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Black is indeed beautiful

By - | September 12th 2012
Atong Demach was crowned Miss Africa 2012. [Photo:Courtesy]

South Sudan participated in the Miss World competition for the first time and emerged tops in Africa. The young nation’s representative, 24 year-old Atong Demach, was crowned Miss Africa 2012. She spoke to MATILDA NZIOKI

How did you get to participate in Miss World 2012?

Nilestyle Model and Design Company announced the contest in October last year and I took part and won. Being the first time our young nation was participating, competition was stiff as a lot of girls showed interest.

Were you anxious seeing that you were the pioneer from your country and had no herald to give you an idea of how it goes?

It was not anxiety as much as it was exciting. It was a big beauty contest and I was enthusiastic about making sure South Sudan was represented.

The first two weeks were mostly to get to know each other; everyone’s cultural background and about their countries, as we were all staying at the same place. As much as I knew we were all there for one goal, I was just enjoying my time. China is beautiful.

What was your best moment during Miss World 2012?

Everyday was exciting. There was something different each day. In the top model pre-finals challenge event, we modelled clothes from respectable clothing lines like Grand Black from UK. Getting the opportunity to wear 14 high-rated collections was a major achievement.

Speaking of which, you won that particular challenge. Did you see it coming?

I would not say that because there were a lot of ‘top model-looking’ girls and I did not envy the judges, as their work must have been tough. That said, I did my best and I was extremely happy with the results.

What do you think worked for you in that contest?

The simple thought that I was representing my country gave me an unexplainable drive and I was just a natural. I have this desire to show the world that Sudan is much more than a history of war, but has intelligent youth who are ready to bring change.

How about the most challenging part of Miss World 2012?

Being away from my family in a place where I didn’t know anyone was difficult, but by the second day, I knew almost everyone in the competition. I liked the girls and made good friends. My favourites were Miss Puerto Rico, Nigeria, Indonesia and my roommate Miss Zimbabwe. Communication was at times a challenge as some did not speak English, but we somehow worked it out.

Was it your first time in a beauty contest?

No. I participated in a modelling competition in my country known as Miss Malaika in 2009, and became the winner.

Has modelling always been your dream?

Not a model, but I always dreamt of becoming a beauty queen. The dream was born as I watched Miss India crowned as Miss World in 2004. I didn’t even know there was more meaning to the crown, and now that I do, I’m more interested. That is, giving back to humanity. I have always wanted to help.

How did you get into it?

I grew up in Sudan and it was hard to pursue modelling, as there were no modelling agencies or even fashion shows. We are, however, coming of age and I plan to help build it into a thriving industry.

Now that you are the reigning Miss Africa, what can the continent expect from you?

I want to live the ‘beauty with a purpose’ part of the crown. I have my own campaign known as ‘Black Is Beautiful’. I’ll move from one African country to another preaching that. Many girls are into bleaching, oblivious of its dangers. I think that’s denying who you are, and I just want them to like who they are. I will also work with the Miss World representatives of each African country to raise funds and awareness for their causes.

What does the future hold for you now?

Two years ago, if you asked me where I would be in two years time, I wouldn’t have imagined this. I take a day at a time, make a difference each day, believe in myself in everything I do and I guess everything will be ok. I consider myself a hardworking young woman, who looks at everyday as a chance to learn something new.

My schedule for now mostly involves travelling with the other four continental winners, fulfilling various duties that come with the crown.

We have seen African models such as Alek Wek and Ajuma Nasenyana make it big in prominent fashion cities.

Do you think you will end up strutting catwalks abroad?

I hope so. Alek Wek has always inspired me. It’s because of her that I grew up knowing that as a dark-skinned girl, I’m beautiful, and that I could follow my dream to be a beauty queen without fear.

Your westernised accent is quite noticeable. Did you ever spend sometime abroad?

No. I was born in what is now South Sudan, but grew up in Khartoum, Sudan. I went to primary school in South Sudan, then in Khartoum.  I was in Khartoum for both high school and university.

My studies have stalled indefinitely as I was in Juba University, a South Sudanese university that was based in Khartoum, Sudan. With the separation of the two nations, the university had to move to Juba, South Sudan, and is still setting up. Some faculties have already resumed studies, though. I’m studying languages in the department of translation, majoring in English and Arabic.

Tell us about your family

I’m the last born in a family of nine. I have five sisters and three brothers. My family lives in Bor town in Jonglei State, one of the ten states of South Sudan. I have some siblings in the US and Australia. During the war, everyone scattered, but I like being in South Sudan. A lot of development is going on right now and I see a bright future. I can see my country stable in the next five years.


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