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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Guinea's ban on beauty contests
By James Copnall
BBC News, Conakry

Housseinatou Diallo
It is not fair that Guinea has no contest, says Housseinatou Diallo

Housseinatou Diallo is 19, well spoken, attractive, and has a definite ambition in life.

"I am beautiful, and I would like to be Miss Guinea," she says.

Miss Diallo has already finished second in a competition to choose the most beautiful schoolgirl in the Guinean capital, Conakry.

But her chances of achieving her objective are as slim as her waistline.

It has been nearly two decades since a woman has been able to call herself Miss Guinea - the most beautiful woman in Guinea.

So what happened to the last Miss?

She caught the eye of the country's first man, President Lansana Conte, who swiftly made her his second wife.

"Since then there has not been a Miss Guinea contest," explains N'Foly Fofana, a cultural promoter.


"Rumour has it that the president doesn't want another woman becoming Miss Guinea after his wife.

"It is just rumour, but personally in Guinea I put a lot of faith in rumours."

Mr Fofana isn't the only one to have heard that version of the facts.

"President Conte doesn't want anyone showing old footage of his wife in revealing clothes during the Miss competition," says Ibrahima, a taxi driver, with a knowing smile.

"As long as he is alive, there will not be another Miss Guinea."

Guinea does send representatives to African beauty competitions, but they are not chosen from a full national competition under the title Miss Guinea.

Housseinatou Diallo, for one, finds it difficult to accept the situation.

"It is unjust, it is not fair," she moans.

Ugly competition

"There are competitions everywhere else in Africa, but not here, even though there are many beautiful women in Guinea."

N'Foly Fofana
N'Foly is now thinking of organising a competition for ugly people

N'Foly Fofana would like to organise a Miss Guinea competition - but for the moment he is not sure if he will be able to use that name.

So he has come up with another idea: a competition to find Guinea's ugliest person.

"Each competitor will get 100,000 Guinean francs (about $20) to encourage them to participate, and I think we will have lots of entrants.

"After all, why should ugly people be left out?"

Inside Guinea's power vacuum
12 Jul 06 |  Africa
Country profile: Guinea
26 Jun 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guinea
26 Jun 06 |  Country profiles

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