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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 18:18 GMT
Miss World: A celebration for Nigeria?
Agbani Darego, an 18-year-old computer science student, beat 90 other contestants, becoming the first black African to win the title of Miss World.

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

Organisers said more than one billion viewers around the world watched the show.

The competition also 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.

But in these days of female emancipation is Miss Darego's victory really something to celebrate?

This debate has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

A testament to how far the African woman can go when given a level playing field

Chi Iro, USA
First of all, I would like to congratulate this young woman - 18 year-old Agbani Darego for her courage and intelligence. Her win is something worth celebrating. I personally believe that the human body is a great work of art that should never be hidden. Of course the purpose of art has never been only to please - rather it has been to get a reaction from the observer - positive or negative.

I do not think that beauty pageants demean the women or men folk - rather it is a celebration of the beauty, the essence and physicality of life. That a black African for the first time won this crown is a testament to how far the African woman can go when given a level playing field. I say - "More power to our women".
Chi Iro, USA

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. It does not matter in whatever honest and legal endeavour we won, it is worth celebrating. For those who think it is not useful to the well-being of the nation, they should learn to celebrate all achievements, big and small, whether we are directly affected or not. For those wondering why we should celebrate thinking that it has no relevance to Nigeria's development, they should think of the political awareness it brought to us internationally. With that will come other goodies like foreign investors in cosmetic or beauty product industries. Besides, scientists and peaceful co-existence cannot be created overnight but a beauty queen can be crowned in a short space of time.

The pageant is no less important than us winning a world cup in soccer and jubilation for days. Moreover, the girl is not a school drop out. She promised to focus on helping children often sold into servitude because of poverty. What a great nation we would have! Let us not be sceptics. Impatience at wanting the magic revolution overnight keeps throwing us into despair and confusion. We have won this. Let us rejoice and work on other areas where we can, with hard work, also lead in the world.
Comfort Adesuwa Ero, Canada

I think I see this as a mixed blessing, on one hand it's good that we have an African winning this crown for the first time which we have the cause to celebrate, but we still have more pressing issues facing us in Africa which we seem not to care about. Once more I congratulate the young lady, but we Nigerians/Africans need to open up our eyes to choose which direction we want to go, the world will not wait for us.
Larry Onalaja, United - States

About time too. For too long we have only seen Europeans being crowned as Miss World or Miss Universe. Many of the so called super models of today are just plain Janes who are hyped up by the Western Press. We have extremely beautiful women in Nigeria, in fact all over the continent. Every race has beautiful women, but, unfortunately the Western press and media will have us believe that you have to be of European origin before you can be classed as beautiful.
Bola Ogunkoya, UK

This award should be a source of joy to the people of that great nation

Emmanuel G. K. George, Liberia
Almost every day, the news coming out about Africa is one that leaves many of the sons and daughters of Mother Africa in despair. When we hear that one of our children has made it in an internationally acclaimed event there is cause for each one of us to rejoice. In the recent past, there has been a lot of violence in Nigeria but this award should be a source of joy to the people of that great nation. Let us rejoice, Africa.
Emmanuel G. K. George, Liberia

I congratulate Miss Darego for her endurance and hard work. She is another bright star of Nigerian origin. I pray she makes the best of the opportunities that accompany the position.
Toki Taiwo, USA

It is amazing that an African woman can rise to the exalted throne of the Miss World. The victory is not only for Africans but for all black women over the world. And if it takes away the pain and nightmares they are going through, who are we to tell them not to celebrate? It's about time our women rose to the occasion and took their rightful place in the world of beauty.
Olumide, USA

Winning this event is a non-issue

Edosa, USA
Congratulations Miss Nigeria. Unfortunately, this is a historic event that does not really count for very much. Given the problems that have plagued the country during the last few weeks or so, winning this event is a non-issue that does not really warrant a national celebration.
Edosa, USA

I am quite surprised and very much disgusted at some people's reaction towards Nigeria's victory in the beauty contest. I can't believe that in the year 2001 there are still some people with such a narrow minded, naive and stupid way of thinking. What has a girl winning a competition got to do with the political situation in Nigeria? I wish people would think deeply before they make comments somtimes. All I see is a beautiful young lady trying to make a difference.
Tonia Obafemi, USA

I think we Africans are so desperate for recognition in whatever form it comes. How does this young girl's triumph help the ordinary African? People are dying on the continent right now. We need Africans to discover affordable Aids drugs, surely that would be worth celebrating.
Joseph A. Nyirenda, Zambia

I was in Nigeria when she won

Lolade, England
Miss Darego's win is another cause for optimism in Africa. Let's celebrate all our achievements however insignificant they may seem. I was in Nigeria when she won and the general mood amongst the people was one of optimism and a feeling that the world, for Africans, is our oyster.
Lolade, England

When I think of the myriads of problem facing our homeland and the rest of Africa I wonder how winning Miss World will bring succour to the continent. Will it stop civil and religious wars? Will it lead to debt reduction or outright debt cancellation? We should be competing in the field of scientific, economic and political advancement instead.
Ahmed Abu, Japan/ Nigeria

I do not find anything good about stripping women semi-naked in order to determine who is the fairest of them all in the name of a beauty pageant. This is rather demeaning, degrading and distasteful. Women deserve much better. Some of us hold them in high esteem because they made us what we are - born, bred and raised by a woman.
Tebby Magee, Botswana

Let us celebrate the fact that an African won the crown. It is about time.
Ida Akpan, USA

She was absolutely stunning. Congratulations to her. Nigeria should celebrate and also the rest of black women. I feel proud when I see my fellow African holding a touch of victory up high. She is paving the way for other African beauties to feel reassured that they can also conquer the world with their beauty and intelligence. Bravo gal!!
Sharon O, Botswana, currently in Australia

It shows the latent potential of the African woman

Ernest Cole, The Gambia/Sierra Leone
In a continent characterised by negative social and political forces, the success of Miss Nigeria is a pointer to the victory of the African woman who has long been held down by male chauvinism and restrictive traditional values in most African societies. It shows the latent potential of the African woman which given the right atmosphere will blossom and flourish. Miss Darego has shown that there are values, cultural and spiritual, inherent in the African that are worthy of being celebrated.
Ernest Cole, The Gambia/Sierra Leone

It is so nice to hear that my countrymate is Miss World. Living in the western world where beauty is associated with the Caucasian outlook, I think this is a boost to Africans all over the world. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Steve Biko advised South Africans that black is beautiful. Indeed it is. Let us share this wonderful moment with all the peace loving people of the world, that Miss World has emerged from the cradle of mankind.
Umuofia Kwenu, Canada

I would like to celebrate Africa's win. At least it diverts us from all the civil wars rocking our continent. Africa can at least show the world that all is not lost. Congratulations to Agbani Darego.
Jennifer Lukeera, Uganda

For us Nigerians, Ms Darego has brought our Christmas and New Year celebrations a little closer.
Gideon Mbanugo, Nigeria

I would love to see Nigeria produce more Nobel prize winners

Dr. Ejike Eze, Nigeria
Without meaning to trivialise the achievement of this beautiful woman, I think that Nigeria's celebration of her win demonstrates the depth to which the country has sunk. I would love to see Nigeria produce more Nobel prize winners, world class scientists and a stable democratic society in which solders are not shooting at unarmed civilians and Muslims are not killing their brothers of the Christian faith while the government looks on. That would be something to cheer about.
Dr. Ejike Eze, Nigeria

Her winning has no effect whatsoever on our image. The problems facing us as Nigerians are still with us. The benefit goes to her and her immediate family. Her talking about the less privileged is a non-issue.
Samuel Olonikadi, Nigeria

The only reason Nigeria can celebrate is that they are getting the crown for the first time. Apart from that I do not see anything to celebrate about. The girls did not work for their looks, so why celebrate? Also, what will Nigeria gain by the girl's winning? Only her family and organizers will benefit - what happens to the other people? The only thing Nigeria and indeed Africa should celebrate about is when we (1) work hard and stop begging from other nations; (2) Sort out our spiritual problems Islam Vs Christianity; (3) Stop civil war. I do not believe in beauty pageants where girls have to strut about showing their bodies. I find it demeaning.
Kabwe Zulu, Zambia

It's about time we got a bonus point

Modupe Adegbaju, Nigeria
I'm Nigerian and I think it is absolutely amazing. It's about time we got a bonus point. We do have a lot of strong points, we just need a chance to show them, without being put down by some of our down points
Modupe Adegbaju, Nigeria

If her win in the beauty contest leads to forgetting the ethnic and religious violence that has been rocking Nigeria, at least for a couple of days, I would say it is good to celebrate. On the other hand, beauty is a subjective matter and as the old adage says, it depends on the eye of the beholder. Every one has its own beauty whether it is from the inside or the outside or a combination thereof.
Zodia, Sweden

Why not? I mean the woman has made history for us Africans, so we should celebrate, I watched the contest and I was really proud, I mean the woman is intelligent and this is what we expect from our beauty queens
Khabo, Swaziland

Listen now both sides of the debate
See also:

19 Nov 01 | Africa
Miss World win boosts Nigeria

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