There is a Sudanese proverb that goes like this, we desire to pass on two things to our children; the first one is roots, the other one is wings. I believe for most immigrants this proverb is at the very core of the daily sacrifices that are made. Roots to never forget your heritage, where you came from and the sacrifices that were made for you, and wings to be able to soar higher than the previous generation and navigate paths that were SECURED for you. This is how my parents live, how I was raised and how I aim to live.
I was born in Lagos Nigeria to a Nigerian father and Ghanaian mother, and moved to Accra Ghana with my family as a toddler. I spent my formative years in Ghana and resided there till I moved to the United States at age 15. I am proud of the roots and wings that have been passed on and or that I have grown thanks to my parents, my home countries, my OPPORTUNITIES and experiences.
My year as Miss Ghana USA 2014 has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people, make life long friendships and most importantly REFINE and pursue my passion more enthusiastically. It has been a great journey and the biggest reward has been making a positive impact in the lives of others through my platform.
My platform is DIABETES AWARENESS and education in Africa. This passion of mine came to life shortly after the death of my Grand mother. My Grand mother was individual I was close to and respected dearly. She was diabetic for as long as I could remember, but I never remembered her condition being a dire one. I learned later that Diabetes is a silent disease and complications happen after years of uncontrolled high blood sugar. Unfortunately my Grand mother eventually lost the battle to complications from diabetes. She suffered 2 strokes and an amputation. After the loss of my Grandmother, Diabetes caught my attention.
I learned more about it. ACCORDING to the international diabetes federation, Diabetes is a growing pandemic; it burdens and cripples economies by increasing health costs, and decreasing productivity. Diabetes is also most prevalent in certain ethnic groups, primarily Native Americans, those of African descent. These statistics are staggering.
I recognized the dire need for professionals who could explain in detail to the public how medications work, how to use them, the importance of adherence, side effect to look out for, how to manage medications, avoid drug interactions and how to get the most benefit from prescribed medications. These were all factors that had played a role in the deteriorating health of my Grand mother so the profession of PHARMACY, which ADDRESSED all these factors, enticed me.
I currently work as a board certified pharmacist in the state of Kansas, where I manage a pharmacy in an underserved area in the city of Wichita Kansas. I have the opportunity to serve my community every day and make an impact in the management of medications. I am proud of my city Wichita, my home away from home and I am thankful for privilege of serving the Wichita community through the profession of Pharmacy.
The Miss Ghana USA pageant allowed me to extend my reach by giving me a wider audience and the rare opportunity to return to Ghana to spread my passion of Diabetes awareness and Education. I was fortunate to work with other health care professionals in Ghana on a daylong Diabetes workshop in the town of Ahwerase. I worked along side a cardiologist and nurses from the well-known Korle-bu teaching hospital. About 200 residents of Ahwerase came out to the Diabetes workshop and listened to a presentation in the native language, Twi. The presentation covered understanding diabetes, lifestyle changes, food choices and exercise, medications and proper use, and comorbid conditions particularly wounds, amputations, heart attacks, strokes and hypertension. Blood sugars levels were tested and results explained to each participant. Finally 10 glucometers, 600 retractable lancets and 1000 test strips were DONATED to the Ahwerase local clinic courtesy of wound care solutions, a wound care company in Wichita Kansas.
Though my reign has ended my goal to raise diabetes awareness in Africa hasn’t. In the United States, I continue to work with other organizations like Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION, who share the same mission. I also hope that my message will continue to be spread through my Diabetes awareness public service announcement, which was debuted on the valentine episode of Gifty Anti’s show the standpoint in Accra Ghana.
It’s been a great year! I am humbled and honored to the one chosen to represent Ghana in the United States. I have been fortunate to travel around the United States meeting wonderful individuals who have served as support and inspiration. Much gratitude to my friends and family. To my sponsors and supporters an eternal thank you for enhancing my experience as Miss Ghana USA, truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. To all my followers on social media thank you all for YOUR support and encouragement and last but not least, my sincerest gratitude to Bella Mafia Lash and Hairyum for selecting me as their brand ambassador.
Ghana is home to many amazing resources, a rich HISTORY and most importantly phenomenal people. I am proud to be representing the gateway to Africa! The land that hailed trailblazers such as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first African president to give Africa a taste of independence. I will always be eternally grateful for this year, this honor, this experience and this opportunity.
To the girls competing in 2015 and beyond I wish you all the best. Keep YOUR heads up regardless of the situation. Laugh, pray, love and surround yourself with positive people. Looking forward to crowning our next Queen! Yours truly
My childhood was a colorful one, filled with bright days and rays of the West African sun. If I could give you a snapshot of it, it would contain images of family and classmates, pets (dogs, cats and a monkey), adventures around the neighborhood with my “posse” in Ikeja, Lagos and later on the beautiful and un-tarred roads and alleys of McCarthy hill in Accra, Ghana. Those were fun, simple and cherished times. They were the times where the world was fair and there was no grave harm, needs or problems. It was the world through the eyes of my African childhood.
It wasn’t till I set foot on American soil at the age of 15 that I realized how the outside world viewed Africa and me, and even then, it took some years for that realization to come into full focus. It wasn’t until then that I saw my Ghana, my Africa through the world’s lenses. After tasting the conveniences of the western world and seeing processes unfold, I have so often looked back at my homeland and or remembered experiences that automatically awaken a burning desire in me TO PLAY a significant role in improving circumstances and the quality of life for Ghanaians in Ghana.
I live and PRACTICE as a retail pharmacist in Wichita Kansas and I have lived in Wichita ever since I moved to the United States. It is a like a small town with a moderate dose of a big city feel and a decent-sized African community. However, I am reminded every time I visit other big cities how small of a Ghanaian representation my American hometown, Wichita has. For this reason being a representative of my country, in a place where few people know about or have stereotypes of is a reality for me. Therefore, I try my best to be a positive representation of what today’s African young woman is.
Today’s African modern woman maintains a healthy BALANCE between not forgetting her roots/traditions and keeping abreast with the demands, challenges and task of the western world. She is humble, respectful and respected, intelligent, a go-getter, a self-starter, a team player, a problem solver, she takes constructive criticism, sacrifices and is constantly reinventing herself. These qualities give her the fortitude and strength to pursue and hold a title as prestigious as Miss Ghana USA with poise and elegance.
While I have a lot to learn and indeed I learn something new every day, I possess these qualities of a today’s African modern woman. I am confident that I will represent the Miss Ghana USA organization, my COUNTRY and my peers admirably. It is for this reason that I, Akua Tokunboh should be crowned Miss Ghana USA.
I hope to once again walk the streets of Accra Ghana, but this time with the blessing of Miss Ghana USA organization and or its affiliates and a mission to execute my platform of Raising Awareness and DIABETES EDUCATION in Ghana. Touching the lives of Ghanaians and Africans in Africa and abroad through the fruits of my platform or pure inspiration is a privilege and a great honor that I look forward to. Thank you.