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Agbani Darego - Former Miss World

Agbani Darego Miss World 2001, most beautiful girl in Nigeria and 7th place in Miss Universe - Wow!Little did Nigerians know that a baby girl born Ibiagbanidokibubo Asenite Darego, and affectionately known as "Agbani," was to be given the title of Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 2001.  And that's just the beginning.

While a first-year student of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria (where she majored in Computer Science), Agbani Darego represented Nigeria in the 2001 Miss Universe competition, held in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Agbani placed among the top 10 semi-finalists, finishing at seventh.

Usually, the winner of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria competition represents the country at the Miss Universe, and the winner of the Miss Nigeria competition represents Nigeria at the Miss World
pageant, but due to a controversy that year involving the Miss Nigeria winner's academic qualifications and age, Agbani was chosen to replace her at the Miss World contest.

Agbani won the title of Miss World 2001
pageant held in South Africa. This made her the first-ever black African winner of the title. The show was hosted by US talk show host Jerry Springer, and Agbani Darego's victory was widely hailed in Nigeria as a welcome bit of good news. Nigeria was just getting out of an extended stretch of military dictatorships, the economy was largely in the dumps, and people were eager for some good news. The surprise win gave fresh impetus to the beauty pageant industry in the country, and vindicated the optimistic prediction of the organizer of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria competition, who had said that his aim in starting the competition more than 10 years earlier was to produce a Nigerian winner of either Miss World pageant or Miss Universe.

Agbani Darego dropped out of the University of Port Harcourt after her reign as Miss World ended. Agbani is currently pursuing a modelling career in Europe, with attempts to break out in North America.


Controversy of Miss World 2002 in Nigeria

The world saw its first black African winner, Agbani Darego, in 2001. In 2002 the competition was slated for Calabar, Cross River State of Nigeria. This choice was controversial, as a northern Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal, was awaiting death by stoning for adultery under Sharia law there, but Miss World chose to use the publicity surrounding its presence to bring greater global awareness and action to Amina's plight. In the year leading up the finals in Nigeria, several European title holders lobbied their governments and the EU parliament to support Amina's cause. A ThisDay (Lagos, Nigeria) newspaper editorial suggesting that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, would probably have chosen one of his wives from among the contestants had he been alive to see it, resulted in riots that started on November 22 in which over 200 people were killed. Because of these riots, the 2002 pageant was moved to London. A fatwa urging the beheading of the woman who wrote the offending words, Isioma Daniel, was issued in Nigeria, but was declared null and void by the relevant Saudi Arabian authorities. The eventual winner of the pageant was Azra Akin of Turkey, the first predominantly Muslim country to hold the title since Egypt in 1954. She was followed by Ireland's Rosanna Davison, daughter of the "Lady in Red" singer Chris de Burgh. In 2004 the crown was decided for the first time by a global vote, resuling in the victory of Peru's Maria Julia Mantilla and the return of the title to Latin America after nine years. Stoning is a form of capital punishment in which a human is put to death by having stones thrown at them repeatedly, generally by a crowd, the normal form, allowing society at large to participate in the administration of justice.

We wish to congratulate Agbani Darego on her title and hope to see more African women achieve worldwide recognition.



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