By Mtandazo Dube
Much like this year’s Zimbabwean Big Brother Africa representatives JJ and Butterphly’s stay in the reality show; third choice Miss Zimbabwe Tendai Hunda’s sojourn in London was a non-event.
As the drama at the Miss Zimbabwe Trust reached comic levels, with the dethronements of Thabiso Phiri and her replacement Catherine Makaya — the latter getting the boot a few days before Miss World — the few interested parties followed the comedy in bewilderment while everyone else concentrated on politics.
It is easy to forget the current Miss Zimbabwe. She has no striking features, and she left no mark at the just ended Miss World.
What makes it even worse is that even as fate fought for the University of Zimbabwe student to be crowned Miss Zimbabwe, the organisers of the pageant felt otherwise, in short, they had no confidence in her.
But like they say, “you can’t fight fate” — one after the other, the queen Phiri and her replacement Makaya fell by the way side as fate decreed that the 1,76m tall model got the crown.
Today, Hunda, aged 23, has a story to tell. She not only got shocked when she was called in to be Zimbabwe’s representative at the Miss World, but her international campaign was a sick joke from start to finish.
Her problems began when she was not automatically chosen to be the next Miss Zimbabwe when the original queen, Phiri, was dethroned. As the first princess it seemed certain that she would be the replacement but the organisers chose to have a rerun.
But as fate would have it — “the chosen one” would ultimately disappoint and as a last minute, desperate move, Hunda got the nod — in a way saving Miss Zimbabwe Trust from serious embarrassment as the country ran the risk of failing to send a representative.
“It seemed unrealistic, but it was a prayer answered,” said Hunda of the call to represent the country. She added: “God’s grace located me. Miss World is a big platform; it is a life changing opportunity. Just being there was big enough.”
Born in a family of seven and having been raised by a single mother — Hunda’s tough upbringing must have played a role in her Miss World campaign — as she faced not one or two but a myriad of challenges in London.
Her first major test was the British visa, which came out several days after the Miss World boot camp had gotten underway.
“The visa came out in the morning and by evening I was on my way to England,” she said.
But by then, the unlikely Zimbabwean representative, who only got involved in modelling in 2009 while doing ‘A’ Level at Goromonzi High School, had missed most of the Miss World Fast Track events, which contribute significantly to the final mark.
“I got there four days into boot camp — but I still didn’t expect too much of the baptism of fire that I got. From the plane I was received by my designer who dressed me and from there I went straight to profiling. I didn’t even have time to do make up — my eyes were sagging yet I had to sit in front of a camera and be interviewed,” narrated Hunda.
She says she surprised herself and the organisers as she just blended in — “doing even better than the girls that were already in camp”.
But with all her efforts, Hunda had already missed out on the Sports Competition, auditions for the Talent Competition, auditions for Dancers of the World and the Oxford Debate.
At the Miss World — the more one participates in the aforementioned fast track events, the more they are visible to scouts and the judges, yet Miss Zimbabwe was out of the picture.
The one that pains her the most, though, is the Beauty with a Purpose competition.
“Miss World is no longer about a girl’s beauty — it is about how she can use her beauty to help her country and vulnerable people in society — how to change the world with that beauty.
“The Beauty with a Purpose competition carries most of the marks — it is the most important. Videos of the model’s project are played but mine was not as I had not managed to finish it,” she said dejectedly.
The UZ student, says she had to do in five days what other models had done in a year — therefore — was unable to compete.
“I will finish that project no matter what. Not for the competition but for me, for those kids at Tichakanda in Domboshava, for the over one million orphans in Zimbabwe,” she declared.
The model, who says she sometimes felt inadequate and out of place at the Miss World pageant — has vowed to help aspiring models avoid being humiliated and failing to compete adequately on the world stage.
“No model in this country should go through what I went through.
“To be criticised for doing your best to represent your country under the most excruciating circumstances is no way to treat a country’s queen.”
The reigning queen, who was in the Miss Carnival top seven last year and was the first princess at the Miss 21st in 2011, having been in the top 10 of Miss Harare — wants to advocate for better recognition of modelling in Zimbabwe.
“In other countries, modelling is a big deal and I believe that it should be a big deal here too. I will work tirelessly to make sure it gets the same support and attention that soccer gets in this country,” she said.
Hunda, who says she is more of an academic than a model, says she wants to groom the next Miss Zimbabwe and hopefully the next Miss World.
“Despite that I want to pursue my education further as an academic, I love music and I also feel that I have not done enough in the world of modelling thus I will groom our next Miss Zim, in fact, she will become the next Miss World,” she said.
On the criticism she got for her makeup, Hunda said she believes that she had the most beautifully done makeup among black models at the event.
“Our makeup was being done by whites and they struggled but mine was done well. I do not know who took that picture from television using a phone with poor picture resolution. I was beautiful that night.”
She, however, thanked Miss Zimbabwe Trust chairperson Mrs Marry Chiwenga and her team for giving her the chance and ensuring that even though she just had five days to prepare — she did so with her head held high. The Sunday Mail