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Drumbeat: Why has Malaika Mushandu been ignored?

She was just a little girl, obviously unconcerned about what she would do later in life. As her parents saw her playing with other children, they had no idea what their daughter would do in life but, like any other parents, they wished she could grow up an intelligent girl.
They probably prayed and asked God to guide their daughter through a successful journey on earth.

Then, Mushandu was obviously not worried about what was happening anywhere else beyond her surroundings.
So, when news went across the globe that Musasiwa had become the most successful Zimbabwean model at Miss World, Mushandu was in her own world, unfazed about such information and mostly worried about the next game she would be playing.

Even when Leonard Dembo’s song Chitekete was played at Miss World finals, a few years later to the delight of many Zimbabweans, modelling was still far from Mushandu’s ambitions.

But as she grew up and started making a few choices on what to emulate and admire, she realised that her body and looks could be the core of her future.

As she began admiring models strutting the ramp and imitating them secretly, the picture started to take shape and Mushandu began to realise her hobbies.

Maybe she did not know, then that she would take the art professionally because encouragement from teachers and parents was mainly for her to focus on her school work and start choosing an academic career path.

But as she grew up and familiarised with pageants, she obviously looked for role models and only then should she have heard or read about Musasiwa.
As her interest in modelling  grew stronger, she should have begun to watch what local and international professional models were up to.
She followed local and international models with a discerning eye, trying to predict her way and position as she measured herself against the professionals.

When she started winning pageants at a lower level, Mushandu should have brightened at the realisation that she had the potential to become a successful professional model one day.

More practice and grooming should have followed as she worked her way up the ladder.
All those years, there is one fact that was bare even before Malaika and all of us — no one had made it to Musasiwa’s level at Miss World.
For years, we sent representatives and most of them were booted in the very primary stages of the pageant while some that made commendable strides towards the crown still came home disappointed.

It was not until two years ago when Vanessa Sibanda came 12th at the international contest that we had some reason to celebrate. She had come closest to Musasiwa’s achievement.

As Vanessa went on to scoop other titles and do well on the international scene, many realised she had done a lot to come out number 12. Observing the calibre of models at hand, hope of coming that close began to fade away.
Very few people had any confidence in Mushandu but she brew ed a shocker. She came out ninth, which is now the second best achievement for Zimbabwe and Miss World.

She was second in Africa at the pageant.
Surprisingly, she returned home some weeks back yet her return was never celebrated as we have seen with other disciplines in the near past.
Why are we not rewarding her? We have rewarded finalists and mere participants at international arenas but we have ignored Mushandu.
Why can we not do as we did to Munyaradzi Chidzonga, Vimbai Mutinhiri, Stephen Muzhingi, Brian Dzingai, Kirsty Coventry, Under 20 rugby team, Mighty Warriors and Wendall Parsons among others.

Mushandu’s achievement is not mean. Maybe we can inspire other models. 

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