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chosen as Miss West Africa in Germany, is a proud Natural. Preparing for the final African pageant in Nigeria this beauty talks with us about her drive, motivation and preparation.
Hello Mariama, first congratulations on your title and thank you for doing this interview. It's only one day so it's still fresh. How does it feel to be Miss West Africa? Did it sink in yet?
Thank you so much! I feel blessed and I am just filled with excitement right now. A dream has come true and I am so happy to have the opportunity to represent the beauty of West Africa, empower young ladies and help my people in West Africa. But I still can't believe it :-)
Can you tell us about your background? Where did you grow up and go to school? Was it Gambia or Germany?
I was born and raised in Germany where my mother comes from, but my father is Gambian. I love my African roots, it is a gift to be grown up with two different cultures. I have been to Gambia several times and can't wait to go there this year again. I miss my people in Gambia :-)
Why did you decided to do this? Was this your first pageant?
Yes, it was my first pageant. As Miss West Africa Germany I want to aspire women to live a fulfilling life and set aside their self-imposed limits . I also have the chance to do what I always wanted to: start a charity-project in Africa to help my people.
You said it's important to highlight west African culture in the western world. Why do you think it's so important and how do you think you and others can attribute?
West Africa has to deal with many problems: civil wars, famine, poverty. We have to help and focus on these problems because we have the ability to do that. We can also copy something from the African mentality: to be happy, vital and make the best of your life! Africa is such a beautiful continent with a fascinating nature and people.
Your hair looks fabulous. It may sound like a strange question but relaxers are the norm in Black communities all over the world so why haven't you relaxed your hair? Was it a conscious decision?
Thank you :-) Well, when I was younger I thought about relaxing my hair and I used to straighten it with a flatiron. But my friends and people at school didn't like it ...it just wasn't me. My gut instinct took that off and thank God I have never relaxed my hair ! I love my natural hair that I was born with and get lots of compliments , even from people who don't know me lol.
In the US and Holland the majority of Black women wear weaves and perm
their hair. How different is it in the African community in Germany? And in your country back home?
I think it is the same here as it is in the US and Holland. African women need more confidence to wear their hair natural, it is simply beautiful and makes us special. And men love it , too ;-)
Now, I've been told that natural hair, natural African hair, is a lot more accepted in Africa then for instance in America. It's normal to see women with short natural hair in the workplace and braided styles. The corporate world doesn't make a big deal out of it. Can you comment on that?
It is very sad to see and hear that! I hope that this issue will get better and I will do the best I can to represent a natural beauty and hope to inspire women to become or stay natural, too. I was also inspired by amazing women like Yaya DaCosta and Erykah Badu to stay natural.
Also here in the US, the hair and scalp damage from perms and weaves is incredibly high. Is there a lot of hair damage in your African community as well? Can you elaborate?
Yes, there is. I hear a lot girls and women complaining about damaged hair and I also know some people who have become natural after hair loss, itching scalp and other problems.
You are working on your business degree. Do you already know what kind of business you want to start?
I am aspiring to become an consultant soon. I also thought about my own hair care and cosmetic line :-) There are so many things I would love to do (laughing).
Fighting Malaria is also a cause that's important to you. Can you tell us what motivates you?
As Miss West Africa Germany I have the chance to do a charity project in West Africa, which I am so excited about! When I was in Gambia three years ago I have seen many people suffering from malaria and a helpless mother with her baby, who was suffering from malaria. No one wanted to help her and she didn't have the money to buy medicine for the baby. So many people do not even have a mosquito net! It made me angry and sad, that the government could not help these people so it has always been my dream to do that.
In fall I will go to West Africa with a television transmitter to help these people and make the world a little better. I want to help everyone that I possibly can.
My parents inspired my with that- every time when we go to Gambia they buy a lot of medicine, mosquito nets and toys for the children who are living there.
Now you're going to Nigeria for the international title of miss Africa. What are your expectations and how do you prepare for that?
Preparation is very important - it gives a lot of confidence! I try to work out five times a week, drink a lot of water and eat healthy. That is not easy because I love chocolate and West African dishes- especially "Domodah" ( groundnut stew with rice). I am obsessed with food lol.
I want to thank God, because he gives me strength and courage and placed within me a positive sense of self ability. I also want to thank everyone, who supports and motivates me - especially my family and closest friends :-)
Thanks for having that great interview with you, keep up motivating people to become and stay natural, I love your page!
We wish you all the best and we'll be rooting for you. Thank you.