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  Success, People, Community

  The Epic Beauty Queen of Cape Verde



The Republic of Cape Verde is widely known for its wonderful melting pot both of colour and culture tied with morna, a form of folk music typically sung in the Cape Verdean Creole. The beautiful country also boasts the classic music style of funana and batuque.

WITH SUBTROPICAL CLIMATE AND HEAVENLY BEAUTY, the great contrasting islands hold fertile valleys and plateaus adding rich vegetation of date, mango, coconut palms, citrus, almond, papaya and orange trees. Old colonial picturesque architecture grace the land with diverse landscaping, captivating sandy beaches with calm translucent turquoise waters and mighty mountains surround the many islands of Cape Verde that welcomes the islanders each and everyday.

While the above is true Cape Verde has recently become widely known for its great win in Banjul, the Gambia. On December 18, 2011 a historical day was marked for Cape Verde when it was announced at the eclectic styled Kairaba Beach Senegambia hotel to the immense audience and many viewers that a Cape Verdean is the winner of the beauty queen pageantry. Ivanlida Reis, but prefers to be addressed as Vanny, 26, became the very first beauty queen to be crowned Miss West Africa International (MWAI). The massive crowd went wild with cheers, claps and whistles while they screamed Vanny’s name right before her crowning. The 6ft tall statuesque frame bombshell beauty graciously accepted her bedazzled gold crown with honor and a radiant smile, waving to the audience wearing a long gold dress with five embroidered miniature size cream flowers accentuating down the middle, white tulle around the bustier that flounces from the knee to the bottom of the dress embezzled with scads of crystals fitted just for a queen. Vanny dedicated her momentous win to the late legendary Cape Verdean singer Cesario Evora, known for winning over international audiences with her slow, melancholy ballads about love and sorrow. Cesario Evora was nicknamed the “barefoot diva,” she always performed barefoot as a sign of solidarity with the impoverished women of her island.

Vanny, the international title holder triumphed over 24 talented young ambassadors of West African origins. “I was not expecting to win, but I was very excited all the same. To be the winner of Miss West Africa International it makes me very happy to represent my country, so winning was a beautiful and enjoyable experience.”

MWAI beauty pageant, the most anticipated event celebrated each year in Banjul, the Gambia to promote West African culture, beauty and lifestyle to the foreign world. MWAI was co-hosted by Nollywood award winning actress and Vox Africa presenter olafemi Bela. The popular occasion seen by millions of viewers worldwide, the zenith of the beauty pageant takes place from USA, Ghana, Italy, Cameroon, and many other countries across West Africa and the Diaspora. The event attracts people from many nations who come together to procure a magical night of elegance, culture, great food and excellent entertainment while; experiencing a worldwide event live and direct. The contestants are scored on intelligence, talent, beauty and charitable causes to which Vanny surpassed in each category making her the crowd’s favorite and pageant winner.

It has been a roller coaster ride for the auburn curly haired model since her magnanimous win. Miss West Africa has helped Vanny to become a high in-demand and much sought after professional model. The newly crowned beauty queen has landed modeling gigs working for talented fashion designers and has already been invited to grace the catwalk in Ghana and Nigeria’s fashion weeks which she is all too grateful. With her career on the immediate rise and a jam packed busy schedule Vanny has never been one to shy away from hard work, always ready to push her career to the forefront,”I’m ready for the next level, I work hard out here, I have my business and accolades; now its time to expand, Miss West Africa Cape Verde is a great opportunity for me!”

Before being crowned MWAI, the multi-talented, Ms. Reis wore many hats. She is a professional model who has worked for modeling Agencies like Hits Producoes and TEAM Brazil modeling agency all based in Brazil. She has travelled to many countries such as Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, Sao Tome and Angola for their fashion week. Ms. Reis owns her own modeling agency called Vaiss Models Management Inc (VMMI) established in Praia. VMMI’s goal is not only to teach aspiring models how to become successful in a tough and unpredictable modeling industry, instead VMMI focus is to also educate its students on how to navigate their way in the world to become successful business men and women after departing the model stage.

Reis, is the editor at Krioula, a top fashion magazine in Praia, Cape Verde, she is preparing to launch her own online fashion magazine and fashion clothing line for both men and women. In addition, Reis received her undergraduate degree in physical education from University of Estadual Da Paraiba, Campina Grande-Brasil, her graduate degree from University of Integradas de Patos, Campina Grande- Paraiba, Brasil. She is a fitness instructor fanatical about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and the many health issues in Africa. In Africa, the health threats are of a great magnitude, the multitude of health issues surround the continent daily such as HIVS/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, tuberculosis and other related illnesses.

The beauty queen is the goodwill ambassador for Cape Verde; she hopes to increase West Africa’s tourism by highlighting all the great aspect of her native country with a mandate to help boost the economy. “It is very important that the world sees West Africa for all its hospitality, beautiful locations, cultural and economic contributions to the world. West Africa is not only about conflict, disease, hungry and misery; it is also culture, music, art, family, love and peace.” More than delighted to promote her country of birth, Reis is on a mission to put it on the world map of tourism.

The phrase, ‘a force to be reckoned with’ indubitably describes Vanny Reis. She has proven that she is not just a pretty face with iridescent beauty, typical of a professional model whose face often graces the cover of magazines and catwalks. Though blessed with stunning features, it is quite evident that Vanny is not the average beauty queen, she possess much more than that. The mutli talented and multifaceted Vanny will continue to live multiple lives as entrepreneur, business woman and owner, Cape Verd’s ambassador, dedicated humanitarian and we must not forget that she is Cape Verd’s beauty queen and the epic title holder of Miss West Africa International 2011.

By Simone Da Costa

This article was first published in Africulture Magazine June, 2012.

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