As patrons filled the seats at the National Cultural Center on August 17, 2011, excitement filled the air as they prepared to watch what has been proposed as the best pageant in local history. At around 8:30, the National Anthem (first and last stanzas) was sung by a local boy group, officiating the beginning of the Miss Jamzone International Pageant – Part 1. The reigning queen, Ms. Lesa – Gayle Tom, was brought in by oiled, buff young men to the beats of African drums, as she introduced herself and spoke about her past year on a voice – over recording. She strutted from end to end of the stage, while letting the gathered subliminally know that the next winner has enormous shoes to fill.
It was after this that the delegates danced their way to center stage to the melodies of African music as they introduced themselves. Naturally, Miss Brazil and Miss Venezuela both had translators, since they speak Portugese and Spanish respectively. However, their translator did not do them justice as she failed time and time again to relate the statements and questions by our MC’s throughout the show. We at Guyanalive.com hope she wasn’t paid, since that would have been a waste of money. The 11 delegates were; Ms. Latisha Greene of Antigua and Barbuda, Ms. Kenlly Aranguren of Venezuela, Ms. Rhea Cummings of Barbados, Ms. Deandra Doyley of Jamaica, Ms. Davia Chambers of Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Patrish Lionel of St. Lucia, Ms. Fatisha Imo of St. Kitts/Nevis, Ms. Ellen Lima of Brazil, Ms. Marcia Baptiste of Dominica, Ms. Stacey Norine Ceder of Suriname and Ms. Jovan Wilson of Guyana. From the inception, the crowd’s favorites were all the delegates except Ms. Brazil and Ms. Barbados. We then met the MC’s for the evening, the beautiful and intelligent Ms. Tamika Henry, a former Miss Guyana Universe, and Mr. Godfrey Munroe, a National Table Tennis Star and a horrible orator. He stuttered, slurred, fumbled, rarely looked up at the audience or the cameras and had poor choices of words. He was tolerated for the first half of the show but the audience became annoyed by the second half. After we got to know the evening’s MC’s we then saw a vibrant African dance by the Classique Dance Company, who is set to embark to the United States of America very soon to put on a grand show. At this interval Ms. Henry decided to inform us that the theme for the show was “African” in nature, since this is The Year for People of African Descent, but there will be other cultural pieces. We then had an opportunity to meet the judges of the competition: Mr. Kemraj Persaud, Mr. Alan Donovan, Dr. Ingrid Cox – Pierre, Mr. Gordon Mosely, Mrs. Patricia Woolford and Mr. Ramesh Geer, who we do not envy since their task before them is one of great proportions.
It then came time for the Swimsuit Segment of the pageant and their jealous eyes and wagging tongues. The suits, designed by local fashionista Pat Coates, fit the ladies superbly and they wore them with sheer grace and pride. That being said the masses’ favorites were Ms. Brazil, Ms. Dominica, Ms. Guyana, Ms. Suriname and Ms. Trinidad and Tobago. There were cheers and groans as each contestant came on stage and showed their curves (of their smiles and their bodies) but those mentioned ladies received a more favorable response. Following that epic segment, we were all thrilled by an amazing Indian dance by a local group called the Dancing Delights. They swayed and shook to the sounds of cultural Indian song and the crowd roared with appreciation. Let us just say that we think the Miss Jamzone International Pageant had the best lighting, sound and special effects of any pageant we have seen in some time (and we have seen quite a few), despite the audio glitches which at times became frustrating. Many blame the staff and equipment of the National Cultural Center, but we refuse to speculate.