After five solid years of no-contest, glamour and glitz characterised a bouncy return of the country’s supreme beauty pageant, Miss Malawi, last Friday in Lilongwe.
The spectacular event saw the Blantyre-based 23-year-old Cecilia Khofi being crowned the queen of the re-branded competition, which seeks to arrest the country’s overpopulation.
Nthanda Manduwi (21) and Yvonne Kamanga (24) were crowned first and second princesses, respectively.
In separate interviews, the winners said they were set to work with different partners to manage the country’s growing population, which is getting out of hand every second.
They also hailed the organisers, Nation Publications Limited (NPL) and Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), for running the 2016/17 project professionally.
The new Malawi queen, who went away with a Nissan Tiida as a grand prize, described the return of Miss Malawi as a new lease of life to most inspiring models.
“First and foremost, the coming in of NPL and ZBS to revive the contest has stimulated hope and instilled confidence among inspiring beauty models in the country. It always gives hope when such a national event is being managed by credible organisations like NPL and ZBS
“As a new face of the fight against overpopulation in the country, I will work to my best capability,” said Khofi.
She was, however, quick to point out that her office needs support from individuals and companies to fulfil its mandate.
“Arresting population is not a one-man show but collaborative work coupled with resources. So, everyone should be involved in this noble cause,” she said.
On her part, Manduwa said the organisers of Miss Malawi did their groundwork well before the event, hence the colourful ending.
According to Miss Malawi chairperson Albert Banda, the organisers undertook a research to come up with a vibrant contest, which strives to bring the lost glory of Miss Malawi office and protect the reputation of contestants in the country.
Among other key procedures, they carried out regional contests to scout potential models for the grand pageant.
Another unique aspect about the re-branded Miss Malawi is the academic excellence on the part of contestants which saw them articulating issues throughout the contest starting from the regional level to the grand finals. And all the three finalists for the office of Miss Malawi are holders of university degrees, which is a plus to their work ahead.
For example, Khofi holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, obtained from Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi. Currently, she is working with the Ministry of Health apart from being a human rights activist who works with a number of organisations in the country.
Manduwi holds a degree in Social Sciences (double majoring in economics and demography) from the Chancellor College. She is also an activist and entrepreneur.
On the other hand, Kamanga holds a Master’s Degree in Animal Science obtained from the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar). She is also an entrepreneur who is currently establishing a livestock consultancy firm.
However, since the winners of this year’s Miss Malawi were announced, there has been a heated debate on social media about the selection criteria. Some quarters feel the contest put much emphasis on academic achievements, sideling beauty, which they say is the core value of a beauty pageant.
But organisers defended the re-branded pageant, saying they were looking for both beauty and brains. They said looking at the nature of the work the office of Miss Malawi will be handling, they needed someone who will be able to articulate issues of population and be able to network at different levels.
“We must appreciate that the beauty pageant is taking a new dimension in the country. In our case, we wanted someone who will be able to articulate issues pertaining to population; hence, the aspects of academic achievements and brains,” said Banda.
The theme of the re-branded Miss Malawi was Managing Overpopulation, a task which organisers feel needs someone who is passionate and conversant with issues of population to effectively contribute to the fight against overpopulation. n