Miss Malawi second princess Jacqueline Chinkwita Phiri will represent the country at the Miss University Africa (MUA) finals slated for Saturday in Benin City, Nigeria.
The 20-year-old is a third year bio-medical sciences student at the Mzuzu University. She is currently in Nigeria for a two-week boot camp ahead of the glamorous event, starring beauties from 46 out of 54 African countries.
Phiri said she was motivated to represent the country because she is a â€œbeauty with a purposeâ€ and wants to be the reflection of Africaâ€™s fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals.
â€œI want to improve, empower and represent Malawi and Africa. My priority is reducing epidemic diseases as well as maternal death,â€ she said.
In an e-mail, MUA executive secretary Sarah Okafor said Phiri was identified by a local fashion and modelling firm called Theophilus Fashions.
â€œWe have directors in most African countries that have applied for our franchise to represent us and organise national pageants in their various countries leading up to the international finals. As a result, the overall winner represents her country at the international eventâ€, explained Okafor.
Theophilus Fashions proprietor Angella Faith Lapukeni, who first represented the country at last yearâ€™s pageant, said Chinkwita Phiri was among students who filled a form designed for the purpose.
â€œEarlier in the year, we planned to hold an event to select the countryâ€™s representative, but it did not happen due to several circumstances, including postponements of the finale. We, therefore, circulated a form. Not many showed interest,â€ said Lapukeni.
The shoddy selection and screening process brings to mind sorry events of her run last year. Having been haphazardly selected, Lapukeni appeared at the continental showcase in borrowed clothes as her agents failed to provide a wardrobe.
She added: â€œWe will hold the selection event for the next representative.â€Â
According to Okafor, the boot camp grooms the contestants on etiquette, catwalk and series of empowerment workshop.
She said the non-bikini pageant provides the winner with a platform, through the MUA Foundation, to discuss issues of social importance, find lasting solutions and reaches out to the less privileged on the continent.
â€œThe winner becomes an ambassador for African students and youths, raises awareness for improving the lives of African students and reaches out to the less privileged,â€ said Okafor, addingÂ a $100 000 (K26.5 million) charity package awaits the winner.
Â About $10 000 acts as a pocket money and allowance for the queen, while all travel,Â board and lodge costs are MUAâ€™s responsibility.
MUA celebrates beauties with brains, discourage indecent dressing among African youths and discover the innate potentials of students while mirroring tourism and culture.