Sunday, 15 September 2013

The only ducks here are the PM and STA

Anyone who knows me can tell you that beauty pageants are not something that I am interested in.  If I do watch a pageant it is to admire the pretty dresses or to mock the contestants as they attempt to answer their interview questions.  I am going to admit that there were some answers to which I did mock during this year’s Miss Samoa pageant, however I was mostly disturbed and ashamed at how the interviews were conducted.  We live in a country where the majority of the population speaks little to no English.  To have a rule that the Miss Samoa pageant be conducted solely in English makes little sense to me.  I completely disagree with the Prime Minister and the STA in their stance to have only English questions asked during the Miss Samoa pageant. 

In a recent article in the Samoa Observer the Prime Minister alluded that one of the reasons why the rules were changed to have all English questions during the pageant was because we were not winning the Miss South Pacific Pageant due to the contestants’ inability to speak fluent English.  I am sorry Mr Prime Minister but not all English speakers win Miss South Pacific.  If we look at former Miss Samoa: Jolivette Ete we can see that her beauty can be likened to that of a model and to add to her assets she is an intelligent and articulate young woman whose grasp on the English language is close to that of a native English speaker.  Why do I bring up Jolivette you may ask, well even with her ability to speak fluent English, Jolivette was unable to secure the Miss South Pacific Title.  There are also other former Miss Samoa, who were all crowned after the introduction of English only questions at Miss Samoa who are like Jolivette namely Sherry Elekana, Gwendolyn Tuaitanu, Olevia Ioane and I am sure that the list goes on.  The ability to speak fluently in English is not what wins a beauty pageant.  In fact Miss Akiko Kojima winner of the 1959 Miss Universe was crowned even though she knew little English.

When I was younger I admit that I did watch Miss World and Miss Universe more so then because I liked to see the pretty dresses not as much to make fun of the interview responses.  But even at that young age I didn’t want to go to a country just because a Miss World was from there.  I admired her clothes and her hair but did not have the drive to travel to a country based on a beauty contest.  That is because a beauty contest is about admiring the beauty of the person and their clothes, shoes, earrings and hair; it is all about the beauty not the country.  Pageants are not the place to shine as an ambassador to a country.  It is where you win the rights to brag at having won more than one beauty competition.

Miss South Pacific and all other beauty pageants are a competition and most pageants allow translators.  Many times there is little to no time to prepare a Miss Samoa to contest in the Miss South Pacific.  That is where the STA should push to have a translator present for our contestants so they are able to speak in a language that they are comfortable with and are not made to look stupid just because their command of English is not perfect.  And that is exactly what STA did to two contestants at this year’s Miss Samoa by not allowing them to express their thoughts in their mother tongue. 

For public appearances at Travel conferences etc the winner of Miss Samoa will find it easier to be prepped on what to say because there is more time and set speeches can be memorized.  Whereas you can’t tell a contestant what to say during a competition because there is no guarantee what the question will be hence the need for a translator.

I have a few questions for the Prime Minister of Samoa and the Samoa Tourism Authority, what is the point of promoting Samoan as a language in Samoa if all we want are people who can speak fluent English?  Why not make English a prerequisite to all entrants of the Miss Samoa pageant?  Because it is discrimination!!!  What STA has done is complete discrimination to all those beautiful and intelligent young women who can only speak Samoan.  To have this kind of treatment in our own country against our own people is appalling.  I hope that you see that this practice is wrong and needs to be changed.  If you are not prepared to make that change then at least wear your discriminatory ways proudly and acknowledge that English speakers are your preference for all future Miss Samoa contestants, because in your minds only English speakers can win international beauty contests.