You are Africaʼs ambassador wherever you are

By Gbenga Teejay Okunlola
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Amie Lamin Dibba, advises Africans in diaporas.

It was a dream come true for 22 year-old Amie Lamin Dibba,when she was crowned Miss Gambia USA in front of a live audience in Maryland,USA in May, 2006.The event was held on African Liberation Day. She won the maiden Miss Gambia USA contest. Amie was born of Gambian parents in Texas but has lived in Minnesota since the age of two. She radiates natural beauty,strength,power,self-confi dence,love,hope and exotic,down-toearth girlish appeal which made her crowning indisputable .This gorgeous African Queen talks about her dreams and aspiration in this exclusive interview.

TV: Thank you for joining me today, Amie.Please give us an overview of your background?Describe where you were raised and what your childhood was like? Amie: Thank you for all of the kind words and for also giving me the pleasure of being interviewed.Well, as you know I am 22 years-old. Currently I am a Senior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where I study Marketing and Mass Communications. I was born in Texas, and raised in Minneapolis and I love working with and meeting new people, and I really enjoy singing.

TV: You were crowned Miss Gambia USA in 2006.Tell me, how does it feel to be Miss Gambia USA ?

Amie: Wow, even after the fact, there really is no way to completely explain how it feels to be crowned Miss Gambia USA, especially being the fi rst. I can say though that it was an honor and something that I will always cherish, it was indeed a wonderful and memorable experience. TV: Have you been getting male admirers letters or emails,if yes? how do you handle them?

Amie: (laughs) Well, I can say that there are males that write me from time to time, but at the same time, I am not one to assume what the motive for writing is. They have thus far been very respectful and friendly so...

TV: How did you end up competing in a beauty pageant?

Amie: Well, I had recieved a message on Hi5 from the pageant coordinator Miss Nyillan Fye, she had been sending out mass messages to all of the Gambian females online that she knew of, to join in on this wonderful occasion. It was then that I considered it, I thought about it, and began to prepare myself so that I would be ready…..

TV: What made you unique and different from the other very tough competitors ?

Amie: Well, I think that everyone of us was unique and different in our own way. From feedback that I got after the pageant, I would say that my uniqueness may have stood out from my talent of singing and my smile.

TV: Really,you veʼgot this amazing and disarming smiles.....

Amie: Mmmm..You also veʼgot nice mouth ….and fl attering words.

TV: By identifying yourself with the larger Gambian community do you
not separate yourself from being an American?

Amie: Oh yes! The Gambia is a very beautiful place, and Gambians are really wonderful people. The richness of the culture is something in itself to boast about.

TV: Have you been promoting Gambia internationally since winning the crown?

Amie: Yes, I currently have a single called “Rep Where You Stay” with another Gambian artist Mo Jeng that is being played on BBC radio by Dj Edu. I also do online interviews for my music where I always make sure to call out The Gambia and my current Myspace page also hosts information
about my win and my connection to The Gambia.

TV: Name one person other than your parents who has had the most infl uence on your life.?

Amie: Well if I cannot name my parents I would have to say that God is most infl uential in my life in understanding that everything exists because of God. All that I am and all that I will be is decided by this creator and every part of who I am is infl uenced by my faith, my belief, my trust and my love for God.

TV: What social cause have you identifi ed with as Miss Gambia USA?

Amie: The nurturing of the African Youth. During my last trips to the Gambia, I really understood how important it is to support and nuture the youth of our lands, wherever they may be in the Diaspora. Currently I am working to develop plans towards helping our Gambian youth to become more successful as well as more active in their communities.

TV: What are your interests and what do you enjoy doing the most?

Amie: My interests include music and volunteering. I love to sing, and I love writing lyrics that hold meaning to those that listen.

TV: What do you think of the representation of black womenʼs beauty in the media?

Amie: Well, I think that it really depends on what sector of media that you look at. As well as what you consider beauty to be. I think that we have a long way to go, but I am happy to say that at the very least, the people are 34 Personality Interview
You are Africaʼs ambassador wherever you are, Amie Lamin Dibba, advises Africans in diaporas
starting to see that the responsibility of how women decide to represent themselves is not the fault of the media and in many cases, the media mirrors what society is already doing.

TV: Know what good posture is believed to be. Briefl y give us tips on-How to Improve Your Posture,How to Apply Makeup,How to Become a Natural Beauty,How to Afford Clothes and Accessories by Top Designers,How to Become a Model,How to Choose High Heels and How to Win a Pageant?

Amie: Well as far as posture goes, I can only say that “look confi dent”, when you slouch you not only look less appealing, you look less confi dent, so ladies throw those shoulders back, lift that chin and work it (laughing). Ok, but I have got to be honest with you on this one...make-up application, is my weakness, in fact my mother and my friend had to hold me down on prom night, because I did not want to wear make-up so, I donʼt think I will be of much help there. I really feel like going natural is nice, I only wear make-up on “Special occasions” really. Lip gloss and mascara pretty much sum up my make-up tips for looking and staying natural. I think that it is very important to take care of
yourself, both inside and happy and it shows. Ladies, when you shop, please please please, budget, you dont have to be cheap, but you can fi nd really nice things when you take your time and shop for the best prices, dont be ashamed to look around at the clearance or sales items, hey
they were regular price at sometime right. Now when you are choosing heels or any shoe for that matter, make sure they fi t you right and that you can walk in them, nothing is worse than looking like a million bucks, but not being able to walk across the room without a fear of falling.And for
the last question, How to win a pageant. My best advice to any young lady looking to join a pageant, fi rst understand what the judges are looking for, ask questions, understand the requirements of the pageant, and most importantly, be yourself and let that show.

TV: Tell me more about your singing career?

Amie: Well, I have been singing since I was 6-years old, I actually started in my school choir and went on to join a group and now am a solo artist. I love music.

TV: In what area do you think Gambian music is lacking at the moment? What would you like to see improved on the Gambia music scene ?

Amie: I think that we have the talent in The Gambia, I think that the Gambian musicians need more support from the Gambian people, whether it be by purchasing a cd or tape, attending a show or sponsoring an event. I think that we are all capable of helping to move Gambian musicians forward in the music industry.

TV: I understand your Dad is Mandinka and your Mum Wollof,Right?

Amie: Yes that is right.

TV: Am sure you must have read or heard about Kunta Kinte- in ROOTS? According to the book Roots, Kunta Kinte was born in 1750, in Gambia,he was from the Mandinka tribes, and was one of 98 slaves brought to Annapolis, Maryland aboard the ship Lord Ligonier in 1767, and despite many years in bondage, he never lost his connection to his African heritage. Are you indeed proud to have come from the Madinka?

Amie: I am proud to be Mandinka, as I am proud to be a Gambian. It is a part of me.

TV: Tell us, how much you have been moved by the shocking reality of slavery? Donʼt you think it was a great injustice against the black race and humanity?

Amie: You know, it really was, A great injustice to the black race, both those in and out of Africa. I am proud though to know that there were many people that opposed that reality both black and white and that there were others that lost their lives for those beliefs and more over that there is an uncountable number of people within the black race that did not fall into the outcome that slavery had proposed.

TV: Slavery, created a racist ideology and weakened black culture, what are those things that you have been doing to preserve your cultural heritage in the United States of America?

Amie: Well, I attend a university that is predominantely white, here I represent the Black race in an important way. I have come across many students who have never met a black person before in their lives. I take this and create ways to promote black culture both African and African American. I am involved with the Black Student Union which sponsors various diversity oriented events such as Black History Month Show and I organized the fi rst ever African Night on UWRF campus this past Fall,

TV: As a result of slavery and the subsequent injustice of Jim Crow, racism still causes much pain in America today including violence, destruction of families, and segregation, among many other injustices. Additionally, racism today, as a legacy of slavery, harms many white Americans who are not descendants of slaves owners? Racism continues to play a key role in Americaʼs political, cultural, social, and economic life despite years of civil rights legislation and Supreme Court decisions. Whatʼs your take on that?

Amie: Racism does affect many aspects of todayʼs society in America; but more so, ignorance. People that are open-minded and educated rather than simply being taught have that understanding. I do not believe that racism or prejudice will ever disappear, but I do believe that we do have the ability to control its power within the institutions of our society.

TV: Now, what advice can you give to the young women of the Gambia that are looking up to you ?

Amie: My advice to the young women of the Gambia is to hold each other like sisters, set goals for themselves and love themselves. Always remember to smile! Work hard and wait for nothing to be handed to them, because they are able and strong

TV: How do you feel about Fatou Touray the current Miss Gambia

Amie: Oh she is great! She is such an intelligent young woman with a bright future ahead of her. I wish her all the best and know that she will make a wonderful Miss Gambia USA.

TV: What are your future plans? Do you intend to contest for Miss Universe Pageant?

Amie: My plans right now are to fi nish my current program at the university, and continue on to get my Masters, I am also putting my focus on music. I do not intend to contest Miss Universe.

TV: Lastly,If you could have lunch with President Yahya Jammeh tomorrow what would you tell him?

Amie: Well, going back to my interest in the Gambian youth, I would defi -nitely create a proposal for a youth development center for The Gambia, sit down with President Jammeh with that proposal and work with him on bringing that proposal to life.

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