At first, it was nine models expressing interest to contest for the Miss Malawi beauty pageant in the Northern Region. As the clock ticked towards the regional finals last Saturday, three pulled out.
The remaining six took to the catwalk full of confidence at a capacity-filled Grand Palace Hotel auditorium without a rough idea of how many contestants would be picked from the Northern Region flag to the national finals on April 29 next year.
But the judges—comprising marketer Wilkins Mijiga, event organisers Tadala Chihana and Zikani Nyirenda, sitting in for former Miss Malawi Blandina Khondowe—settled for the three who punched above the mark in confidence, grace, poise, delivery of speech, form, figure and posture.
These are Lilongwe Technical College journalism student Tadala Uta, Mzuzu University student Miwasy Nyirenda and entrepreneur Vanessa Mtegha.
They outclassed Mzuzu Technical College student Esther Chiviya, University of Livingstonia graduate Yewo Gondwe and Phwezi Technical College student Sally Nyirenda.
It was a moment of mixed feelings when Chihana announced the winners on behalf of fellow judges, including Zikani Nyirenda.
Sections of the auditorium went into jubilations and cheers without an idea that backstage some aspirants were left in tears.
That in itself tells just how tight the contest was as spokesperson for the event Teresa Ndanga admits that they “expected a stiff competition and that’s what we have experienced today”.
“The girls were on point on dressing, parade and their response to questions,” she said.
Chihana said the competition was tight and it was difficult for the judges to arrive at the three.
“The girls took an initiative to research on the theme and most of them were even giving us statistics. So, they have all it takes to be an ambassador for the country on issues of population,” said Chihana.
She advised the winners not to relax as the going will be getting tougher with the contest moving to other cities for the regional finals.
The participants, dressed by House of Towera and Judy Fashions, paraded in traditional swim wear, traditional clothing, casual wear, evening wear and office wear much to the excitement of the patrons.
There was literally no dull moment as the contestants strut the catwalk in anticipation to convince the judges who have the task to select 15 finalists from the 34 models registered countrywide.
However, what stunned the organisers—leading media houses Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS)—was the response the event attracted in Mzuzu city.
On this night, Mzuzu proved wrong the ‘doubting Thomases’ as patronage was massive such that almost all seats in the auditorium were taken up which forced a good number of patrons to follow the proceedings while standing.
Said Ndanga: “We have just proved wrong the perception that people have that the Northern Region does not patronise these events. The turnout was huge and massive. We started at 8pm, but by 6.30pm the patrons had already arrived.”
The winners expressed happiness for the honour to represent the region, promising to give their best in the national finals.
Other regional finals will be held on December 3 in Lilongwe and January 28 in Blantyre. n