Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Reporter
Did Kiki Divaris die with local pageantry?
The affable Kiki ran the Miss World Zimbabwe pageant for more than a decade before handing over to other “hands.”
Such was the high standard set by the diva that no one seems to have managed to emulate her high standards and hard work.
The Miss Zimbabwe title was one of the most sought after crowns by any aspiring model. It was also a must attend event for socialites.
While the glitz and glamour may not have matched that of other richer countries, it nevertheless created a buzz in the week leading to the crowning of the queen.
During Kiki’s reign at the helm of the Miss Zimbabwe Trust, the national pageant was on the people’s lips and the modelling industry was a force to reckon with.
It created employment for service providers who included models, beauticians, choreographers and other stakeholders.
It is not only the Miss Zimbabwe pageantry which got lost along the way, but also Miss Universe Zimbabwe, Supermodel, Top Model and M-Net Face of Africa brands, among others.
These events used to attract sponsorship and attention from international scouts.
Who can forget Angeline Musasiwa, Brita Maselethulini and Shirley Nyanyiwa from the years gone by?
So what really went wrong? Where did the glitz and glamour of local national beauty pageants and modelling contests go?
Why do beauty pageants seem to be in comatose and headed for the cemetery?
The last Miss World Zimbabwe has been clinging to the crown for almost two years and some have said that the industry is in dire straits.
To date, Belinda Potts, now 23, is the reigning Miss World Zimbabwe, last crowned in 2018.
Others have said, in fact, she is a beauty queen without a crown because she has not enjoyed any “royalty” or good life expected of a queen.
If she walks in the streets now, no-one recognises her, unless she moves with her sash and jewelled crown which have stayed long in her closet.
Somewhere and somehow, we are all to blame in pushing for this goal as we do not take it seriously.
What have we done to help Potts do charity work, boost her funding or maybe she is on the other hand myopic?
In countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia and even Zambia, which is not far from home, they are so proud of their beauty queens to the extent of giving them jobs, endorsements, advertisements and go-funding, among other activities, so that she fulfils her mission work.
But in Zimbabwe she only shines the day she is crowned.
For yesteryear national pageants, the event was glamorous, with the queen being treated like a national treasure.
Think of Musasiwa, who made the nation proud at the Miss World finals in 1994 or Masalethulini (Miss Malaika 2001), Oslie Muringai (Miss Zimbabwe 2004), Lorraine Maphala (Miss Zimbabwe 2005) and Samantha Tshuma (Miss Tourism Zimbabwe 2010), among others.
Without doubt, the state of the economy might have affected the industry, with the corporate world sceptical to support it.
But it seems the pageant organisers themselves have also contributed to the demise of the industry.
Several organisers have been sucked into allegations of abusing funds from well-wishers and the corporate world, and this destroyed confidence from potential partners and models.
The models too have lost charisma and lack discipline.
Of late, newspapers have been awash with screening headlines of beauty queens’ leaked nude pictures and it appears there has been a collective contribution from all players to destroy the industry — whether intentional or coincidental.
Secondly, Marry Mubaiwa has tried to revive the pageantry and invested a lot of money, but no one knows why the pageant has not been held.
Could it be because of the behaviour exhibited by some of the models that killed her spirit.
Is it that social media has killed the pageant? There were reports of models skipping boot camp for binge drinking and all social ills.
This is because of lack of proper regulation for the modelling industry and sprouting of unregistered modelling agencies. This has a ripple effect on the lack of decorum and grooming of models.
Some young ladies of loose morals masquerading as models have invaded the industry, thereby giving sex pests a conducive environment to abuse innocent and bona fide models in the process.
Something, some people might not know, we have the chance and capabilities to bring the Miss World crown home. There are a lot of beautiful girls in Zimbabwe, not only in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas.
But with the current situation, some aspiring models are scared of entering the pageants as they seem to have lost hope in the industry.
Renowned modelling agency owners like Mercy Mushaninga, Sipho Mazibuko and Wilbert Rukato must join hands and approach relevant authorities to revive the industry.
Modelling is a big industry in countries like South Africa where models actually get endorsements for big commercials, but the local scenario is different. There is no doubt that the local modelling industry is on the verge of extinction.
Again, the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, but currently some countries have already started doing their auditions virtually, because who knows, what if the Miss World is hosted virtually.
And Zimbabwe will be absent again.
A close source in the Miss World Zimbabwe camp who refused to be named said: “Last year, it was to do with funding and this year we have been affected by the global pandemic. How then do we get out of that? We should not shift the blame game”.
Zim Gossip Models agency founder member Mushaninga said people should avoid mixing modelling with politics or religion since it stands on its own.
“I think the license should be given to people who are capable of delivering,” she said. “It is a sad story and the truth is that models have expiry dates in pageantry. Models should join agencies and have a chance of participating in other modelling categories.”
Rukato, the deputy president of the Modeling Industry Association of Zimbabwe, said the modelling industry, particularly in the sub-section of pageantry, has in the past couple of years been super dry, if not downright extinct.
“It is well known that Miss Tourism Zimbabwe failed to take place most probably due to the accident that happened during the boot camp and Miss World Zimbabwe didn’t happen for a host of reasons and consequently we began to see the emergence of quasi-flagship pageants vying for the models’ attention, but with minimal success in terms of landing the flagship status title,” he said.
“What is needed is for the organisers of our traditional flagship pageants to employ an inclusive approach, something we have been crying out for a while now, that is rope in all of us still practicing and we all come up with a collective plan that will promote the national agenda,.
“So, as modelling agencies and the industry as a whole, we have begun to explore other avenues of promoting the industry such as online training, marketing our models on social media and approaching international pageants directly for our models to participate in. There is a lot of hope for our industry.”