Saturday last week was a day like no other in Ireland. This was the day when beauty from Malawi left Irish hearts melting during the first ever Miss Malawi Ireland beauty pageant. Peter Makossah was there and, although he too felt his head swirling in the face of the blinding beauty on show, was able to recover in time to share his memories of the event.
The atmosphere was mind-blowing and the night full of pomp, glitz and glamour, but was what happened at Clarion Hotel in the Irish capital city, Dublin, a coincidence or was it written in the stars by a streak of providence?
That is the question.
The inaugural Miss Malawi Ireland beauty pageant 2012, was held last weekend and was graced by a special performance by Malawiâ€™s celebrated music bigwig, Lucius Banda, who was also belting out his soul-soothing compositions on the Irish soil for the first time.
Soldier, as Lucius is fondly called, a gem of a show for both the contestants and patrons to the event. Was it a fairytale or just a happenstance?
Was it a twist of fate that the Balaka-based and lyrist was mimicking his tunes through a CD as he travelled to Dublin without his Zembani lieutenants and chose his old school hit song Tina as the theme song of the night?
And was it a coincidence that a panel of specialist judges on the colourful coronation night chose a contestant named Tina as the Queen of Miss Malawi Ireland 2012?
Coincidence, it is said, is the word we use when we canâ€™t see the levers and pulleys and that was the experience for Malawians living in Ireland last week Saturday when they witnessed a new wave of pleasure that was beyond comprehension.
Lucius didnâ€™t disappoint with his old classic hit song Tina. When Soldier began to sing Tina, the hall was set on fire as patrons fervently went into an emotional whirl joining him in singing along deafeningly: â€œWakusalala, Wakusalala Tina!â€
Another love and soul-soothing tune, Zakukhosi, a love theme song, also drove the audience crackers.
It appears that in every individual decision that contestants took it was nothing but coincidence and in every artistic decision that Lucius took in choosing his songs for the show it was coincidence.
Coincidentally, after the eight contestants had strutted off their stuff, the panel of judges unanimously settled for 21-year-old Tina Maunde who, like her namesake character in Luciusâ€™ Tina, is beauty itself.
Born in the warm Heart of Africa, Tina, who is popularly known as â€˜Wakusalala Tinaâ€™ among her peers, took home 1 000 Euros after beating seven other contestants in the shape of Bettina Constance Chimwaza, Nsiidwa Kambauwa, Denise Anthony, Atupele Mondiwa, Evelyn Suwedi Memory Nyambo, Akuli Offley and Prema Tewesa.
During the event, which was also spiced up with a sizzling performance by Ireland-based Malawian hip hop music maestro Pop Dogg, Bettina Chimwaza was crowned first princess while Nsiidwa Kambauwa was chosen second princess.
The Miss Personality accolade went to Denise Anthony.
The contestants dazzled the audience with a startling display on the catwalk as they paraded in a Malawian traditional wear, evening attire and the popular and well-liked swim wear.
But it was not all about splendour and grandeur, catwalks, lipsticks, stunning hairdos or sparkly crowns and trendy outfits that counted on the pageant coronation night as the contenders were put to a tough test on creativity and a check on knowledge in their brain boxes.
Speaking at the event, Lucius commended the organisers for putting up a good show, saying the pageant was well organised, describing it as of international calibre.
â€œIâ€™m so pleased with everything. Right from the day I arrived in Dublin, everything seemed to be in place right through to the day of the event. It was so nice despite playing my music on a CDs rather than the traditional band set-up, everything went on so well,â€ said Lucius, who has 16 albums under his belt and has played in many in European countries such as England, Scotland and Germany and various African countries in a career spanning more than two decades.
Lucius said he was thrilled to see that he has a big fan base in Ireland.
â€œTo be honest, I was ecstatic. I never expected such a heroâ€™s welcome and a large fan base in the Republic of Ireland. There were many people who came to see me performing not only Malawians but even the Irish, English, German and Scottish nationals. I am grateful for the support I received. It was great,â€ he said.Â
Notable faces in the audiences included German government officials from the International Affairs Department, Tobias Hanchenberg and Daniel Dank who support development projects in Malawi.
â€œWe came because we love Malawi. It was nice seeing Lucius Banda on stage. Heâ€™s no doubt one of Africaâ€™s greatest musicians. It was historic to be with him off stage,â€ said Dank.
Asked if the song Tina influenced the choice of Tina as winner of the crown, Lucius said it was just a coincidence because when choosing the songs for the show, the idea was purely the artistic messages in them, emphasising that he did not know the names of the contestants.
â€œI learnt on the same night that two of the winning competitors had connection to the songs that were played during the gala night,â€ he said.
One Patron, Ann Ndovi, who travelled about 160 miles to the event from Cork to Dublin for the event, said it was a great show, saying seeing Lucius singing rekindled her sweet memories of Malawi.
â€œIt was superb and we had fun. It was nice that the event brought all Malawians together and seeing Soldier on stage and thereafter joining him on the red carpet for pictures was something we all cherished. The event was well organised and I hope this is just the beginning for the best things to come from the Malawian community in Ireland,â€ said Ndovi.Â Â
Maunde, a second year business studies and marketing student, said winning the crown is a great honour and accomplishment.
Said Maunde: â€œIâ€™m proud to be given this opportunity to act as an ambassador for Malawi. Iâ€™ll use my position to support certain charities in Malawi in activities that will benefit Malawians back home. Also, Iâ€™ll endeavour to portray a good image for Mother Malawi in order to attract both tourists and investors.â€
Maunde first took interest in modelling at a tender age but only became active in recent years and contested in Miss Tourism Malawi 2010 where she was crowned first princess.
â€œIâ€™ll use my position to influence and advocate for education for all kids. As a beauty queen, I hope to inspire aspiring young Malawian girls to take up modelling seriously, because it helps to build oneâ€™s self-confidence,â€ she said.