Chiedza Hukuimwe (23) was crowned Miss Deaf Zimbabwe 2017 at an event held at Longcheng Plaza last month.
Ruth Mukombe and Natasha Sibanda were crowned as First and Second Princesses respectively. Thandinkosi Sibanada walked away with the Miss Personality title.
Fourteen contestants lined up at this year’s pageant which was run on a shoestring as sponsorship was hard to come by. According to the founder and organizer of Miss Deaf Zimbabwe, Madeline Yohane, sponsors are still underestimating the capabilities of people with disabilities, including their capacity to represent big brands.
“ We have been holding the pageant on and off because we have been facing resistance in terms of support and we have had to depend on the few corporates that have been donating to us,” said Yohane.
Financial challenges seem to have haunted the pageant since it started in 2007, which has resulted in the event being held haphazardly. For the past ten years the pageant has been held five times in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2017. In the other years, funding constrains made it impossible to host the pageant.
In 2009 Bibit Marume was crowned Miss Deaf but failed to represent the country in the annual Miss Deaf World Pageant held in Czechoslovakia. The same fate may befall the new queen who is expected to represent Zimbabwe in this year’s edition of the world competition as no funding has been secured.
Despite the challenges the organisers faced, models who spoke to Harare News through Angeline Matambudziko, a volunteer interpreter expressed delight at the opportunity.
Thandikosi Sibanda, was excited to be modelling for the first time.
“I am thankful for the support I have received to be here, at least I can show that the deaf can also do it,” she said.
Melisa Chiri who has participated in Miss Deaf 2013 said that deaf women should be given a fair chance and not discriminated against based on their disability.
“ Through this pageant I have managed to go as far as South Africa with modelling just like other models who do not have hearing problems,” said Chiri.
Different designers and fashion entrepreneurs sponsored the pageant by proving the models with clothes for the traditional wear and evening wear categories.
Tarisayi Gweje who uses the trade name ‘Chaivo’ sponsored the traditional wear category with her unique designs which received a positive response from the crowd.
Panache and Posh among other sponsors made a contribution towards the evening wear category.
Rebecca Muchenje from ZIFM and John Cole kept the crowd alive with dance moves and sign language competition as the MCs.
Seasoned Musician Willis Watafi, designer Marshall Maliluka and choreographer Eric Godzongere were the judges for the night.
The event held at Longcheng Plaza was attended by a modest but enthusiastic crowd cheered throughout the excellent occasion.