It has been nine months since Tionge Munthali was crowned Miss Malawi. The petite beauty entered office filling the big shoes of Cecilia Khofi. As expected, the beauty queen is supposed to carry our charity and awareness activities. Our arts reporter Brian Itai caught up with Munthali to talk about her experience this far.Excerpts:
Q: How has your first nine months in the office as Miss Malawi been like?
A: It has been full of ups and downs. Not exactly what I expected it to be. I thought everything will be smooth sailing but it has proved to be otherwise. However, with all the challenges I have managed to do some things that I am proud of. So I guess it has not been entirely bad. There are some positives that I can point at.
Q: You say it has not been easy for you as you had anticipated. What are the notable challenges that you have faced?
A: First of all what we need to appreciate is that all the girls who contested in the pageant had plans and dreams of the things that they wanted to achieve if they got the crown. And the same thing applies to me. But things are not always what you would wish for them to be because obviously you encounter challenges. And on the other hand you have public expectations too which you need to meet and satisfy. We have people that are looking to work with me without any payment because it is largely believed that the Miss Malawi Office is a charitable office.
Q: What were some of the goals that you had targeted to achieve during your time in office?
A: My ultimate goal was to do and be more. I know most times the Miss Malawi office does not get the respect it deserves because of the assumption that all you are is a beauty queen and nothing else can come from that. I have met people who have said to me that Miss Malawis just disappear after their reign without anything to show. I want to prove that is not the case. Take a look at what Blandina Kondowe for example. She has been able to achieve more and remain relevant after all these years. That is what I am aiming for as well.
Q: Given your present scenario, do you think you will achieve that goal?
A: Well, currently I am the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) youth champion and it is something that I am very passionate about. I believe there is so much that needs to be done in that area. So, whether I will achieve the level I want during my reign or after that I will still be content with my contributions I would have made to my country and my fellow youth.
Q: During your nine-month stay in the office, how many engagements have you carried out?
A: I have gone to several districts to speak to the youth about SRHR in my capacity as BLM brand ambassador, I have moderated discussions about modern contraception methods, I was part of the 16 days of activism campaign that has just ended, I hosted the She-Summit and I was part of the census team that made videos encouraging Malawians to go and get counted. These are some of the engagements that I can remember.
Q: What sort of changes would you love to see being made to the way the Miss Malawi office operates?
A: Miss Malawi is an office complete with a managing team as well as the two princesses. I feel it would be nice if the managers were made to be more involved in the running of the office. The same efforts that were put in organising the Miss Malawi contest should be put in the running of the office. It is a team so it would be nice if we worked like one.
Q: What sort of opportunities has the Miss Malawi office brought you?
A: This crown has given me the platform where I am able to address issues which affect the youth of this country in relation to SRHR. I have been part of the panel with the EU delegation as well as BLM which focused on how we can come up with ways to manage the rapid population growth. Just recently I was invited to Uganda for a young leader’s forum which included all youth from Africa which are making positive contributions in their society.
Q: How would you love to sign off during the remainder of your time in office?
A: There is still more work which needs to be done like I said earlier. And I hope I can carry on the work I have started as an SRHR youth champion beyond my reign. n