She is a hairstylist, fashion model. Now, deaf advocate Chimwemwe Kamkwamba has been chosen to represent Malawi at the Miss Deaf Africa 2017 contest in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
For the first time since the competition was established in 2012, the young women will strutt their stuff on the catwalk outside South Africa and it will be held from December 4 with the final do on December 9, according to organisers.
Kamkwamba’s participation comes after Mzuzu-based Tione Kalua last year came sixth in a contest of 18 participants.
For the 27-year-old Kamkwamba, her participation called for joy and happiness.
“It is an important event. It will not only help me and the deaf in Malawi, but also people with other disabilities. I do wish companies will come up to help me travel to Namibia,” she said.
The contest founder, Maria Sivertsen, said the competition aims at giving deaf women in Africa a chance to come together and learn from each other’s cultures. She further said winning provides a chance for the winner to go back home and provide deaf awareness using her title.
“They also make the people in her country aware of sign language. In South Africa, we have come a long way. Our government did a lot to enhance deafness in the country,” she said.
According to her, at times would-be contestants fail to make it for lack of transport, as the organisers only provide meals and accommodation, coupled with hair and nail courses, coupled with fun outings. Visa and transportation issues have to be sorted by the contestants.
Malawi National Association for the Deaf (Manad) executive director Byson Chimenya said in an interview Kamkwamba may fail to make it to the contest if well-wishers do not come in.
“She needs an air ticket and some upkeep money. She was chosen because of her personality, talent and intelligence. Her participation will put Malawi on the map as her winning will make her a deaf ambassador who will help deaf girls build their confidence about the deaf culture,” said Chimenya.
According to him, Kamkwamba needs K465 000 for her return ticket and K150 000 for upkeep.
According to Sivertsen prizes include education opportunities in South Africa, citing some past winners who enrolled for a course at the National Institute for the Deaf. n