OPINION & FAVOURITES

Atong Demach: The Pride of South Sudan

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She is beautiful, elegant and very classy. Her bright smile and bright personality radiates from within and shine on her face. She is an amazing person, she is strong and kind-hearted too. She is Atong Demach – the beautiful African Queen.

SS3I first came to know about Atong at the Miss Earth contest in 2010. Ever since then I have been a fan of her beauty and for the person she is. In fact it was the first time I saw South Sudan in any pageant. It was surprising to know before her, there were already two other beautiful women who had represented South Sudan. All I heard about South Sudan during those time was the political turmoil and civil wars. Never knew they had contested in Miss Earth before. Anyway I was more than happy to see them competing in beauty pageant. I was really impressed with Atong’s personality and beauty. She was unique. Many beauty pageant fans had her in the top 15 favourites.

15-jpg-1362455426-1362456122_500x0At the Miss Earth contest held in Vietnam, She left a good impression and was well-loved by the locals due to her friendly and amiable and vibrant personality. Unfortunately on the final night she couldn’t make it to the top 15. It really broke my heart to see her being unplaced. Thought she deserved to be there. She was witty, tall and had a body to make it through besides her already likeable personality. I thought to myself if ever I could see her again in major pageants like Miss World. Who knew my prayer was going to be answered after two years.

Then in 2011, South Sudan became an official country. Atong was crowned Miss World South Sudan and was supposed to represent the newly country in Miss World pageant for the first time in history or the first Sudanese woman to compete in major pageant. But there were some questions raised on the significant of being Miss South Sudan and if there would be any changed in the society as nothing was happening. Then another problem emerged. She was denied a visa so she couldn’t compete in Miss World 2011. But Atong is a strong woman and she has a genuine mission. Those obstacles were not going to dampen her spirit. Atong means war, as given by her parents because she was born during the long Sudan’s civil war. She is quite the opposite of what her name means as compare to her vibrant personality and strong ambitious and determination. Maybe she has channelled in positive energy from all the experience that she had gone through. Since she couldn’t compete in 2011, as luck would have it, she got a chance to compete in 2012.

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Miss World 2012 began in Ordos, China. Suddenly people from around the world started recognizing her. She was among the fans favourite along with Mexico, Columbia, Australia and China. She has the height and looks to be a world-class top model but she also has the charm and sweet serenity of a Miss World. As the fast track events began she became stronger and stronger, got noticed for her looks and modelesque feature. She made it to the top 20 of Beach Fashion. The Top model contest featured Graham Black’s collection for ‘Erdos 1436’, she looked like a world-class supermodel. She looked breathtaking and gorgeous in the two dresses worn by her for the event. I personally like the one with multiple hues such as orange, black, yellow-red etc on the cream colour dress. That dress was just perfect. It really complimented her skin tone and I love it. To these days I still love looking at that dress on her. She carried it with style. As expected, she won Top Model.

Can you believe she even top the interview round? With such a strong charisma, bubbly personality, witty and/or an honest and a genuine heart, she must have had impressed the judges. One of her intention to participate in the contest was not just to earn fame for herself but also to bring her country on the international map and show the issues that is ranging in South Sudan. Her final answer in the top 7 reflects her motive. During the top 15 introduction, Atong in the strapless blue gown looked so stunning and fabulous. Her stage presence was remarkable indeed. Then the top 7 final question and answer round came. I wasn’t too excited for her gown. Having said that she covered up the flaws in her gown by her appealing personality. The yellow colour definitely matched her cheerful personality. All the 7 finalists had to answer a common question, “Why should you be the next Miss World?” I just love the way she conducted herself on stage. She was full of energy, positivity and her friendly attitude was impressive. The way she put her arms around the host, Jason Cook, was noteworthy. Then she said, ”As a young girl growing up in a country with wars, seeing my people homeless, poor without education and losing someone every single day, If I am here today it’s because I’ve learned to take every day as a new chance to learn more, to give more and to love more. I believe we truly make life of what we give and there’s nothing more wonderful than making a child’s mind and have a great hope for a better future. That’s the beauty I stand for and that’s beauty with a purpose.” This was definitely a straight from the heart answer and there was no pretense to her answer. It was genuine and very patriotic feeling with a mission to bring the problems of South Sudan to the international front. I really like her answer and thought she will end up with the crown with India/Australia/China as her runners-up.

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When Miss Julia Morley announced the 2nd runner-up I was thinking if South Sudan wasn’t going to be Miss World, at least let her be the runners-up. So I was literally calling South Sudan everytime Julia announced the winners. Miss Australia was 2nd runner-up. For the first runner-up I was praying South Sudan be the 1st runner-up if not Miss World. Miss Wales was adjudged 1st runner-up. Miss World winner was going to be announced I became more nervous and excited. I thought it was going to be South Sudan and if not her then it was going to be India. Alas! Miss China won. I felt so emotional. But Miss China, Yu Wenxia also deserved the crown. Wenxia is extremely beautiful woman and was always among my top 5 favourites to win the crown. It was just that I had so much of hope and love for Atong that I was ignoring Wenxia though I feel she proved herself after her win with her calm and graceful personality. Atong came 4th and was crowned Miss World Africa title.

Being the first South Sudanese to compete in Miss World and to achieve this feat is outstanding. What’s more remarkable is that she is the first African and the first black contestant to win Miss World top model contest. I am so happy and proud for her. Looking at her journey from Miss Earth to Miss World contest, she impresses me a lot and is definitely an icon for her country. And she silenced those who were questioning her when she was crowned Miss World South Sudan. There might not be much change in the society as question by those critics but it does bring pride and happiness to the people who have been subjected to a long civil war besides bringing international attention to her country.

Atong Demach with Japanese contingent forces, leading the 'clean Juba' campaign at the Juba - Nabari road,

Atong Demach with Japanese contingent forces, leading the ‘clean Juba’ campaign at the Juba – Nabari road,

Today, she is working for her country as an ambassador. She was appointed by the government of South Sudan as Ambassador for culture. In 2013, she was named as brand ambassador for [ZTE] Chinese multinational telecommunications’ equipment and Systems Company. Recently, she was appointed as International Public Relations Advisor for Japan Government agency [JICA]. Besides working for the government as ambassador, she is also a professional businesswoman. She is the owner of Demach production, which produce and organize Beauties of South Sudan. Aren’t these achievements praiseworthy? She proved woman can multi task.

With a number of fans around the world specially those loyal supporters in her country, Atong Demach is now a celebrity and she will continue to work for the betterment of her country. Despite her celebrity status, she is modest and a humble person who hasn’t forgotten her roots and where she comes from. She is deeply rooted to her homeland so she will continue to work for her people in the best possible way she can. It is these qualities that really attract me towards her and why I love Miss World. The contestants of Miss World know what is the true purpose of being hail as one the most beautiful women in their country and in the world. Atong is definitely a beauty with a purpose.

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