Tanzania’s Nelly Kamwelo was crowned Miss Southern Africa International (MSAI) after stiff competition from other models at an event held at the Mukuba Hotel in Ndola, Zambia, on Sunday evening.
Kamwelo’s colourful but nicely-fitting evening wear impressed the judges who also awarded her the prize for Best Evening Wear.
Zambia’s Persivia Chimfembwe Mulenga and Namibia’s Paulina Muloho were crowned Miss SAI first and second princesses.
Mulenga’s traditional wear was also outstanding and this saw her being awarded for the Best Traditional Attire prize.
Best swimwear title went to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Ketia Baraka Sangwa while Botswana’s Benah Sekgabo was crowned Miss Personality.
Kamwelo told NewsDay she could not believe it when the judges announced she had won the pageant.
“There was a mix-up of names when the judges announced so I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to win or not. All the models were pretty and had their different strengths so it was a 50/50 for me,” said the newly crowned queen.
For being crowned Miss SAI, Kamwelo won herself a trip to Seychelles and Lower Zambezi and a tour of the Bumi Hills courtesy of Seychelles Tourism, Bumi Hills Safari Lodge and Pro Flight.
She will also be the ambassador of breast and cervical cancer during her reign.
Zimbabwe’s representative, Evelyn Gondo, could not stop blaming herself for failing to secure anything from the pageant.
“I feel like I’ve let down a lot of people who really believed in me and thought I would bring the crown home. I guess I didn’t perform well,” said Gondo.
Seven vibrant girls drawn from Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe participated at this year’s Miss SAI.
Chairperson of Mukuba Hotel, Jane Kabwela, consoled losing contestants saying: “To those that did not make it today, take it that your opportunity has not come. You have to soldier on till you make it in life.”
The event, which was held during the annual 42nd Zambia International Trade Fair, saw talented upcoming theatre groups and the Zambian Koomboka group delivering top-drawer performances.
Hildah Mulenga, Miss SAI director, said South Africa and Mozambique pulled out at the last minute.
“South Africa and Mozambique pulled out at the last minute and I don’t know why as they just stopped communicating with us,” she said.
Vanessa Sibanda (Queen Vee) who was also billed to perform at the event also did not turn up for the event under unclear circumstances.
Miss Southern Africa is an international event that celebrates the people of Southern Africa, its cultures, the colourful and vibrant fashion of its many ethnic groups, its expressive and emotive music and the fantastically beautiful talents of its women.