It is not an easy feat to rule the African continent especially where your country is rated smaller in a lot of areas and on top of that among the poorest.
But although poor and its people struggling , Malawi the Warm Heart of Africa has risen to the occasion to show the best of its capabilities in different disciplines, with art being one of them.
Malawi is ruling the African continent for now following the crowning of 23-year old Chimwemwe Kamkwamba as Miss Deaf Africa 2019.
For Kamkwamba, it was a matter of hard work, perseverance and patience as having lost out on the crown last year, she never gave up and let alone lose hope – she tried again this year and boom! She got the crown.
According to Nation newspaper in Seychelles where the event took place last weekend, Kamkwamba was crowned Miss Deaf Africa while 18-year-old Darlene Lucile, Miss Deaf Mauritius, is Miss Deaf Indian Ocean.
Attended by an impressive audience from all walks of life, this was the eighth edition of the contest.
The Nation in Seychelles reported that Miss Deaf Mauritius, apart from winning the crown for Miss Deaf Indian Ocean, also clinched the crown for First princess while Miss Deaf Zimbabwe, 19-year-old Takudzwa Phiri, clinched the Second princess title.
Miss Personality went to Miss Deaf Mozambique, Tania Maciel, while Miss Photogenic went to Miss Deaf Reunion, Oceane Dorval.
Eliza Mundine, Miss Deaf Mozambique 2018 and the outgoing Miss Deaf Africa, crowned the new Miss Deaf Africa.
The winners won prize money ranging between 500 Euros and 800 as well as return tickets to Seychelles.
Organised by the Association for People with Hearing Impairment (Aphi) in collaboration with Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort and other partners, the deaf beauty pageant aims to empower young deaf women in the continent to be confident and good role models for other young deaf women as well as a driving force each in their own way to make positive changes in their respective countries.
According to The Nation, the contestants visited several historical places and institutions, went sight-seeing on boat outings and visited the Victoria market among other places.
The contestants paraded in different outfits and performed a traditional piece from their respective countries and put on traditional attires from their respective countries.
During the event, a deaf artist, Channel Alphonse, is also said to have presented to each of the contestants with a tanmi flower which he had designed and crafted.
Miss Deaf Indian Ocean speaking through an interpreter, told The Nation in Seychelles that she was happy to have got the crown.
“I am really happy and proud to have won the two titles. I don’t have words to describe how I am feeling. I am going to intensify the work I am already doing with the deaf association back in Mauritius,” Lucile said.
She said a lot was being done to support deaf people but was quick to say that there were gaps that needed to be filled.
Kamkwamba, who now rules Africa and has put Malawi on the map, told The Nation in Seychelles after the event that she was looking forward to doing more having won the crown.
“With the crown, I am really looking forward to doing many more things to help and support other deaf people especially the younger ones. My main objective is to give them the confidence, the courage and the support they need to stand up and be whoever they want to be and do the things they want,” Kamkwamba said.
She underlined the fact that being deaf does not mean that one has no potential.
Anita Gardner, Chairperson of Aphi and Co-ordinator of the event, said without the loyal sponsors and the support of the public and families and friends of the contestants the pageant would not have been a success.
She described the contest as tough and that all the contestants put up great performances.
“They all came with the objective of winning and they tried hard to prove themselves,” Gardner said.
She said that Aphi was looking forward to working with the winning contestants to further advance the cause of deaf people and focus on empowering them.
Meanwhile, Kamkwamba was given a warm welcome on her arrival at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre on Wednesday.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Navicha, led some government officials, family members and other Malawians in welcoming Kamkwamba, who was given VIP treatment.
Kamkwamba shed tears of joy at the sight of the minister, her mother and other officials welcoming her.
Navicha said she was glad that Kamkwamba has demonstrated that people with disabilities can do wonders if supported.
“What we need to do is to level the playing field and remove barriers that hinder people with disabilities from progressing,” the minister said.
She added: “Kamkwamba has done us proud and we are hopeful that she will now champion matters to do with people with disabilities.”
Kamkwamba urged people with disabilities not to look down upon themselves.
“I was very sad after failing to make it last year. Now I am happy that I have opened doors for people with disabilities not only in the country but Africa at large. People who have different forms of disabilities should not underrate themselves but go for what they do best,” the beauty queen said.
Kamkwamba, who did her secondary education at Kamuzu Academy and is currently in her third year pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration majoring in Supply Chain and Logistics Management at Columbia Commonwealth University, said the crown she has got has so much power and that she was feeling the weight when she wears it.
“I think the courage to participate came after I saw that, I have a small body although short, I got the smile and the confidence and my friends encouraged me,” she said.
Mal awi Nat iona l Association for the Deaf (Manad) Executive Director, Byson Chimenya, said they w e r e pleased with Kamkwamba’s achievement and hailed those who supported her in her cause.
“We identified Chimwemwe at national level to participate at the event. It has been our wish to hold the event at local level but we have been unable to do so due to financial constraints,” Chimenya said. He said they first participated at the Miss Deaf in South Africa in 2016 where they were represented by Tione Kalua from Mzuzu and then in Seychelles last year with Kamkwamba before finally grabbing the crown this year.
“Well-wishers and the corporate world should support us and emulate what Malawi Gaming Board did,” he said.
Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) provided return air ticket and pocket money to Kamkwamba.
MGB Director of Social Projects, Ted Nandolo, said they are happy that Kamkwamba has proved that with proper support people with different disabilities can do the country proud.