They were all elegant, beautiful and talented. They strutted their stuff with vigour and style. They swaggered with flair and chic. They thrilled the audience with a modish catwalk. But at the end of it all, only one of them walked taller and held her shoulders high. She was crowned Beauty Queen. It was pure class.
Final year law student from Birmingham University’s Law school, Alexina Phiri has been crowned as Miss Malawi UK 2013 after outsmarting four other contestants on Saturday night during a well-patronised spectacle of beauty and brains held at Club La reference Bar and Restaurant in the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham.
The colourful Miss Malawi UK 2013 edition was coincidentally happening at the same time as the Miss World grand finale, which was concurrently taking place at a venue in Bali Island, a province of Indonesia, amid heavy protests by overzealous Islamic groups.
The Malawian beauty contest in UK seeks at promoting Malawi’s tourism to UK and the rest of the world.
Alexina Phiri, 20, unanimously won the contest after impressing a four member panel of ‘exquisiteness and mental aptitude’ judges headed by Nyasa Times editor Thom Chiumia and the audience that filled the venue to capacity, with not only her endearing looks but also with her intellectual agility, sensational singing ability, dancing skills and her articulation of her vision for Malawi.
It came as no surprise when Alexina’s name was announced by Director of Ceremonies Kondi Bowoyeke Munthali – who is also a co-organiser of the event – as the audience yelled her name even before the announcement was made.
“I am so happy. I would like to thank everyone for supporting me. I have always wanted to do something to help my country. I will use my crown to promote Malawi as well as helping the vulnerable people through charity,” said Alexina amid sobs.
It seems as if Alexina – who conquered the audience when she sang a Beyoncé song – had a strong belief that she would be crowned Malawi UK Queen as she registered herself to represent Malawi at the Miss Black Africa Beauty pageantry to be held on October 5 at the Royal Regency hall in London.
Out of seven girls who qualified for the grand finale only five contestants, who include Alexina Phiri, Eltina Maganga, 20 an actress, practicing performance art at Belgrade Theatre, sociology student Malaika Macholowe, Raysha Mohamed 18, Child Psychology student and actress Agatha Phiri strutted their stuff and displayed their respective talents before a throng of people who travelled from across England, Scotland and Ireland.
They showed off Malawian traditional fashions and paraded and cat-walked to demonstrate Malawi’s cultural values during the contest.
Sandra Gwengwe and Mercy Chirwa did not turn up for the contest.
One of the rounds involved contenders to explain themselves how they can help in promoting the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ if crowned the beauty queen and comparing stories of how much they know and understand Malawi was a requirement for all those taking part.
In the run-up to the final, the six contestants underwent a rigorous photo shoot and made promotional videos explaining themselves why they want to be chosen Miss Malawi as well as what they would do if they won.
Alexina Phiri, who received the crown from former Miss Malawi UK winner Rudo Minofu alongside Bernadetta Guwa-Banda, cried a river of joy when her name was called out as the as the winner.
For emerging the tops she was awarded the grand prize of £400.00 cash (about MK240, 000.00) which was sponsored by Techmiya Shipping and Forwarding and Cleaning services Limited. There was also and additional £200 given to her by the sponsor who declined to be identified.
The beauty queen had said in an interview before she won that she was just trying “to show the world that Malawi is a beautiful country” and pleaded with people from other countries to visit the southern African nation and experience what she described as “exquisite beauty and kindliness of the world’s warm-hearted people.”
“I want to become Queen to help the needy in Malawi. I am people-centred and a firm believer in quality education. If crowned the Queen, I will endeavor to dedicate myself to work with the disadvantaged and at the same time promoting my country, Malawi through tourism. Through the Miss Malawi UK office, I will tirelessly work to attract and encourage as many people to visit the Harm Heart of Africa,” she articulated impressing judge Thom Chiumia and his panel which also included former Bullets, Mighty Wanderers and Malawi international football defender, Mike Gladstone, Yasmin Elias who was Miss Malawi UK 2010 and a Zimbabwean renowned fashion designer Tyra Audrie Tsitsi for Elegance by Grace Fashion and the audience who cheered deafeningly in approval.
“My mission is to put my country, Malawi on the world map. I will dedicate myself to charity work and with support from the Malawian government and international governments and organisations, I will strive inspire the kids especially the girl-child to access quality education,” she pledged when asked what would do if she was to be crowned beauty queen.
Eltina Magaga scooped the runners-up and received £200.
Agatha Phiri was crowned Second Princess and she carted home £150 which was sponsored by Softek Solutions while Raysha Mohamed went home with £100 after being voted in as Miss Personality courtesy of the organisers of the show.
Malaika Macholowe was crowned the Most Popular Contestant and Miss Congeniality . She was rewarded with a Tablet which was sponsored by Robert Brown Consulting Group (RBCG)
Malawi’s former Big brother housemate, Felicia Ngoma donated clothes from her fashion house Nyasa Fashion group to dress the top three contestants.
Wedding Deco with Hannington Gondwe also made sure the event decoration was in Malawi flag colours of black, red and green.
The contestants showed their dancing skills to traditional Malawian music and were all clad in traditional attires and those that wanted to see the girls parading half naked in the most popular swim wear must have been disappointed as there was no such category as the contestants only showcased attires in traditional, casual and office wears.
Explaining on behalf of judges, Chiumia said in an interview they held the pageant without swim wear “to show that beauty does not lie in nudity and that the contestants are but role models to millions of children.”
There were several performances during the night by an array of Malawian music talents and the audience had too much more than they had bargained with an epic performance by award-winning sensational hip hop music royalty, Republic of Ireland based crooner Popp Dogg who gave a thrilling performance keeping the patrons on their feet.
Also dazzling the crowd with a wonderful performance full of dexterity was London based Malawian hip hop star Twizz Pliz.
Leicester based Justice Madeya blazed the stage with his Chikondi Chenicheni, a rendition of Gyptian’s fine-tune, Hold You.
Nick Thindwa also performed his song as and London based as writer and author of Blood Money Mzondi Lungu recited a Malawi a folklore anecdote.
Speaking at the event Malawi Association UK (MAUK) vice chairperson Gertrude Chirambo who was also representing the Malawi High Commissioner to London , Bernard Sande who had other engagements and delegated his deputy John Tembo but unfortunately failed to attend the function after taking ill, said the Malawian embassy and her organisation fully supports the Miss Malawi UK pageant as it aims to promote the country’s tourism sector as well helping the needy through charity.
Chirambo whose organisation MAUK is an umbrella body for all Malawians in the UK Malawians in the UK urged to be united at all times and support each other in times of both need and happiness.
“On behalf of Malawi Association UK and the Malawi Embassy, I would like to commend the organisers of this event for putting up such a colourful function. Both the Malawi Embassy and Malawi Association UK support such events such as this one whose aim is to promote our country.”
“May I ask all of you that as Malawians we must always be united and support each other. The huge turn out tonight is a clear testimony that we Malawians live in harmony, let us continue supporting each other,” said Chirambo.
One of the patrons, Lawrence ‘Larry’ Cumber from Coventry, told Nyasa Times in an interview after the function that it was a good occasion and that he had a good time but stated that it could have been better if the organisers were more organised and time conscious.
“Overall, it was good but it could have been better. There a few things that was out of place but I hope next time they will look into those things. As for time, I can’t really blame the organisers as the patrons too came too late and that delayed things,” he said.
In an interview organisers, Kondi Bowoyeke Munthali and Henry Dokowe Ngwira expressed satisfaction with the show saying people responded so well to the event.
Said Munthali: “The turnout was excellent. It was a sold out show. We appreciate the support that Malawians gave us. People came from and wide to patronise the show.”
After the pageant, the patrons were treated to an after party at Club La Reference until the wee hours.
It was a night to remember.
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