Namibian is Face of Africa

Otto vied against nine striking young women who had captivated the continent for weeks and strolled elegantly down a glossy black runway and into millions of African homes and hearts.

The Nokia Face of Africa 2006 final was seen in over 40 African countries in a special live broadcast by M-Net.

Fans across the continent were tuned in to see the spotlight-stealing Venantia named as the winner of Africa’s premier model talent initiative.

In a statement, Elite Model Management’s director of scouting Karen Lee said Venantia earned herself a life-changing US$150 000 modelling contract, courtesy of the global modelling powerhouse.

“Now she’ll be hoping to take New York by storm and begin her tenure with one of the world’s biggest and boldest agencies,” Lee said.

Shortly after the event, one of the judges, Karin Lee Grybowski from Elite Model Management in New York, told journalists at a Press conference that the winner was picked the night before, (on Saturday).

She explained that she and the other judges collectively reached their decision on Saturday based on continuous judging, involving a number of activities, carried over time. Lee Grybowski explained that the decision was a hard one since all the girls who made the top 10 were very talented aspiring models, stressing that even those who did not win the title were still winners. Lee said Otto would remain in South Africa undergoing training in preparation of starting her promising career in New York and would jet off to New York in October.

In addition to the modelling contract, Otto also won prizes from Nokia, Anglo Platinum, Sun International, Everlast, Loreal, Carlton Hair, Europa Art, Magents and Sun Goddess.

Otto, who was born in Windhoek, attended Mandume Primary School from Grade 1 to 7. She then proceeded to Cosmos High School for Grade 8 to 10.

The second Namibian to win the M-Net Nokia Face of Africa after Benvinda Mudenge in 1998, Otto was crowned Miss Cosmos (Namibia) in 2004 and is currently doing distance learning at the Namibia College for Open Learning (NAMCOL).

Otto, who was expected in Namibia this week, takes the crown away from Botswana’s Kaone Kario who has been the reigning Face of Africa.

Otto was among the 10 finalists with Kea Basima from Botswana, Sandra Bigirimana (Burundi), Mirash Davis (Ghana), Catherine Hemans Yankey (Ghana), Andenyi Anjalo (Kenya), Ishioma Onyebo (Nigeria), Melody Zulu (South Africa), Mulenga Mubanga (Zambia) and Munira Namakula (Uganda).

She was selected as Namibia’s semi-finalist to contest the prestigious Face of Africa pageant four months ago. She joined other semi-finalists from 11 sub-Saharan African countries.

The semi-finalists travelled to Botswana and Cape Town for rigorous “boot camp” selection sessions where Otto “conquered” by elimination and proved her talent. Selected over four months ago in casting sessions across Africa, all the 10 contestants survived two further elimination rounds in Botswana and Cape Town, proving that talent and training make a formidable combination

The Face of Africa project started in 1998 and ran for four years before suffering a short hiatus. Last year, M-Net and Nokia partnered and the project returned as the Nokia Face of Africa.

Previous winners of the title include Oluchi Onweagba (Nigeria), Benvinda Mudenge (Namibia), Nombulelo Mazibuko (South Africa) and Ramatoulaye Diallo (Senegal).

While the winner had most prizes, all the other contestants did not leave empty-handed, their prize included designer wear worth US$20 000 from Magnets and Sun Goddess, and US$1 000 in cash courtesy of Platinum.

August 2006
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