By Majuto Omary | The Citizen
Tanzanian model Miriam Odemba was second in the Miss Earth 2008 pageant held in the Philippines on Sunday.
It was the first time that Tanzania finished in the top three positions in one of the most prestigious global beauty pageants.
Odemba also won the Miss Aficionado title in the tightly contested pageant featuring 85 contestants from all over the world.
Her victory breaks an eight-year barren spell for Africa, which last made a significant impact in the contest in 2002 when Kenyan Winfred Omwakwe won the crown in Manila.
Since 2002, most models from the continent performed poorly at the show. But in 2005, another Tanzanian, Rehema Sudi was placed as a top semifinalist.
“I am very happy to have finished as the first runner-up,” said Odemba in a telephone interview with The Citizen. “I thank God and Tanzanians who supported me during my preparations.”
She said her success was for the country, which she was representing.
Odemba said the competition was very tough, but she managed to fight with confidence to the grand finale. She had spent one month in camp in Angeles City.
Miss Philippines Karla Henry, 22, won the event with Miss Mexico Abigail Elizalde Miss Brazil Tatiane Alves finishing third and fourth, respectively.
Others who completed the line of eight finalists were Mariana Rodr�guez (Colombia), Adriana Rever�n (Spain), Nasanin Nuri (Switzerland) and Daniela Torrealba of Venezuela.
Hana Svobodov� (Czech Republic), Seo Seol-hee (Korea), Uko Ezinne (Nigeria), Karolina Filipkowska (Poland), Ruxandra Popa (Romania), Anna Mezentseva (Russia), Piyaporn Deejing (Thailand) and Jana Murrell (USA) were among the semifinalists.
According to Maria Sarungi, managing director Compass Communications and Miss Earth Tanzania organiser, the judges asked Odemba what advice she would give US President-elect Barack Obama if she were to meet him.
Sarungi said Odemba told them she would advice Obama to give some “serious thoughts” about addressing environmental issues and unemployment among the youths.
Odemba is expected to sign a management contract with the event organizers. She would stay in the Philippines for over two weeks to finalise the procedures.
After returning home, Compass Communications would supervise her activities while looking for other contract with the agencies.
Other African country representatives were Nametso Ngwako (Botswana), Olga Yumba (DRC), Katissia Kouta (Congo Republic), Kidan Tesfahun (Ethiopia) and Sara Adoley Addo of Ghana.
Also in the list were Marit Woods (Liberia), Cynthia Akazuba (Rwanda), Matapa Maila (South Africa), Nok Nora Duany (Sudan) and Ugandan Daisy Nabagereka.