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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 12:27 GMT
Miss World win boosts Nigeria
Agbani Darego congratulated by fellow contestants
Ms Darego was chosen from over 90 contestants
Nigerians have welcomed the crowning of Agbani Darego as black Africa's first Miss World, greeting her victory as a happy diversion from recent bad news.

Things have been so bad lately, it takes your mind off of things, it's a great distraction

Lagos doctor Patrick Nwagbogu
Ms Darego, an 18-year-old computer science student, scooped the title from among more than 90 contestants on Friday.

News of her victory dominated Nigeria's newspapers over the weekend, pushing out stories of spiralling ethnic and religious violence.

The competition allowed the audience to vote online this year for the first time, and Nigerians were reported to have flocked to cyber cafes to take part.

Organisers said more than one billion viewers around the world were expected to have watched the show.

Feelgood factor

"Things have been so bad lately, it takes your mind off of things, it's a great distraction," Lagos doctor Patrick Nwagbogu told the Reuters news agency.

Juliet-Jane Horne, Miss Scotland
Juliet-Jane Horne came third
Organisers of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant also said Ms Darego's victory would create opportunities for women in Nigeria.

Even the government is looking to join the party with planned receptions for the new Miss World to be hosted by the First Lady and two governors.

Zerelda Lee - Miss Aruba - took the prize for first runner up and Juliet-Jane Horne of Scotland won second runner up.

Ms Darego said after the contest that when she looked in the mirror she saw a young girl who wanted to be a computer scientist as well as a super model.

"I am so, so happy. It's a wonderful feeling and it's indescribable... I know back home they were all watching out for me and I am happy I made them proud," she said.

No protests

Ms Darego is the fourth African to win the Miss World contest, normally dominated by winners from Europe, the Americas and India.

White South Africans won the pageant in 1958 and 1974, and an Arab Egyptian was victorious in 1954.

The Miss World pageant has since the 1970s been the target of protest by feminists who regarded it as degrading to women.

But it now presents itself as socially conscious and raises money for children's causes. There were said to be no protests this year.

See also:

17 Nov 01 | Africa
Nigerian wins Miss World
18 Dec 00 | South Asia
Miss World defends beauty contests
01 Dec 00 | South Asia
India hails Miss World win
30 Nov 00 | UK
Miss World contest at 50
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