By Bruce Ndlovu
Before Sarah Mpofu founded Fingers Academy, back when she used to walk the ramp herself, she was denied glory on the Miss Zimbabwe stage, a platform where she has coached many to victory.
After graduating from Face Enterprises Modelling Agency in 1986, Mpofu had risen to the top of the pile in the Bulawayo modelling scene, at a time when the beauty industry was dominated by white faces both in the City of Kings and elsewhere around the country.
After coming tops in the Miss Face and Miss Bulawayo pageant, Miss Zimbabwe seemed to be the next logical step for the go-getter who at the time envisioned herself strutting her stuff on some of the most famous ramps around the globe.
However, her bid to clinch the national crown was impeded by circumstances that were beyond her control. In much simpler times when showing off too much skin and not nude pictures were the plague that troubled Miss Zimbabwe, the pageant had been banned.
“I wanted to take part and win Miss Zimbabwe but I couldn’t at the time because the pageant had been banned. I remember this happened because people in Zimbabwe had been outraged by the swimsuits that the models had been putting on in a past edition of Miss Zim. The ban was to be in force for several years and I never got a chance to walk the Miss Zimbabwe ramp,” Mpofu said.
The ban in effect derailed Mpofu’s career, and in the long run she decided to concentrate on the role of mentor as she transformed into a local modelling guru. With that in mind, she said she never loses sleep over what could have been.
“I don’t really think about it because if I had gone on to have a successful modelling career perhaps I wouldn’t have gone on to become the person that I am today. Everything happens for a reason,” she said.
According to Mpofu, the ban that robbed her of a successful career is the reason that she decided to fight for the modelling industry’s right to existence.
“I don’t want to beat my own drum but I consider myself a national hero. After emerging as one of the few black models in the industry back in the 80s,
I’m also one of the people who fought for the independence of our industry. We came up when Zimbabwe was still very conservative and we fought tooth and nail to see the modelling industry prosper and today just look how far we’ve come. I can stand with pride as I look back on how far we’ve come,” she said.
Having watched models she has groomed like Samantha Tshuma, Oslie Murangai, Lorraine Maphala and the current Miss Tourism, Ashley Morgan flourish, Mpofu is not done just yet. As she prepares to bring the highly anticipated Miss Tourism pageant to Bulawayo this year, she believes that her greatest strength is grooming models that take their talents from the ramp to the boardroom.
“I groom my models to be great people all round. That’s why I’m not jealous of all that they’ve achieved on the ramp and in business because there’s no harm in letting one candle help another shine,” she said. The Sunday News