Mazibuko values African beauty

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Despite the controversy that she courted with her Miss Rural pageant in various sectors locally and internationally, Sipho Mazibuko still believes that there is much untapped talent in various unexplored sects of modelling.

Founding Miss Rural Zimbabwe was one innovative idea from the former Miss Bulawayo, but the pageant had a great share of criticism from gender activists and other authorities in pageantry.

Although she made it through the normal modelling channels, the former model believes that there can be other ways of exploring beauty in an African model.

Mazibuko started out as a model in 1990 while still at school and she clinched the Miss Eveline crown.

The following year she won the Miss Highlanders beauty pageant. She became the first black Miss Teen Queen in 1992 and also became Miss Bulawayo in the same year.

Mazibuko told NewsDay in a wide ranging interview that she would have wanted to enter the prestigious Miss Zimbabwe but the pageant encountered numerous problems and folded just before she could enter.

“I campaigned vigorously to have the contest back on the circuit, but unfortunately when it was restored, I had given away my crown,” she said.

Mazibuko went to seek for lucrative modelling contracts in neighbouring South Africa.

“I was spotted by Veronica Mokoena from 3G modelling agency and soon I got a contract. I was doing photo-shoots for top magazines. They liked my smile, eyes and legs,” she said.

She later came back to the country.

Always enterprising, she opened her first flea market stand at the turn of the century.

When business grew in leaps and bounds, she opened her first shop, Strides with help from her friend, Avril Jardine.

“Modelling shows that we would subsequently organise, we would run under the Strides ambit, ” said Mazibuko.

Shows such the Miss Summer Strides and Miss Winter Strides were all organised by Mazibuko.

“All models under me get their wardrobe, make-up and all other necessities from Strides. They only have to bring their beauty, ” said Mazibuko.

A number of top models have emerged from the Strides pageants and these include Lorraine Maphala and Juliet Ncube who is now one of the most sought after models in South Africa. She has landed lucrative contacts there with blue chip companies.

In 2003, Mazibuko decided to scout for talent in the rural areas. “I am proud to proclaim that I am a rural girl,” she says.

She did Miss Filabusi. Other areas then followed such as Tsholotsho and Binga.

In 2006, she decided to turn the pageant national and came up with the Miss Rural Zimbabwe pageant.

Strides holds the rights to the showcase.

The inaugural show however courted controversy over the “bare-breasted models” that were on the ramp.

“We are bouncing back now with the pageant after a lull as a result of the economy which was a great challenge. We are hoping to have the pageant back at the end of October,” she said.

“The bare breasts will be there also. That is part of our culture.”

Besides being an entrepreneur and a groomer of models, Mazibuko also has a soft spot for the underprivileged and has helped a number of them previously.

Her interests however firmly remain in modelling and she has teamed up with Sarah Mpofu of Fingers and Ricky Nathanson of Ricochet to form the Zimbabwe Modelling Industry and Models Association which will regulate the modelling industry.

“We have noted with concern that there are some unscrupulous people who abuse models. They hold shows in night clubs and some such places without even considering the standards of modelling in the country.

“We want all that to stop through our association working in conjunction with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.”