The return of the Miss Malawi beauty pageant promises three things: glamour, of course beauty, and brains.
On Saturday, as the search for the beauty queen started with auditions at Sunbird Mzuzu, slender girls took turns to strut the red carpet runway in tight fittings, evening gown and cultural wear to convince the judges of their potential for the crown.
In total, five girls, including former Miss Mzuzu University (Mzuni) Tadala Mlopa, 20 and Mzuzu’s queen Miss O’Seasons Yewo Gondwe, 19, participated for the contest which last took place in 2012.
The judges settled for Gondwe, Miwasy Nyirenda, 23, Esther Chiviya, 24 and Mlopa to go into the next round of the competition as Alicia Banda from Nkhata Bay was disqualified for failing to meet some of the requirements.
By 9am, the doors to glory were opened in the hotel’s Njenjewe Room. Tables and chairs were set. High definition cameras were mounted, ready to put on record every detail of the country’s highest beauty pageant as the judges—former Miss Malawi Blandina Mlenga Khondowe, event organiser Tadala Chihana and marketer Wilkins Mijiga—looked determined to motivate, mentor and groom the raw talent into a super queen.
A chilly weather coupled with rain showers threatened the event. However, the participants proved beyond doubt their determination for the crown as they braved the biting weather to show up for the first leg of the auditions.
And, things could not be better than learning that the first participant to audition, Gondwe, travelled all the way from Lilongwe, to compete in a city she won the Miss O’Seasons crown that was meant to choose an ambassador for arts and entertainment in Mzuzu.
The University of Livingstonia (Unilia) student, who is awaiting graduation this August, confidently strut the runway before she introduced herself.
And when the judges took turns to interrogate the aspiring queen, it turned out that the Miss Malawi beauty pageant is more than modelling and not just a mere search for beautiful girls. It is a scout for beauty as well as the brains that would gracefully carry the office of Miss Malawi at local and international platforms.
Perhaps, that is why media houses Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), managers of the pageant, decided to hold the event under the theme Over Population to test participants’ understanding of the burden of rapid population growth and if at all they can offer viable solutions to the problem.
Interestingly, some of the contestants showed an understanding of the issue at hand as they called on government to upscale the increase of contraceptives and put up policies or strong measures to limit the number of children per woman.
Above all, Chiviya said government needs to address the root cause of overpopulation which, she said, is due to early marriages.
“Girls are in forced marriages at an early age. As a result, they end up having more children than required because they have long child bearing period. We need to encourage girls to remain in school to limit their child bearing period,” said the Construction Studies student at Mzuzu Technical College.
In their postmortem, judges and organisers of the event were satisfied with the outcome of the auditions as the 2002 Miss Malawi said there is “a lot of potential” in the North.
“We need to understand that this is raw talent. So, it’s up to us to motivate, groom and mentor them into the queen we want.
“It’s not easy to speak in front of camera for the first time, but with time they will improve,” said Khondowe, who was crowned Miss Malawi at 21.
The search now goes to Lilongwe on July 30 for the Central Region auditions and Blantyre on August 28 for the Southern Region.
Regional finals are scheduled for November 5 for the North, December 3 for the Centre and January 28 for the South.