By Sam Banda Jnr & Patience Lunda:
The last time the country had Miss Malawi pageant was in 2018. Tiwonge Munthali won the contest that time the queen never had the chance of representing the country at the Miss World.
Such is the lack of vibrancy for the national beauty pageant today, an exercise which used to enjoy limelight and contributed immensely in marketing the country to the world.
Started in the 1970s, the national beauty pageant has gone through good time and bad times including suspensions and outright absence.
In the years it has been running, it has seen several queens walk its corridors, marketing the country to the world. Some of the queens it has made include Elizabeth Pullu, who went to Miss World in 2001, Mable Pullu, Florence Zeka, Joyce Mphande, Faith Chibale, Susan Mtegha and Cecilia Khofi.
It is because of the importance of the Miss Malawi office that recently former Miss Malawi 1978, Martha Chimpozo Kamanga, asked the government to commit resources to promote beauty pageants and fashion shows, observing that this would help the country to be visible on the international stage.
Kamanga said pageants and fashion shows are not making progress in the country because they are not being supported.
“During the time of former President Hastings Kamuzu Banda we were being motivated to take part in such beauty pageants including the main one which is Miss Malawi because the government would reward those that would win and so it put the country on the map,” the former queen says.
Kamanga says there was need to give life to the Miss Malawi and bring it back to where it was.
“There are others who are trying their best but they need support for them to execute it well and this is where the government and the corporate world has to step in,” she says.
After its revival in 2001, Carver Bhima called the shots before engaging other companies. Later Nation Publications Limited and Zodiak Broadcasting Stations came in to manage the event.
Today, Alpha Arts has been licensed to run Miss Malawi 2022 whose grand finale will be held on December 3 at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
The 2019 Malawi News Model of the Year Tina Kendricks, who is part of Alpha Arts, says they are happy to bring back Miss Malawi.
“We are running Miss Malawi not by chance but we are here to build it. This is the office that is important in terms of selling the country to the world and we hope to offer more this year,” Kendricks says.
The beauty pageant is now getting to its climax with the organisers releasing the top 12.
“The top 12 will later this month go for a boot camp after which 10 will be shortlisted for the crown,” she says.
“It has been a long journey which started with registration in the three regions before we shortlisted the top 30 and now, we have moved to top 12. Then we will have top 10 from which we will get the queen,” Kendricks says.
According to Kendricks, resources permitting, Alpha Arts want Miss Malawi to participate at the Miss World, the oldest existing international beauty pageant.
The Miss World was created in the United Kingdom by Eric Morley in 1951 and since his death in 2000, Morley’s widow, Julia Morley, has co-chaired the pageant. A l o n g with Miss Universe, M i s s International, and Miss Earth, it is one of the big four international beauty pageants.
The current Miss World is Karolina Bielawska of Poland, who was crowned by Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica on March 16, 2022, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is the second contestant from Poland to win Miss World.
Kendricks says the 2022 Miss Malawi is themed ‘Unleash Your True self’.
She however bemoans lack of sponsorship towards the beauty pageant.
“Miss Malawi is a big name but at the moment I should be frank that having sent proposals to different companies we have got no support. The reason might be that the pageant has been out for four years,” she says.
But despite not getting support for now, the organisers are pushing on their own while hoping to get sponsors along the way before the main event.
“We know things are not going well in terms of the economy but we have seen companies supporting other areas such as music which are equally important but they can also come in and support Miss Malawi beauty pageant,” she says.
Kendricks maintains that beauty pageants are there not only for entertainment but they help in bringing about change.
“People associate beauty pageants with a lot of negative things and at times even label participants as those with ‘loose’ morals but that is wrong. Beauty pageants actually change people’s lives. I for one I have been a beauty queen before and my participation has helped shape me to who I am today,” she says.
Kendricks says through this year’s Miss Malawi, they want to change people’s mindsets on how they look at beauty pageants.
“We want to help these contestants to find jobs because most of those who were selected are graduates in different disciplines. Let me also take this opportunity to call upon parents out there to open up and allow their children to participate in pageants,” she says.
She says they will work hand in hand with the government through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife.
“We do not want to work in isolation because this is the Miss Malawi office. We want to work with the government through our line ministry. The Miss Malawi office is crucial in uplifting tourism,” Kendricks says.
Recently during the crowning of Miss Culture Malawi, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife Michael Usi, called upon beauty pageants in the country to be serious with their events as well as connect with them for proper coordination.
The minister welcomed Alpha Arts’ gesture describing Miss Malawi office as a national pride.
“We are happy when we have such events but we want them to be done better,” Usi said.