The Native African Student Organization (NASO) announced their new Mr. and Mrs. NASO on the night of March 27. Different organizations from Montclair State University including Daughta Speaks, Complexions, Haitian Student Organization (HSA), Caribbean Student Organization (CSO), Ladies First and Alpha Kappa Alpha and students from different schools came to celebrate not only the pageant but also African and Caribbean culture.
From Formal and Sleepwear to Talents and Royalty, each contestant did not disappoint in the various categories. Participants walked down the runway to Afrobeats and other notable Black singers.
The judges were former Mr. NASO Ernst Lozin, and former Mrs. NASO Vivian Odubanjo, along with Tyler Anderson, a senior business administration major, and Na’Dree Stewart, a junior anthropology major. They asked the contestants questions, which played a factor in determining the new king and queen.
From his notable attire to his dance performances, Tommy Robert, a sophomore fashion studies major, filled the runway with exuberance and left the crowd wanting more. He answered the question: How can the world be a better place?
“The simple fact is that children are the future of the world, we are the future leaders and if we give them the chance to express themselves, be vocal about their opinions and emotions, the possibilities are endless,” Robert said.
Fatoumata Amar, a senior fashion studies major, expressed the importance of education.
“Education is highly important to me because growing up in an African household, it was embedded in me that education is the passport to the future, as Malcom X said,” Amar said. “My grandfather didn’t have the chance to get a proper education. So by getting an education, I am my grandfather’s dream and as well as my future kids’.”
Amar graced the runway representing her country wearing attire from Senegal in Africa.
Jalill Philemon, a senior theatre studies major, expressed the importance of financial literacy for young adults.
“If there’s anything I could change in America, it would be [to] teach financial literacy in our schools,” Philemon said. “Especially for us [college students] because we are at the age where we’re about to switch over and get our own places. Learning how to budget and put money to the side, learning how to save and say no to certain activities so you can have more fun in the future is important.”
Before the final category and the announcement of the Mr. and Mrs. NASO, NASO’s Dance Troupe performed a dance entitled “A Love Story.”
Mary Olatunji, a senior public health major and one of the dancers of “A Love Story,” said how freeing it felt to dance.
“Honestly, dancing is my happy place [because] you get to be yourself and enjoy the moment so I was excited to dance tonight and the energy in the room was amazing,” Olatunji said.
The pageant closed with the contestants showing off their best-dressed look in the “royalty” category.
The executive board of NASO, the judges and contestants came together with the audience to announce Amar as Mrs. NASO and Robert as Mr. NASO.
Amar expressed how happy she felt to represent not only Africa but her country, Senegal.
“I really love it because not only am I getting to represent the entire African continent, but I’m getting to represent my country Senegal because a lot of people know Africa but I feel like they only represent the countries that they know,” Amar said. “So by winning Mrs. NASO, I show them that Senegal is in the building.”
Robert said he was excited while preparing throughout the entire process, as it relates to his field of study. He says he’s grateful to celebrate his hard work by winning Mr. NASO.
“I feel amazing, I feel like a trailblazer because I don’t know for sure [but] I believe I’m the first openly gay person to win Mr. NASO,” Robert said. “I love dressing up, I’m a fashion major and I love show business so this is, like, my thing.”
Francis Oppong, the president of NASO and a senior business administration major with a concentration in international business, was pleased with the outcome of the event.
“I think it came out great,” Oppong said. “This pageant hasn’t been done in five to six years. This is the first time we bought it back. My vice president and I were kind of afraid because we haven’t done this in a while. But it actually came out more successful than we thought it would.”
NASO holds their general body meetings every other Wednesday from 4-5 p.m. and welcomed all to attend.