Nation to blame for Bongani's failure

By Tonderayi Zvimba

HARARE -
Zimbabwean beauty and Midlands State University Development Studies student, Bongani Dhlakama’s stressful ordeal while participating in the just-ended Miss World Pageant 2012 in Mongolia is a diplomatic and national embarrassment.

No national beauty representative should be allowed to experience the traumatic experience and nerve-wrecking preparations or endure the disorganised itinerary our Miss World 2012 emissary experienced.

A recent electronic report, broadcast nationally, prompted this writer to offer a critical assessment of her humiliation and proffer some corrective measures required to revitalise professionalism in our national beauty pageants.

There are a lot of preparations that are integral to one’s participation in a world pageant.

Modelling on the world stage and representing one’s country, in this case Zimbabwe is not just entertainment, or an insignificant diversion.

It is serious business — a career which must be perceived as a national duty.  

Beyond the glitz and glamour, our Miss Zimbabwe is a personification of us — our culture, etiquette, deportment, hospitality, education, tourism and she determines the international perception of us as a people.

Just like our football, the Olympics, or world tourism, our beauty ambassadors are national representatives and as such should be accorded national support, corporate and state philanthropy; regardless of which region she comes from or what ethnic group she represents.

Apart from having to sponsor herself with the prize money she earned from Miss Zimbabwe, even the designer appointed to create Bongani’s garments reneged on delivery citing insufficient publicity and payment for their failure to deliver — what an embarrassment — and how typical of Zimbabweans.

What does our apathy and lack of support say about us as Zimbabweans? One does not have to stretch one’s imagination too far.

One can only commiserate with Bongani, 23, for her sufferings and trust that such imbroglio does not become part of our national psyche as with everything else we attempt?  

Was the lack of support for the former Miss Bulawayo 2011 because she is from Bulawayo?

Or did she not receive adequate sponsorship due to lack of publicity?

Equally responsible for Bongani’s indecorous participation at the Miss World 2012 extravaganza is our affable albeit loquacious, pageant démodé and patron Kiki Divaris.

With all her experience and business connections, could she not garner the necessary funding, diplomatic reception and itinerary pre-requisites for Bongani’s concession and accommodation in Mongolia?
 
It must be known that Divaris’s responsibilities go further than her hankering for misplaced honour and public appearances.  

Like respect, honour is worked for and comes from one’s achievements and a practical input for ones undertakings.

Divaris is not beyond remonstrance, and should take the blame for Bongani’s traumatic trip. One can only commiserate with the model for the emotional and psychological trauma she recently experienced.
 
As patron and mentor, for the Miss Zimbabwe pageant, Divaris should take the full blame for Dhlakama’s embarrassing letdown.  

She could have easily arranged the correct protocol for her reception in China, including a chaperone, shuttle transportation, and her accommodation and sustenance and the other necessary trimmings.

The question here is where and what are our ambassadors abroad doing?

Our foreign ambassadors should be fully involved as well as facilitating the reception of Zimbabwean nationals visiting them in the host countries.  

Especially, as in this case, when one is representing their nation, as in the case of Bongani Dhlakama’s arrival to China. Should she not have received assistance from our erstwhile ambassador in that country?
 
Was she aware that she could have sought assistance from her ambassador, given, after all, that she was there to represent the nation?  

The fact that no one was there to receive and accommodate her is reprehensible.
 
Are our citizens not aware of their foreign ambassadors’ duties?

Winning a World Beauty pageant is not simply a matter of kismet.  

Attaining the crown requires practical planning, sustained morale and financial support, and most of all commitment and zeal from organises, sponsors, trainers, journalists, publicists, designers and models.

It is a national team effort, requiring selfless dedication and national pride. Not just appearing in the press or national television for self- aggrandisement and kudos.

A national participatory approach in future Miss World Zimbabwe pageants is required and perhaps our First Ladies and the many professed women entrepreneurs can take up the gauntlet and garner the correct expertise and a state fund for Miss World Zimbabwe — as is practiced in other advanced states.

A state fund should be arranged for such purposes — after all money was made available for Big Brother Africa whose moral implications are questionable in accordance to our national cultural ethos.

The lack of patronage and the ensuing disorganisation at the Miss Zimbabwe Trust gives modelling and beauty pageants in Zimbabwe its ugly face.

Factors that are germane to the development of the pageant include setting up of an honestly administered trust fund scheme which should cover the whole gamut of professional services and professional personnel to accompany aspirants to the world stage.

As a Nation we are collectively accountable for Miss Zimbabwe’s recent uncharitable ordeal.  

National pride should instil in us a spirit of National co-operation and bonding.

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