According to reports reaching us, Miss West Africa â€“International, Maria Sawaneh is visiting The Gambia in May, 2013 to meet children at the SOS Childrenâ€™s Village and also to embark on fundraising activities.
Maria was crowned as Miss West Africa â€“ International on the 23rd March, 2013 at a packed ceremony held at Cape Verdeâ€™s National Auditorium. She defeated Zalia Maiga, the 1st Runner-up from Mali and Hawa Kamara, the 2nd Runner-up from Sierra Leone.
When Maria was one-year old, she left The Gambia with her parents to settle in Frankfurt, Germany. In an interview with a German online magazine, she said: â€œI live in Germany, but Iâ€™m Gambian. Itâ€™s an honor to represent my country!â€
The Gambian beauty queen is currently studying law. In addition to studying, she also works as a model. Maria speaks German, English, French and Wollof. Her dream is to start a law firm in Frankfurt, working mainly with divorce cases.
According to a Ghanaian newspaper, the 24-year-old is the first Gambian and the first West African based abroad to win the Miss West Africa â€“ International beauty pageant.
In a chat with Whatâ€™s On-Gambia, Maria tells us more about herself, future plans among other things:
Whatâ€™s On-Gambia: Please tell us about your Gambian origin.
Maria: My mother is Serahuleh and my dad is Mandinga and Fulani, so I am mixed tribe Gambian.
How did the idea of contesting for the Miss West Africa â€“ International crown come about?
I am very proud of my native country and always ready to represent it to my best. Plus, my mum told me that it would be a good thing to take part in the Miss West Africa-International pageant and so I went for her advice.
What were the qualities that helped you win?
I really donâ€™t know, because all the girls were very beautiful, intelligent and lovely. I guess you would have to ask the judges.
What are the benefits attached to winning the crown?
I get to do what I always wanted to do â€“engage with social projects benefitting the people of The Gambia and the whole of West Africa.
I felt honoured to be given the opportunity to help children and disable people. So in a nutshell, the pageant has opened and continues to open new doors for me.
During the pageant you had no dress designed by a Gambia, any reason for that?
The pageant represents the whole of West Africa. I wanted to make a statement and that was â€“ as a Gambian I can proudly wear a dress designed by a Ghanian. So itâ€™s about West African unity!
Our readers would like to know your fashion style and how you managed to always keep your skin fabulous?
(laughs).. I only use natural products. We, West Africans, have the best skin ingredients. Shea Butter gives the skin the entire essential it needs.
What plans do you have for The Gambia as a Gambian ambassador in the diaspora?
I have a lot of plans but I wouldnâ€™t reveal all of them now. One thing I can tell you is that I am already engaged with projects involving young people with no secured homes.