Ack­era Gowie, Miss Ja­maica Fes­ti­val Queen 2018: Ready to fix things

Jamaica Gleaner - - OUTLOOK - LIFE­STYLE WRITER

WHAT CAN I do for my coun­try? Here’s a ques­tion many may have never se­ri­ously con­sid­ered. How­ever, it’s the fuel that drives Ack­era Gowie and pro­pels her be­yond her lim­i­ta­tions. Gowie, the newly crowned Miss Ja­maica Fes­ti­val Queen, is a strong force to be reck­oned with, and one who has set out to make a dif­fer­ence.

Named af­ter her favourite food, ackee, she hails from Ranch, St Mary, a tiny, ru­ral com­mu­nity that has helped her to evolve into a ‘true Ja­maican woman’. “My child­hood was like a movie, with dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of all gen­res. I grew up with my mother in a big yard with a lot of cousins, aunts, and un­cles. So, there were mo­ments of fun, ad­ven­ture, hor­ror, sad­ness, and com­edy. But all those ex­pe­ri­ences made me who I am,” she told Out­look in a re­cent in­ter­view.

WORK­ING WITH YOUTH

Mo­ti­vated by her mother and best friend to con­quer all her fears and ex­cel, this nat­u­ral op­ti­mist pushes re­lent­lessly to achieve her goals and de­sires. She yearns to work with the younger gen­er­a­tion. “I plan to work di­rectly with youths across my parish, to help guide them to es­tab­lish a vi­sion for their lives.” She firmly be­lieves that one must first have a vi­sion for life be­fore any­thing else, as that is what drives the wings of pur­pose. As a Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s I Be­lieve Ini­tia­tive am­bas­sador, Gowie also plans to con­tinue work­ing with her team to im­ple­ment projects that will bring forth great fruits. Stick­ing to her group’s man­date she in­tends to use what is ‘right with Ja­maica to fix what is wrong with Ja­maica.’

Gowie is fond of the Ja­maican cul­ture. To her, it’s more than a way of life, it’s much more sim­ple be­liefs and val­ues. It’s a mass col­lec­tion of arts, which is worth ev­ery ef­fort to pre­serve and share. And this is what she works tire­lessly to achieve. “Dukunu, toto, drops, these are what I’m used to, if we’re talk­ing dessert. But if you look at many young Ja­maicans these days, it’s pop tart, cho­co­late cake, and things along these lines. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with lik­ing those foods, I just think it’s a shame when Ja­maicans have no con­nec­tion with the lit­tle things that help us re­tain our iden­tity,” the queen ex­plained.

Her ap­pre­ci­a­tion for cul­ture and ado­ra­tion for the peo­ple of the isle, which she calls home, are the ma­jor fac­tors that fash­ioned her in­ter­est in the Ja­maica Cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (JCDC) Fes­ti­val Queen Com­pe­ti­tion.

The 23-year-old has been ad­mir­ing the com­pe­ti­tion for ages, vow­ing that one day af­ter fin­ish­ing her stud­ies, she would reach for and grasp the hon­ourable

crown. The road to the throne was one of courage, ded­i­ca­tion, plea­sure, and of course, patches here and there with a lit­tle stint of chal­lenges. None­the­less, she was de­ter­mined to win, mak­ing her­self and fam­ily proud. She even stole their voices with her vic­tory.

GAVE UP HER JOB

Re­sign­ing her nine-to-five in pur­suit of the crown, and even more so to ful­fil her pur­pose to her coun­try, was an act of faith, and to­day it’s a sacri­fice that brings joy to her life. “I hope to serve as an in­spi­ra­tion to young girls, es­pe­cially like my­self who grew up in the ru­ral ar­eas. I want them to start be­liev­ing that they can be any­thing they want to be with God, goals and grit. Also, I want to es­tab­lish my com­mu­nity project ‘Ecomoney’, which fo­cuses on the three things I am most pas­sion­ate about – youth de­vel­op­ment, en­trepreneur­ship and the en­vi­ron­ment. Ecomoney pro­vides a plat­form for young peo­ple to play their part in pro­tect­ing and pre­serv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment by up­cy­cling, while gen­er­at­ing funds for them­selves and con­tribut­ing to our econ­omy,” she ex­plained. One of her dreams is to travel the world to ex­pe­ri­ence the vary­ing cul­tures for all they are worth, and share hers in the process. This knack for travelling stems from her in­ter­est in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, which was born out of a shift in ca­reer op­tions af­ter fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties hin­dered her from com­plet­ing her law de­gree.

Gowie cur­rently holds a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence de­gree in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. Af­ter vis­it­ing places like Puerto Li­mon, which has man­aged to cap­ture and mimic the am­bi­ence of Kingston, she has been com­pelled to show oth­ers the whole­some beauty of her coun­try. She said, “I have all the love in the world for Kingston. We are all Ja­maicans, af­ter all. I just feel like many peo­ple who are not from Ja­maica of­ten get the im­pres­sion that Ja­maica be­gins and ends in Kingston and St An­drew.”

Miss Ja­maica Fes­ti­val Queen 2018 – Miss St Mary, Ack­era Gowie. Rocheda Bart­ley

Miss Ja­maica Fes­ti­val Queen 2018 Ack­era Gowie (sec­ond right) pre­sented with her prize cheque by (from left) in­terim Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of JCDC Orville Hill; pa­tron Juliet Hol­ness; and Min­is­ter of Cul­ture, Gen­der, En­ter­tain­ment and Sport Olivia Grange.

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