Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Reporter
There is no doubt that 2019 was a really bad year in our local modelling industry.
Should we agree that we have failed the pageant industry or there is more that should be done?
A few years ago, Zimbabwe was well-known, not only as a tourist destination, but also for producing modelling pageants.
Local beauties stood out at regional and international platforms. Remember names such as Brita Maselethulini who not only scooped the Miss Zimbabwe title, but also won the first ever Miss Malaika pageant; Angeline Musasiwa who was in top five at the Miss World; and Malaika Mushandu, who made it in top 10 at the Miss Top Model World.
What has happened to our modelling industry? Should we say the pageant industry died with the late Kiki Divaris?
For two years now, Zimbabwe has been absent from major pageants such as Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss Tourism World. This then affects the industry to an extent that models lose confidence in the career.
Pageants from cities like Harare, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare are fewer these days.
It is now mainly about auditions where provincial representatives are selected. The glamour and glitz is gone.
Also because of the controversy that has been associated with some pageants, most girls now fear to take part in the pageants resulting the country having average girls qualifying for the grand finale and we end up laughing at ourselves.
Last year’s winner for Miss Tourism Zimbabwe Tafadzwa Jaricha could not take part at the world level because the organisers believed she was not ready for the international stage. They said she needed time for preparations. So what are they being taught in boot camps where they gather for weeks?
Our girls do not even make it to some of the easy steps like project or talent competitions. They are good, but they require our votes. Very few Zimbabweans vote for the models on the platforms provided.
This year the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe was scheduled to take place in Nyanga and unfortunately, the pageant was postponed at the 11th hour after the girls were involved in a bus accident. We thank God there were no serious injuries.
This then means that Zimbabwe was absent at the Miss World and Miss Tourism World pageant this year.
Next year should be a different story as pageant license holders should start preparing now, involve responsible authorities and engage corporates so that we return the glory of yesteryear.
The silver lining came with pageants like Miss Pan-Africa queen where we managed to clinch the coveted title and Pauline Marere is the reigning queen of Africa. Unfortunately, she is not much celebrated because we do not take the industry seriously. That is how we tend to loose grip and focus. Look at how other countries celebrate their winners.
Another sad story was of our model Miss Deaf Zim, Takudzwa Phiri, who was stranded in Seychelles after winning second princess place at the Miss Deaf Africa.
Again some close sources revealed that Miss Albino Zimbabwe girl failed to participate at the Miss Albino World.
All this is owed to lack of support and financial constraints. It needs everyone to participate so that the we return the glory days again.
On to the international scene, South African model Zozibini Tunzi who won the Miss Universe 2019, with her natural hairstyle which she said made her unique has gone viral with most models now donning it.
Miss World 2019 went to Jamaica with Toni-Ann Singh getting the crown.
The first Zimbabwean and black woman to win Miss London is Vimbai Chapungu and she, too did not get the deserved recognition. This then affects the new crop of models because they see that it is just a hobby rather a career like what other African and European countries do.
For the male modelling share, they are also complaining that the sector is not taken seriously and is littered with stereotypes. This means there should be empowerment workshops to educate the minds of the nation and corporates at large so that they can be involved in the industry.
Commercial modelling pays in foreign countries as seen on advertisements that we adore much. We pray and hope next year, our models, promoters and agencies can take a leaf next door and change the face of modelling.