For the second year in a row, the Miss Earth pageant will be staged virtually via Zoom, a move considered amusingly bold and novel last year in the amidst all the event cancellations brought about by the pandemic. The show had to go on, and, more importantly, a winner was crowned. And what a winner – the United States finally earned its first crown thanks to the lovely Lindsey Coffey, who is now considered among the most beautiful winners in history, despite technically not yet setting foot on an actual Miss Earth stage yet. We do hope she swings by here soon, once it’s generally safer.
This year, the decision to go virtual once again was met with general consternation, mostly from local fans. It does seem ironic, considering daily infection rates are generally lower than ever and other pageants are already being physically staged elsewhere around the world. But, understand that plans were finalized at a time when cases were still clocking in by the 10,000s. Back then, it wasn’t generally wise to bring people into our borders.
89 candidates were listed as confirmed participants this year, which is disputable, because not all of them were present in all judging categories and some didn’t show up altogether, like COTE D’IVOIRE’s Lune Aminata Coulibaly, ETHIOPIA’s Tamnica Kedir Zeynu, and LIBERIA’s Odella Flomo. For purposes of streamlining, only those who were present in at least two challenges will be reviewed.
We begin with the candidates from Africa:
ANGOLA – Jurelma de Jesus Paz. It’s nice to see this country back in action since its 2017 debut, but this girl’s inconsistent challenge participation might hinder her from replicating Ermelinda de Matos’ breakthrough placement.
BOTSWANA – Mosa Dolly Balesamang. This country has sent polished and eloquent contenders here before but was never really in serious contention to go far. This assistant scientific officer is, more or less, in the same league, though she might earn an African slot if the powers-that-be follow last year’s continental format.
CAMEROON – Raïssa Mandeng. This entrepreneur has the confidence and eloquence and might also benefit from last year’s format.
GAMBIA – Bintou Jawara. This tiny West African country was more visible in the pageant scene in the 80s, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see it debut here. Her presentations may not do her much justice, but this real estate secretary does exude a striking presence. A debut placement wouldn’t be objectionable.
GHANA – Nylla Oforiwaa Amparbeng. This entrepreneur is another looker who acquitted herself well in the Intelligence and Environmental Awareness round but having no Eco Video as of this writing might have its repercussions.
KENYA – Stacey Chumba. We’ve come to expect strong interviews from Kenyan candidates, and she is no exception. In her case, however, that loquaciousness may have backfired a bit. In her Intelligence challenge, she candidly cracked jokes with a panelist well beyond her time limit. She was engaging for sure, but the moderators had to call her out.
MAURITIUS – Krishma Ramdawa. Looks-wise, she’s in same league as the two Mauritians who previously pulled surprise placements for her country. But with other African beauties gaining traction this year, pulling a similar feat is less than certain.
NIGER – Miriam Abdou Saleye. She has a pretty face and charming smile, replete with an interesting story of having 20 siblings. Too bad her only appearance was in the Intelligence and Environmental Awareness round, as this would have been a more promising debut for her French-speaking desert country. Still, being the first Nigerien to compete in a major pageant is already a major milestone.
NIGERIA – Christine Telfer Edet Ugah. This country trails only behind South Africa as the African country with most Miss Earth placements. This TV host might as well continue the ongoing streak, after pulling out all stops in all judging categories.
REUNION ISLAND – Mathilde Grondin. This pageant may have a history of ignoring this French overseas department, but this law student could be their best shot yet. Come to think of it, both this year’s French island girls seem stronger than their metropolitan counterpart.
RWANDA – Josine Ngirinshuti. This tourism management student follows the tradition of chic, stylish, and striking Rwandan candidates in this pageant, though a breakthrough placement is not yet that assured.
SOUTH AFRICA – Nompumelelo Maduma. More often than not, whenever the powers-that-be would pick an African candidate, they tend to default to this country. That shouldn’t be the case this time, as this social media specialist quite possibly performed the strongest in the Intelligence and Environmental Awareness round. With luck, she might even secure her country’s first element.
UGANDA – Ahlam Ismail. She does look polished when it counts and displays conviction when talking about her advocacies, but she was likely outdone in other judging categories.
ZAMBIA – Chilekwa Kalunga. Her being a police officer made for an interesting discussion point in the Intelligence and Environmental Awareness challenge. Unfortunately, she wasn’t seen in the other judging rounds.
ZIMBABWE – Jemima Mandemwa. She’s an underrated braided beauty who deserves more notice than she’s getting. Should the powers-that-be grant more slots for her continent, she should definitely be given a shot.
STANDOUTS: BOTSWANA, CAMEROON, NIGERIA, SOUTH AFRICA, ZIMBABWE
COMING NEXT: EUROPE