Chief defies tradition, backs modelling daughter

HARARE - Chief Moses Njelele, a custodian of cultural norms and traditions, is the last person you would expect to have a soft spot for pageants.

In 2007 for example, several chiefs including the chiefs’ council president Fortune Charumbira, objected to the use of bikinis in the now defunct Miss Rural Zimbabwe beauty contest of that year.

But Chief Njelele of Gokwe, whose daughter Evelyn was crowned first princess at the Miss World Zimbabwe 2017 held in Borrowdale Brooke on July 22, is clearly of a different persuasion.

Unlike fellow chiefs, who are mostly conservative, Chief Njelele views pageants in positive light.

“I regard beauty pageants as initiatives meant to empower the disadvantaged girl child in society. That is why I allowed my daughter to take part in the Miss World Zimbabwe beauty contest,” the chief told the Daily News on Sunday.

He added that he began supporting his daughter’s quest to be a model and beauty queen when she was in her early teens.

“Evelyn took part in different beauty pageants and these include Miss Teen that was organised by Avondale School in Harare and Miss Rio Tinto pageant when she was a student at Rio Tinto High School in Zhombe among others. She took part in all these pageants with my blessings.

“To me, modelling is a career like any other. It is just like nursing or teaching or any other profession. If the concerned girl child is disciplined, she can earn a decent living out of it,” the Gokwe-based chief told the Daily News on Sunday.

Though totally supportive of his daughter modelling pursuits, the chief, who has two daughters and a son, was quick to point out that he has always emphasised the importance of education to Evelyn and his other children.

“Evelyn is doing well education-wise. She is currently pursuing an accounting degree with the University of Zimbabwe,” said Chief Njelele.

The chief’s support of his daughter’s modelling dream appears to be beginning to pay off. Evelyn, who was beaten to the national beauty queen crown by Chiedza Lorraine Mhosva, walked away with $10 000 at the Miss Zimbabwe World Zimbabwe prize presentation held in Harare early this week. She also won a year-long work-related attachment place at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as part of her prize package.

Chief Njelele’s wife- Virginia- is equally supportive of her daughter’s fledgling modelling career.

“Evelyn was bred in rural Gokwe and she attended rural schools which included Cheziya High School. If indeed rural areas are the strongholds of African culture as people say, then how can modelling pageants such as Miss World Zimbabwe corrupt a well-behaved young girl such as Evelyn?

“In fact, she was raised in a typical rural set up. She can do all the household chores you can think of including carrying a bucket of water on the head from the borehole. She can cook and wash clothes. She is a typical rural Zimbabwean girl,” said Virginia Njelele, who added:

“We are very proud of our daughter Evelyn for proving to all that a rural girl can also be a model. She has been a very good example. She has raised the bar for all rural girls.

“It is not surprising that she is now being invited on a regular basis to grace events at many rural schools. She has inspired school-going girls in Gokwe and because of her modelling has become a possible career path for these girls,” said the chief’s wife.

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