Diasporian News of Thursday, 21 August 2014
A couple of months ago, a group of young women who participated in Miss Ghana USA over the past couple of years came out with accounts of what happened to them behind closed doors as finalists in the Miss Ghana USA Pageant. The young women were disclaimed as angry bitter women who failed to win the pageant, and were therefore attempting to ruin the pageant. When asked, one of these women said, “My intent was no such thing. I just don’t want any other young innocent girls to go through what we went through with this pageant”. .
The pageant allegedly empowers young women of the Diaspora to make a difference at home by pursuing humanitarian endeavors. Advertised to be a scholarly and altruistic pageant, young women are undoubtedly drawn to not only the glitz and glamour of this pageant, but the promises the pageant claims; these promises, in regards to the pageant’s mission of hoping to be recognized as a “world class organization”, include respect, fairness, and professionalism by the organizers of the pageant. Such values are held by every legitimate world class organization, including The Miss Universe Pageant, The Miss World Pageant, The Miss America Pageant, and even The Miss Ghana Pageant itself. However, not the Miss Ghana USA pageant. A series of unprofessional, unfair, and unjust scenarios that occur every single year of the pageant attest to the fact that the Miss Ghana USA Pageant is by no means, a legitimate pageant that should be taken as seriously as “world class organizations” such as the formerly stated pageants are taken.
GhanaNewsMedia interviewed several contestants and affiliates who unveiled the truth behind The Miss Ghana USA Pageant, including Miss Ghana USA, the former Beauty Queen, herself. We have purposely chosen to leave her name out of this article for security purposes. When we asked former Miss Ghana USA how she became involved in the pageant, she said:
“I was contacted by a former executive member of the Miss Ghana USA Pageant to participate. After viewing their website, reading their vision and mission, I became intrigued by the opportunity. I was initially hesitant and nervous as I had never embarked on such a journey, but I was empowered to walk out on faith and join a team of women who had similar aspirations of displaying and uplifting their cultural roots. The Miss Ghana USA Organization claimed to promote to support the contestants as [we] “worked to achieve [our] individual goals in the context of [our] cultural roots.” I had faith that God would see me through the journey and faith in the organization’s mission. While God has been with me every step of the way, the organization unfortunately failed to meet the standards and expectations they set for themselves” —Former Miss Ghana USA
As a news reporter, I am wondering, why were the organizers of Miss Ghana USA unable to meet these high standards that they set for themselves? After all, These women participated in this competition on the false pretense that the pageant would carry out the rules and vision that they publicly displayed on their website: To be recognized as a world class organization that consistently brings amazing women to the forefront and supports them as they work to achieve their individual goals in the context of their cultural roots.
When pageant director, co-founder, and Vice President of Miss Ghana USA, Ellen Osei was asked about the pageant’s distribution of prizes and their alleged trip to Ghana as a prize from the organization to the winner, these were her exact words:
“The Prizes are dependent on the sponsors, and most sponsors are not fully confirmed until about 2 weeks before the show. Therefore the complete package is usually unknown but you are of course guarantee the title, crown and sash…” —Pause. For a group hoping to be a “world-class organization”, what is it about these prizes that any individual cannot get for herself? Okay. Maybe it is the trip to Ghana and the winner’s opportunity to display her platform right? …It has to be. When we asked, a former affiliate of Miss Ghana USA said, “They [the contestants] were not supported. I ask that the organization step up with integrity and honorably support the women they call to represent and work for them… Continuing to hear complaints from future contestants has been heartbreaking…”When MGUSA Pageant director, Ellen Osei was asked in regards to the promised trip to Ghana, she said:” … [the winner] takes a trip to Ghana to fulfill her platform however the extent to how much of the trip is covered through sponsorship is also not known until closer to the date”. In other words, if the sponsors were to only give $1 to the Miss Ghana USA Organization, only $1 would be given towards this alleged trip to Ghana. It is clear that sponsors play a very important role towards the pageant.
Who else better to inquire from than an actual sponsor of Miss Ghana USA? When asked about their level of sponsorship, the sponsor, of whom we have chosen to remain disclosed, said, (paraphrasing) “we [the sponsors] are only media sponsors; that means that we do not support those people [The Miss Ghana USA Pageant] financially.” So in other words, their names are just displayed on the website as sponsors, and that is as far as it goes; they do not really make any significant financial contributions to the pageant. As a news reporter, my question is…if the MGUSA Organization is not receiving any funds from their “sponsors”, where are they getting their money from? After all, it is a business/organization; they would not still be having this pageant every year if they were not receiving money from somewhere. Perhaps modeling agencies? When inquired, Administrator(s) of MGUSA suggested that funds could not be secured because the former Queen’s “beauty (or lack thereof)” did not get them their sponsorship from modeling agencies. This pageant claims to be a scholarly pageant that empowers young women, yet here they are, indicating that a young woman was not “pretty or beautiful enough”…that is the opposite of empowering. Since they do not receive much money from sponsors and modeling agencies, I ask again, where is this “world-class organization” getting their money from? We will leave that for you to decide. Based on information from a former 2014 contestant, “the pageant charges $500 for each girl to come and stay at a pageant house of which no food or transportation to and from pageant week events is provided. I really do not see how my laying on perhaps, the floor of someone’s house is worth $500…and that is before my gowns and other expenses”. It is clear that this pageant has financial issues; perhaps this is the reason why the organizers become frustrated when questioned about the prizes and the pageant in general. A former contestant noted, “inquiries regarding prizes and rewards were met with inconsistent answers and more often no response at all. Second, there was a high level of disorganization by the Miss Ghana USA Organization from pageant week events, to preparation and the show itself. The show was met with low attendance and no special guests advertised on the fliers. Third, the aftermath of the Pageant proved to be just as substandard, if not worse.”
When a former Miss Ghana USA was asked about her year reigning as queen, she said, “Despite the [speculations and] foreshadowing of an unpromising year to come, I pressed on and remained focused, with Ghana, my city, and my platform on my mind. And, I won! I thought my win was the beginning of an awesome year to come, but I was sadly mistaken. The aftermath of being crowned Miss Ghana USA resulted in a very stressful, disappointing, financially, emotionally and physically draining year with very little to no gain. Throughout the year, I reached out about what my role would entail and what we would be doing during the year, but nothing was shared with me. I was fortunately able to work on my platform with the support of my city, but with no support from the Miss Ghana USA Organization. There was no trip to Ghana and there is still a monetary unpaid debt, which was promised to me.
Despite not consistently responding to my inquiries regarding my role and reward, I was asked to assist the organization with the next Pageant. I obliged. I supported the next group of women, who took a chance on this opportunity with hopes that their fate would be different. Ghana, my city, and future contestants were at the forefront of my efforts and energy spent for the Miss Ghana USA Organization. But, not being supported, uplifted, nor compensated was a slap in the face. In the name of Ghana and what the Miss Ghana USA Organization claims(ed) to stand for, I speak on behalf of any contestant affiliated with this organization who has experienced an injustice.I pray that this will be the last narrative of corrupt African/ Ghanaian Pageants”
This series, “Untold Stories Behind Miss Ghana USA”, goes beyond the pageant itself. For Africa, and particularly Ghana to prosper, we must address the problem of corruption within our society. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would have been devastated to see such a promising nation, such a promising generation, fall victim to corruption. The real question is, will such noble organizations such as the “sponsors” continue affiliation with such a scandalous pageant? Sponsors include Arik Air, Face2Face Africa, RockMeAfrica Magazine, SheaCares, and etc. Will such respected organizations continue sponsoring Miss Ghana USA even after former contestants, winners, and organizers have openly stated the truths behind this pageant? We will leave that for them to decide. This scandal by Miss Ghana USA will undoubtedly reflect upon their ethics and values as Sponsors, and affect the public’s opinion about their businesses. Given the negative light the Miss Ghana USA Pageant has radiated with this scandal, it would be a pity to see such widely accepted noble, ethical, and moral sponsors such as these, continue to support Miss Ghana USA after this scandal his been publicly displayed on all media platforms. A decision to continue or discontinue sponsoring Miss Ghana USA will be to their discretion, and to the public’s perception. With that said, people in Ghana, America, and around the world will be waiting to see which sponsors will continue, despite the pageant’s history of false advertisement, copyright infringement, bullying, barbaric behavior from organizers, and the multiple potential lawsuits facing Miss Ghana USA.