Up close with Miss Zambia

After arriving at her residence in Lusaka’s Woodlands area for an interview I found Precious had left for work but was I told to wait in her bedroom.

I found myself getting excited because I knew that her room would tell me a lot about her personality and the things she considers important in life.

I quickly scanned her room the moment I entered and the first thing I noticed were a number of packed elegant suitcases. I remembered Precious mentioning to me that she was due to leave for Ghana later that day to attend the Miss Africa Queenpageant. Having some prior knowledge of beauty contests and judging by the title of the competition I knew the suitcases contained a lot Zambian traditional African outfits.

Her room plastered in floral wallpaper can easily be described in one word as a sanctuary, an inviting place filled with everything she loves.

Typical of a model, posters of various models and international celebrities are stuck on her wall. Just next to her in- built wardrobe is a medium sized wooden poster of a prayer, which after seeing a rosary carefully tucked on her dressing table not only revealed that Precious was Catholic but that she is a religious person.

The side tables on both sides of her room hold three framed pictures. One photo was taken during her graduation, on another she was photographed with a bunch of friends. She dazzled in the third, captured in an embrace with a young man who I later learned has been her boyfriend for more than four years.

Her love for fashion was evident by the stack of multi-colored handbags and scarf’s hanging on her wardrobe with pairs of high heeled shoes laid carefully on the floor. The stack of various magazines and books found on her dressing tables was also proof that the Zambian beauty was also an avid reader. Living like royalty, she has a television set and computer in her room.

In that 20 minutes I spent in her room before she phoned and asked that I meet her at the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) where she is Public Information consultant, I left having gained a better understanding of the person that she I was to interview.

Precious is arguably the humblest title holder ever in Zambia.

Precious even prefers doing her charity projects away from the prying eyes of the media.

For her, working in the communities without the media and its cameras assures people that her presence there is not to publicise herself but that she is genuinely interested in rendering her help to bettering their lives.

“I feel more satisfied every time I carry out my work in communities without any cameras involved, that way people also understand that am not doing this for show. And I just don’t think that it’s fair to parade people that less fortunate than I am,” says the 23 year old dark skinned, doll eyed Zambian beauty.

Her passion to serve others recently led her to adopting the Chilenje Transit Home, a place where abandoned children are kept before being adopted or re-united with their families. She supports the home through acquiring donations to feed and care for the children. In addition Precious is a blood donor and one of the committee members of the Zambia National Blood Bank Transfusion Service.

She bravely took a public HIV/AIDS test in one of the compounds in Lusaka in an effort to influence fellow young people to know their status.

“I believe that celebrities disclosing their HIV status in the fight against the pandemic would be a very effective way to bring reality closer to home, as regards to AIDS because people need to understand that despite who we are in society, we are all human

and are not exempted from catching HIV. Leaders like celebrities have a very important role to play in the fight against AIDS.”

Precious was named by the doctor that delivered her after when she was born two months premature.

Her mother Maria Sofia Mumbi was 45 years old when she gave birth.

“The name was given to me by the doctor that brought me into this world, he thought it was a miracle that being at seven months and in poor health I survived. I owe my life to my mother who despite being told to have an abortion when I was conceived, refused to terminate the pregnancy. Her health has deteriorated since and I see that as a sacrifice for the love she has for me. My mother also had to raise 10 children as a single parent after my father passed away” recalls Precious, the youngest in a family of 10.

As an infant she fought to stay alive and she succeeded, during the Miss Zambia pageant she had to stand tall and endure the cold response from the crowd when her name was announced as winner of the title.

Many expressed reservations crowning someone who had spent ten years leaving in Namibia. Others simply felt she had not been impressive enough to warrant the prestigious Miss Zambia crown.

“Winning the title was both a happy and sad time for me. The reception I received was hurtful, I think that most people had problems accepting me because I was not well known here especially after being in Namibia for so long, which was very sad for me because a known face should not guarantee one a title,” Precious said with her face downcast.

Before coming back to Zambia to look after her sick mother and entering the Miss Zambia contest, Precious had taken part in three other competitions at the University of Namibia (UNAM) where she was studying for a bachelors degree in media studies and sociology. Her first pageant was the Miss First Year in 2001, a contest that she won and her earned her an automatic entry into the Miss UNAM pageant the same year.

She failed to win the title though she emerged second princess the following year.

Precious says being Miss Zambia has its own benefits. Over the past year, she has had the opportunity to meet the first lady, various ambassadors, country representatives and met legendary American musician Alexandra O’neal while in China attending the Miss World Pageant in December last year.

“I may not have won the pageant but what is important to me is that I represented my country to the best of my ability and was considered to be amongst the top five African beauties. And because I am constantly being invited to grace various functions it has in turn helped me to articulate myself well in public.”

To crown it, she was awarded a scholarship to undertake a master’s degree course abroad, a scholarship she intends to use next year.

Her lowest point as Miss Zambia has been the treatment she receives from men who continue to habour the notion that models are naive and vulnerable women. Precious says she finds it degrading after presenting a well thought proposal for sponsorship and the only response she gets is a request to take

her out for a drink.

“Modeling for me used to be something I loved to do but now I understand the whole concept and believe that we are not appreciated or respected especially if there is nothing else one is doing other than modeling,” she said.

Precious advises modeling aspirants to advance their education if society is to respect them.

“For me modeling will stop upon my return from the Miss Africa Beauty pageant, I would like to concentrate on my job and other aspects of my life,”she revealed.

However, she was quick to point out that those aspects of her life did not include getting married and starting a family but making it clear that when the right time for marriage comes, it will happen. First she has a career to fulfill.

Her reign as Miss Zambia will soon come to an end. And soon Precious will disappear from the public eye for good, but she will never be completely forgotten especially by the less fortunate people whose life she touched with love and compassion.

August 2006
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