Eight Zimbabwean women from different parts of the United States of America recently came from afar to compete for the crown of Miss Zimbabwe USA 2016 and there was, as expected, one winner.
Andile Nobuhle Mpofu came top of the annual pageant, which displays beauty and brains.
Twenty two year-old beauty is studying for a Business Economics Major at Green River College in California. The greater part of her education was mainly in Zimbabwe.
“I attended primary school at Amanda Primary School in Concession and did part of my high school at Langham Girls High and the last half at Harare High school.”
Her hobbies include modeling, cooking, camping and traveling. “I love trying out a bunch of new stuff, it could be food, culture … visiting new places.
“Another fun fact about me, I sing a lot but my singing only sounds good in the shower.”
She adds, “As soon as I wake up the first thing I do, is look at the clock not because I need to get going but because I would be wanting to calculate how many more hours I am left with before going back to bed.”
Andile, who is the last born in the Mpofu family, started modeling at the age of five.
“I come from a family of two girls and I am the last born of Thandekile and Nhlanhla Mpofu. I was born and brought up in Harare but my parents are from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.”
She adds, “I started modeling at five and my mum would teach me and my sister. My mum started to teach me and she would remind me not to slouch but sit up straight, chest out, head high. My mum continually reinforced it.”
She says the Miss Zimbabwe USA beauty pageant “was a scary one but also pretty relaxed. I had people support me especially my uncle and aunt who stay in the Washington state.”
She adds, “It was overwhelming, but my aunt was in the forefront and on top of the whole situation."
Beauty pageants over the world have nurtured a tradition of asking questions to test the minds of these future beauty queens and also as a strategy to find out how they perceive their country.
"One of the questions they asked me," says Mpofu, " ... is ... 'If l was to change anything in Zimbabwe what would it be?'”
Here is how she tackled that question. “We are more than our struggles, Zimbabwe is struggling as a country right now, we can be better than we are … The answer is within ourselves. To get the mind to be creative it has to know that it can be creative."
In her message to the youth, she says, "What I want to tell the Zimbabwe youth it that you are beautiful, you are gorgeous, beauty is from within. It’s not from the weaves or make up or even natural hair. Believe in what you are and don’t let anyone tell you that you are not.
"I want to thank all those who supported me in the beauty pageant, they cheered me on and that gave me the courage and faith."
The writer Chioneso Jani can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org