It was just a few weeks ago that the 69th Miss World Pageant rounded off at the ExCel, London. When former queen, Mexico’s Vanessa Ponce crowned her successor, Toni-Ann Singh from Jamaica, very few people noticed that records had come tumbling down. Women of colour had arrived in a grand style and and broken into heights unseen. In just a few months, Toni-Ann had become the 5th Black woman to scoop up a major beauty title within the same calendar year!
Although her victory and the ecstatic celebration of her friend and co-contestant from Nigeria, Onyekachi Douglas, went viral, the victory had marked the very first time that Black women comprehensively bestrode the beauty pageant world. Recall that South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was still fresh in her triumph as the 2019 Miss Universe. Earlier in the United States, Nia Franklin emerged the 2019 Miss America, Cheslie Kryst clinched the crown of Miss USA while the title of Miss Teen USA 2019 was won by Kaliegh Garri. According to records, the first woman of colour to win Miss World was Jennifer Hosten of Grenada in 1970. Seven years later, Janelle Commissioning of Trinidad took home the Miss Universe crown while Vanessa Williams was the first black to emerge as Miss America in 1983.
For Nigeria, celebrations knew no bounds when Agbani Darego stunned other contestants to become the 2001 Miss World. Before her however, Nigeria had signaled a strong intent into pageants when Oluch Onweagba won the inaugural edition of the MNET-Face of Africa competition.