In the build-up to the finale of this year’s Miss Cameroon competition, contestants from the East region have raised concerns over the selection process.
Annually, beauty pageants are conducted across the ten regions of the country, and the winners taken to compete for the national crown.
Following the contest in the East region, however, some participants have been quick to point out what they have since labeled as irregularities.
Speaking to MMI, an interested party said the lady crowned winner in the East region of the country had initially competed in the Littoral though luck didn’t smile on her.
Marthe Sondi, she stated, was not supposed to compete in the first place, as her presence gave her an unfair advantage over others.
In response to the accusations, Nkolo Vanessa of the Miss Cameroon organizing committee, COMICA, said the rules of the competition had changed in the last six years.
She said, “since the start when Miss Cameroon was created, this is how the elections have been conducted; you had to be an origin of the region where you participate.”
“For the past six editions, however, there have been girls who for instance are in the Centre region but are Nordists but they had difficulties to get to Maroua or Garoua to compete… It was decided that all Cameroonians have to feel like they belong, regardless of if you are Bamoun or from Bamenda or Bafousam,” she explained.
The committee, she said, “… decided for the past six editions that a candidate regardless of their region of origin is free to compete in any region of their choice. They aren’t forced to compete in their region of origin.”
The lady in question, Marthe Sondi, the COMICA coordinator went on, “took part in the elections of the grand Littoral because she lives in Buea and is Anglophone and Francophone… She had a great presentation in Douala but unfortunately didn’t qualify.”
This, to her, is not reason enough to make a contestant not “feel like a Cameroonian.”
She also cited other cases of a similar situation, noting that a good number of Miss Cameroon winners at the regional levels are not originally from the regions where they were voted.
Those complaining, to her, are “detractors”.
“She is not originally from the West region but why is it specifically about her?” Asked Vanessa, adding “… It is a strategy to destabilize the competition. Why aren’t they talking about others who aren’t originally from their regions?”
Keen observers or relentless troubleshooters?
The ongoing controversy is not the first of its kind in the history of the pageant.
To the COMICA official, the latest controversy over the region of origin of contestants stems from what she believes is the insatiable nature of stakeholders and the general public.
“When Audrey was elected Miss Cameroon, they said we did it because of the regional issues, but she deserved the crown. When they are elected from different regions they say we are just doing it for regional equality. That is not the case. We are sick and tired…,”she said.
To her, it remains impossible to heed everyone’s demands. Marthe Sondi, she reiterated, “… wasn’t amongst the top three but is free to try her luck in another region… Everybody deserves a second chance. If she was among the runner-ups and finalists we could not accept.”
The Miss Cameroon pageant was established in 2002. It has as primary aim, to represent all women across the country as well as celebrate beauty, intelligence, and values.
Contestants compete at the regional levels, with finalists selected for the grand finale.
Among other privileges, the winner represents the country at the Miss World contest.