Angolans seem to love beauty pageants, and unlike Americans they have no problem parading around attractive young people without regard to gender. An Angolan friend of mine was organizing the “Mr. Benguela” event and was surprised by my enthusiastic response when he asked if I would be interested in attending. The fact that I could channel my enthusiasm through a female date visiting from Luanda was all the better.
The excitement we both had leading up to the night was tempered immediately when the sponser for the event abused us with a 47-minute power point presentation about globalization that appeared to be a summary of Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat.” While entertaining ourselves by swapping text messages with notes like “he is sucking my will to live” and “OMG, is he still talking?”, he rambled on and on, apparently unaware that he was standing between both the evening’s entertainment and, perhaps more importantly, the promised post-event dinner. The crazy part was that this presentation was apparently part of his sales pitch to get us to visit his table full of jewelry and shoes. Poor guy. Poor, clueless, sponsor guy.
The pace and audience interest picked up considerably once he finally shut up and the 22 candidates for Mr. Benguela entered the performance area and began a choreographed hiphop dance intro. The rest of the program invovled novel talent competition ideas, mostly centered around the theme of “Drugs Aren’t Cool.” There was a skit involving soccer players shunning a friend that was trying to convince the others to try pot. A surprisingly similar skit appeared later titled “Basketball” with pretty much the same plot. There was traditional dancing and some pretty bad singing, but my favorite event was something called “Locutor” on the program. This involved one candidate acting like a radio reporter, interviewing other candidates on the social ills of youth drug usage. Tragically, there was no swimsuit competition.
The "Locutor" in action:
The unofficial "look good in a wife-beater" competition:
Scene from "Basketball"...or was it "Soccer"?
The night ended without a winner being named – apparently this was only the first phase “introduction” of the candidates, and a second phase selection process happens later. Way to keep us in suspense, Mr. Benguela 2009 organizers! We enjoyed the aforementioned dinner with some quality champagne-like product that proudly advertised itself as “naturally lively white” and called it a night shortly thereafter. All in all not bad for a random Thursday night’s entertainment…
An "essence of champagne" beverage thoughtfully provided by the event sponsors: