WITH a name like Malaika, the Miss Zimbabwe 2011 winner was written in the stars.
Not only did Malaika Mushandu, 18, take the crown – she also picked two further individual awards on Saturday night, making her one of the youngest and biggest winners in the pageant’s history.
Her name is Swahili for ‘Angel’, and there were no surprises when she was also named Miss Photogenic and Miss Top Model before a raucous Harare International Conference Centre.
The teenager from Harare beat 33 other contestants from around the country and walked away with prizes worth US$22,000, including US$3,500 in cash.
The first runner up was Rumbidzai Mudzengere who was crowned Miss Tourism Zimbabwe with prizes worth US$18,000.
Lisa Morgan, 20, was second runner up and was crowned Miss Universe Zimbabwe, taking home US$16,000 worth of prizes.
Malaika, Rumbi and Lisa will represent Zimbabwe at Miss World, Miss Tourism World and Miss Universe respectively.
Lungile Mathe, Paula Machaya, Nadia Gori, Melisa Chikerema, Sandra Chanakira, Tanyaradzwa Chikuni and Kimberly Cole completed the top ten.
The contestants were asked the same question in the final section of the pageant by the two MCs, Bridget Gavanga and Tich Mataz: “What do you understand by ‘Promoting peace through tourism’ [this year’s theme for the pageant]?”
It was Malaika’s response to the question, along with her previous flawless performance, that sealed the deal. She pointed out that Zimbabwe has a bad reputation internationally, adding that tourism could be used to bust common myths and promote peace in the country.
With that, Malaika’s place in history was secured as the crowd chanted her name, and Samantha Tshuma’s reign had come to an end.
Other winners for the night were Nadia Gori who won the Miss Talent title for her energetic dancing. Bulawayo beauty Lungile Mathe won the coveted Miss Personality which is voted for by other contestants. The title of Miss G-Tide Face of Zimbabwe, as voted by the public, went to Kimberly Cole.
Noleen Mataga was crowned Miss Deaf 2011. The Miss Deaf pageant was held on Thursday as part of the Miss Top Model proceedings.
The pageant attracted a beyond capacity crowd at the Harare International Conference Centre, with over 5,000 people packing into the venue.
The event was attended by senior government officials who assisted in the crowning of the winners. Among them were Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Walter Mzembi and Senate President Edna Madzongwe. Sekeramayi, Kasukuwere and Mzembi were accompanied by their wives.
Entertainment was provided by Stunner, Munya Chidzonga (he joined Stunner for one of his songs), Winky D, Sanii Makhalima, Sebastian Magacha, Ex Q, Extra Large, Cindy, Tererai Mugwadi, Pastor Charles Charamba, MC Chita & Jnr Brown and Shastro.
The crowd was in a partying mood as they went wild and sang along each time one of the artists came on stage, with many leaping up to dance. Tongai Moyo and Sulumani Chimbetu were scheduled to perform at the after party — but seeing as the pageant dragged on until 3AM on Sunday, many did not wait to see if they did.
The time factor is one major issue that the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has failed to address year after year. This year’s pageant started over two hours after the advertised time of 7PM. There was so much packed into the programme that the event lasted a whole NINE hours.