By Grant Moyo
Mr Zimbabwe brand ambassador Bernard Ndlovu, aka Ben Chest (pictured), is calling on everyone to work with him to ensure that he makes a positive impact in society during his tenure.
The goal-oriented model believes that there is room for the government, private sector and citizens to support him as he pays special attention to the social needs of children, women and men by confronting all vulnerable situations.
Ben Chest has been in the modelling industry since 2008. He has strutted down the runway in Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. The numerous awards he has won include Most Handsome Model, Best Promotional Model in Zimbabwe, Best Male Model in Bulawayo, and Mr Zimbabwe, most recently. He will travel to Ghana to represent the country at the prestigious Mr Africa in September this year.
“If measures currently being taken to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic are successful, I will go to Ghana and compete with outstanding models from all over Africa for the coveted Mr Africa crown,” Ben Chest said.
“If I do well in Ghana, I will proceed to compete on an international level at the forthcoming Mr Universe.
“However, for now I am focusing on being an active participant in social development.
“I aim to implement positive change in communities before the end of my term.
“I intend to make an impact on youth engagement, assess girls and women issues, amend boys and men in predicament and help end the stereotype of male models.”
To kickstart his duties, the reigning Mr Zimbabwe has been moving around schools mentoring pupils on life skills, career guidance, branding and giving essential tips on how to contain peer pressure. To add to that he has been going around giving back to the under privileged.
“One of my biggest drives as Mr Zimbabwe brand ambassador is to help young people,” he said.
“I want to give them an opportunity to build their own destinies. I have been going around local schools in Bulawayo and Harare engaging with pupils, teaching them life skills, inspiring them by sharing my story as a model and public figure.
“I have also been involved in charity work. As part of my obligation in communities, I donated money and groceries to an orphaned family in Dzivarasekwa, Harare.
“I give credit to my colleagues who made this possible by helping me financially and giving me moral support.”
The major challenge that Ben Chest is facing in the fulfilment of his duties competitively is access to funds. This is putting his quest to uplift communities in jeopardy. He attributes this problem to the local modelling industry which is more biased towards women.
“I would love to do more charity work, but there is no money. Maybe it’s because of our economy which is not doing so well. If the government and private sector assist with funds, the communities will be developed. The biggest challenge when it comes to funding it’s towards the male model. I am crying out to say please sponsor us, support us because at the end of the day it is for the good of the nation.
“I do not know why the government and corporates hesitate to sponsor the male pageants. If you look at Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, female models get good funding and sponsorship to travel even abroad. But with male models its a different scenario. I am challenging the Ministry of Tourism to look into that and try to support us.”
He agrees that empowering the girl child right now is very effective because it is making the world a better place. He appreciates the contribution of women to the social-economic values of the society. However, he questions the future of the boy child in the modern-day society.
“Empowering the girl child is a good initiative and I think it’s very fair, but also at the same time we should also empower the boy child,” he said.
“If we try to bring the girl child up leaving behind the boy child, at the end of the day there will be a huge gap, meaning we will spend the rest of ours lives focusing on the same issue instead of fixing this once and for all.
“Let’s empower both so that in the near future we have equal rights and gender balance.”
Being a married man, Ben Chest strongly believes that if the wife is at home she needs to respect and honour her husband as the head of the family.
There should be an easy respectable hierarchy to channel authority. If that is followed, domestic abuse will be avoided. The model also encourages men to accommodate the views of the girl child, listen to what they have to say instead of brushing them off.
He says that modern men should not be like our fathers and grandfathers who lived in an era when equal rights were taboo and women were voiceless.
During his tenure, he also intends to end the stereotype mindset that labels all male models as gay. He defines himself as a straight person that loves fashion and very passionate about modelling.
Besides modelling, he is a recognised actor and entrepreneur who is also a brand ambassador for Edgars Zimbabwe, SterKinekor, and Alpha Mineral Waters.
Whenever he gets the platform to mentor, he encourages aspiring actors, upcoming models, and all career-driven youths to utilise the opportunity they get to go to school.
“If you have a dream, pursue it, never give up. Never drop out of school because the only fuel you need for your dream is education,” he said.
“If you are found without education at a later stage, it can cause complications towards your passion.
“So, while you have the chance to go to school and develop yourself, utilise that time. Listen to your parents and share your dreams with your parents so that they support your dream because a well established dream is that which is supported by the family.”
This is an important reminder that the government and private sector can co-operate with the public in meeting challenges that affect the country. It is very necessary to recognise commitment and the potential it has to restore a greater sense of purpose.
l Grant Moyo is a prolific writer, innovative media personality, entrepreneur and a creative artist who is passionate about using his creative mind for the betterment of society. Follow him on Twitter: @TotemGrant