It's Valentine's Day and love is in the air for 20-year-old Irene Akosua Boatemaa Dwomoh. Since being crowned Miss Ghana last July, the 5ft 10 beauty has been spotted on several occasions in London, where she met the man she describes as his "very close friend”, Chelsea and Ghana midfield ace, Michael Essien.
The night after the Black Stars trounced the Green Eagles of Nigeria, Essien met Irene in the elevator of the Heathrow Marriot Hotel, where the team camped. The Chelsea star's comment said it all: “Irene, I guess you should now switch your support from Chelsea to Udinese.”
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan, 21, who may be moving from Udinese to Lokomotiv Moscow soon, appears to have not missing some of his goals after all.
Inter-continental investigations undertaken by The Statesman have revealed that the current Miss Ghana, whose reign ends on March 2, has been the striker's inamorato since November 2006.
However, when Irene was confronted by our reporter at the Alisa Hotel yesterday with the facts, shyly sipping her cappuccino with a teaspoon, she repeatedly denied the story. She even denied knowing Essien.
But, the evidence, including photos that will be exclusively revealed later, were too overwhelming.
“We don't see each other much,” she finally admitted about her relationship with Asamoah Gyan.
“He stays in Italy and I'm in Ghana and he can't stop his work and come here.”
Asked about her hopes for the relationship, Irene said, “I'm not hoping for anything for the two of us. Time will tell.”
While coyly insisting, “he's just a friend,” Irene described Gyan, who missed plenty of sitters in the 4-1 thrashing of Nigeria last week, as “kind, nice and a gentleman.”
The lady who recently went to London on a two-thousand pound shopping spree, cautioned future Miss Ghanas. “You have to be very, very careful as Miss Ghana. May be you'll need a lot of money because of your growing expenses and people will exploit that and come and try their luck because you're Miss Ghana - 'let me try her.' If you're not careful, they'll have sex with you and they'll forget you. Another man will also come because his friend tells him, 'so let me also try.'”
Irene, the dark, tall, innocent girl with the skin of a goddess, did not have a boyfriend when she entered the competition last year.
Her only boyfriend before that was a 19-year-old boy she used to write letters to when she was in SS1 at Yaa Asantewaa Secondary School, Kumasi, nearly five years ago.
Since then she has been widely rumoured as being the girlfriend of a famous footballer. Her close friendship with Essien got people to draw the conclusion that the two were an item. But not so, she insists.
“I call him, he calls me, we crack jokes together but when people say he's my boy then they're blocking my chances.”
But, that certainly has not blocked her chances with Essien's pal, Gyan.
Last month The Saturday Statesman hinted that Irene could be dating Essien. Irene, who went to London for a week in January, told Essien about that publication. “Essien said we just have to be careful. He's used to that sort of thing. But, really, he's just a friend,” said she.
When running for Miss Ghana, the brochure 'quoted' Irene as saying: “I believe in hard work and pursuing my goals,” but this was before she first met the goal scorer at Yegoala Night Club in July. One of her goals, she added, “is to win Miss Ghana and use the platform to raise the image of the African Woman.”
When she was asked yesterday what she has done since then to enhance the African woman's image her response was frank: “I only wrote that because they said they needed to put something in the magazine. I didn't really mean it.”
But, she was not done yet: “I want the African woman to know that we should utilise our beauty but to also attach it with brains. I see myself as a role model. A lot of people want to be like me. And, as the saying goes, 'to whom much is given, much is expected',” she stated philosophically.
She admits she has used her rather shortened period as Miss Ghana to “have fun,” and do some charity work, too. She has raised ¢20 million for the Dan Boscoe home for the disadavantaged at Ashiaman, near Tema.
She has provided two boxes of school uniforms for a deprived village in the Central Region, Mpuano, where there's only one room serving as classrooms for Class 1 and 2 pupils.
She has promised to help them raise funds to build a 3-classroom block. Though, not much has been achieved on that end, she says she has not given up, focusing now instead on the things to equip the building with once it is completed, like a blackboard.
Yesterday, it was reported that Udinese forward Asamoah Gyan's planned move to Lokomotiv had fallen through. It was reported last month that the club had signed the striker on a four-year contract, for a reported nine million euros ($11.66 million) fee, the fourth largest in Russian soccer history.
Irene, a Mathematics and Statistics undergraduate student at the University of Cape Coast, says she likes to shop but prefers to let her stylist, Kwame Samson of Acorn Plus, Cape Coast, do the shopping for her “because he knows I wouldn't shop right and he knows what looks good on me.”
She has been wearing ATL-designed fabrics and says wearing African style is her way of telling the youth to be proud of their culture.
But, she has not been too successful with some of her projects, such as a TV programme, Twinkling Stars, which did not go beyond the pilot stage due to lack of sponsorship.
“I have an interest in it and I know I can do it well if I get enough sponsorship,” she said of the science programme pencilled in for GTV at 3pm on Thursday.
On March 2 she will hand over her crown to Miss [email protected], although she gets to keep the green Rover saloon and all the advantages that came with the title.
Her Valentine's Day message is this: “It's a great day that people should get in touch with friends, but not necessarily having sex with them. It's not about sex, but sharing love, kindness and sympathy.”