Surprises all-round as beloved ‘Mother and Daughter’ pageant returns


By Vishani Ragobeer

It was a night- and early morning- of surprises as mothers and daughters graced the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown for the return of the beloved ‘Mother and Daughter’ pageant.

Like most treasured events, this pageant was not held over the past two years due to health concerns emanating from the COVID-19 pandemic. On Saturday night, however, the National Cultural Centre was filled with women, children and some men eagerly enjoying the pageant’s return.

And this year’s contestants- based on crowd reactions- did not disappoint.

The duo who seemed to steal the night was Melisa Smartt and her daughter Irwena, the eventual winners of the Senior Category.

Melisa Smartt and her daughter Irwena (centre), were winners of the Senior Category at the 2022 Mother and Daughter Pageant. They are joined by the second and third place duos in photo (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/ News Room/ May 8, 2022)

Melisa is an Assistant Records Management Officer at the Bank of Guyana while Irwena, a final year International Relations student at the University of Guyana (UG). Dressed in their bright red dresses, you could not distinguish who was shy and reserved from who was outgoing.

“She’s a very shy person, so it was a rollercoaster getting here but she honestly embodied her beauty,” Irwena told the News Room after she and her mother were crowned the winners.

The mothers and daughters who participated in the Senior Category at the 2022 Mother and Daughter Pageant (Photo: Vishani Ragobeer/ News Room/ May 8, 2022)

Melisa agreed and chuckled alongside her daughter when it was disclosed that before this pageant, she (Melisa) never wore any makeup or a wig, nor did she ever get her nails done.

But the duo, Melissa said, was intent on winning- and they did so by keeping their routine and final look a surprise until pageant night.

In the Junior category, Yonette Holder and her daughter Jayla McFarlane took the crowns at the 2022 Mother and Daughter Pageant (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/ News Room/ May 8, 2022)

“I know that once we come on stage, we are going to perform and no one could stop us because we have this bond,” Melisa said, explaining that she and her daughter have an unbreakable bond of trust.


Joining the winners’ row were Natoya Hamilton and her daughter Nia who won in the Middle category. Hamilton, like most of the mothers who participated, posited that the competition brought them closer to their daughters.

In the Junior category, Yonette Holder and her daughter Jayla McFarlane took the crowns. And Young McFarlane, who was unnerved by the sizable crowd cheering at every step she took across the stage, said that the entire experience was “so fun.”

“She’s a dancer, she could handle the crowd and so she was pretty confident,” her mother, Holder, said.

The surprises that night were not limited to the mothers and daughters on stage. In fact, what seemed to enrapture the audience, or atleast a large portion of the audience, was the men and their mothers who participated in a special segment.

The likes of local musician Drew Thoven, bodybuilder Kerwin Clarke, sports journalist Rawle Toney, fashion designer Quinton Pearson and politician Daniel Seeram kept the crowd quite entertained in-between segments.

Politician Daniel Seeram presented his mother with a bouquet of flowers during the special sons and mother segment (Photo: Shaconeil Burnette/ News Room/ May 8, 2022)

Meanwhile, co-producer of the pageant Dr. Sulan Fung said that the organising team anxiously awaited the return of the pageant.

“We didn’t know where the country was heading with the pandemic and we were even thinking that we could do a virtual event and as the numbers decreased, we were so happy that we could go back outside,” Dr. Fund said.

With the delayed hosting of this edition of the pageant, the 30th production will be held next year. And that, she says, promises to be a grand celebration.

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