Page 4709 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 November 2018

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Another new event was launched one month ago, on 29 September. The Miss Africa Canberra pageant was staged to celebrate the cultural diversity of the capital’s young African Australians, and to bring the whole community together for an evening of fun and cultural exchange. Differently from other pageants, contestants were invited to model traditional dress, in addition to sharing their talents and knowledge. The organisers of this event saw it as an opportunity to encourage African Australians who were born here or who primarily grew up here to reconnect with their families’ cultures and traditions.

I rise today to congratulate Mr Kofi Osei Bonsu and his team on putting together a thoroughly enjoyable spectacular. I also wish to thank them for kindly extending to me an invitation to participate. Over 350 people attended on the evening, and the mood was one of jubilation. I loved seeing the contestants from various African nationalities honouring their heritage through beautiful clothing inspired by traditional African styles, as well as through their performances. The diversity in colour and design was a delight to the eye. More important, however, were the contestants’ answers to the judging panel’s questions, proving that they all had massive hearts, filled with charity and a deep desire to reach out and help others. I was inspired by each of these young women.

The winner of the pageant epitomises this inspiration. Nettie Kamanda was born the eldest of six children in the west African nation of Liberia and survived not one but two civil wars before the age of nine. Thankfully, she and her family then found welcome refuge here in Australia. “It doesn’t matter what your family circumstances were nor what you have been through,” she said, “because the past is a lesson and not a sentence.” She also paid great tribute to the importance of her family and their faith and principles by saying, “If you instil the right values in a girl while she is still young, she will grow into a strong woman, because no matter how tough life may be, she will always move forward because of that strong foundation.” I have no doubt that she will benefit greatly from the professional internship that has been offered to her as the winner of this event.

I have repeatedly stated in this space that the richness of our multicultural communities makes Canberra stronger. I think we can clearly say that this is the case when we consider the example of Ms Kamanda and the other strong, resilient, capable and beautifully diverse young women who showcased the wonders of Africa at this recent event. I understand that the organisers are already busy planning next year’s pageant and other similar events. I greatly look forward to these and to seeing our African communities assume an ever larger role in the social and civic life of this territory.

Youth Dance Festival

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.00): Canberra’s arts scene is ever growing, with an abundance of creatives of all ages. On Friday, 21 September I was invited to attend the Youth Dance Festival. I would first like to extend a very heartfelt congratulations to the manager of Ausdance ACT, Ms Emma Dykes, for an amazing show and a phenomenal festival over three days. This is the event’s 34th year. It showcased the

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