Malawi has a new beauty queen. She is Miss Malawi Culture and her name is Malumbo Mtonga. Her role is to promote the Malawi culture and represent Malawi in international cultural forums as well as compete for the Miss Culture International in November this year. Our contributor FAITH KAUNDE caught up with Mtonga for details. Excerpts:
Who is Malumbo Mtonga?
My name is Malumbo Rachel Mtonga, first born daughter to Mr and Mrs Mtonga. I am 25 years old. I have three siblings; my brother Chindikani, 22, my sister Angel, 19 and the last born Promise is six years old. I studied economics [bachelor of social sciences] and graduated in 2018 with a credit. I reside in Zomba, Habitat and I am a model by profession. I also have established a voluntary community-based organisation called Great Heights Recreation Centre. Apart from that, I volunteer for a non-governmental organisation based in Airwing. My favourite hobby is reading novels and educational/inspirational books as well as writing. I love travelling, even though I haven’t had to visit many places. My favourite food is chambo and rice with beans.
How did you find yourself in the modelling industry?
A: I started my modelling career in secondary school in 2012 and ever since it is something I have always had a passion about. The second time I did modelling was when I was in college. I was then crowned Miss Catholic University, that was in 2017. I was in fourth year by then. I remember one particular day I was visited by an agent for the Miss Malawi pageant. He had wanted to recruit me. I declined the offer then because it was my final year in college.
After finishing school, I wanted to do more of modelling. I contested for Miss Valentine [Zomba] and I got the crown. That was in 2018. After a while, I met the pageant director for Miss University Africa Malawi. I got enticed immediately and contested at the pageant held at Kabumba Hotel in Salima. It was such a memorable event. I remember the audience chanting my name as the master of ceremonies announced the queen. I was crowned queen. That was also in 2018.
And this started my pageant dream. I was invited to be on the judges’ panel for Miss Glam and Glory Malawi in 2019. I travelled with the team to Mzimba, Mzuzu, Kasungu, Karonga, Dedza and all areas in Lilongwe. However, we never got to the southern part of the country. And now we are here today as Miss Culture Malawi 2021.
Have you undergone any professional training in this trade?
No, I have not. I have always relied on video tutorials on YouTube about the top models worldwide as well as casual practices with friends and relatives. I have been modelling since I was 16. I can’t say I’m perfect, but through experience, I have had to learn the dos and don’ts of the trade.
You have been crowned as Miss Culture Malawi. What does this mean?
Being crowned Miss Culture Malawi queen means I have to be responsible for my culture. It means I have to represent the Malawian culture in everything I do both locally and globally. However, that will not be achieved on my own. I need support from my country. I need to understand every aspect of the Malawian culture in order to represent Malawi well.
What roles are you expected to do as queen?
The Miss Culture Malawi Beauty Pageant is themed at encouraging girl child education in Malawi. However, that should be done without sidelining the boy child. I’ve recently had responses from people about how most initiatives are solely about the girl child and not the boy. Well we all know girls are most vulnerable when it comes to a lot of issues simply because of their genetic make-up. It is rare to find a case where a boy has been withdrawn from school so he can get married to a rich woman to support his family while that is common for most young girls. As a beauty queen, it is my responsibility to educate my country to understand the importance of educating our young girls. It is also my role to fully understand my cultural heritage because I am expected to compete with girls from different countries all over the world and it is I who will represent Malawian culture.
How will you use the crown to promote culture and tourism?
As one of the aims of the pageant, I intend to showcase different cultural aspects of Malawi both locally and internationally. I want the world to appreciate Malawian culture and its beauty.
What are some of the challenges that you face as a Malawian model?
Most Malawians do not value the modelling industry. It’s either they have less knowledge of it, have a negative perception of it or are just slightly backward. There are cases where a Malawian model is contesting on an international level and yet so few people support him or her. It’s about time we regarded modelling as one of the industries to boost our country’s tourism as well as a means to economic development.
Can one survive solely as a model in Malawi?
In Malawi one cannot survive solely as a model. It is very impossible at the moment. There is a lot we need to improve if we are to make modelling a full time career.
How prepared are you to represent Malawi at the Miss Culture International?
Miss Culture International is in November and my management team is doing their best to get me ready for this international event. I will be travelling to different parts of Malawi just to get insights on the different cultural aspects of the country as a whole. Meanwhile, I urge all Malawians to give me all the support I’ll need when the time comes so I can shine and represent my country well.