Usually when Ghana meets Naija, one of the two countries would play the role of host and give their citizens home field advantage in whatever the competition is about. Whether it is in football or in musical head-to-head competition, each country can lose to The Seychelles or Western Sahara – but they better not lose to each other.
That rivalry was on full display, albeit unscripted, in far away Tokyo, Japan as fate yet again pitched descendants of the two countries in another head-to-head contest.
Aisha Toshigi (Ghanaian father and Japanese mother) and Raimu Kaminashi (NIgerian father and Japanese mother) are actually best friends whose similar mixed race background and common modeling agency made them closer than the other 28 finalists.
But little did they know that the pageant would come down to the two of them starring at each other as they waited several seconds that felt like years to hear the name of one of them announced as winner of Miss Universe Japan 2020.
In separate interviews on DNT’s Diaspora Weekly, Aisha and Raimu took turns to cherish their African roots and send powerful messages to young girls in Africa and around the world on the reality of possibilities.
Possibilities came to Aisha and Raimu in different way. Aisha was born in Japan but spent seven of her early years in Madina, Accra where she was happy to meet and make friends with neighborhood kids who taught him English.
Raimu on the other hand was born in Bennin City of Nigeria but was whisked to Japan when she was six months old and has never had the opportunity to return. As a result, Raimu’s interview needed a translator in the person of Samuel Aning.
Aning’s Saitama, Japan based Bayside Acting and Modelling Agency is where the two beauties met as students. Raimu was a track and field athlete while Aisha signed up with a focus on modelling. Samuel Aning also runs Jafriq Radio, which broadcasts news and trending events from Africa to the African community in Japan.
But the magnitude of a Ghanaian-run acting and modelling agency in Japan producing the winner and first runner-up of Miss Universe Japan is not lost on observers who admit the feat as worthy of recognition.
As youngsters, what both mixed race girls had as baggage with school mates bullying them for their looks became an asset later as Japanese advertising agencies actively sought mixed race models for print and electronic media ad feature.
Japan is currently bucking the global trend of anti-immigrant sentiments and a phenomenon of recoiling from mixing the races. And the nation seem unbashful about registering its diversity credentials,
Four out of the final five contestants of the Miss Universe Japan were “hafu” or mixed race. Second runner-up Yuki Sonoda is Filipino-Japanese while fourth runner-up Marina Little is Kiwi-Japanese. Only Kilala Watanabe in not of mixed race among the five finalists.
In the end, Ghana edged out Nigeria in this edition of Ghana Meets Naija version that inadvertently featured in the most recent Miss Universe Japan in Tokyo, Japan.
DNT congratulates the two beauty queens and wish them well in their future endeavors.
Samuel Aning, DNT Tokyo, Japan