Model’s amazing resilience

“It was an embarrassing situation, but I used it to my advantage too. I tripped and fell right in front of everyone, but got up immediately and struck a pose for them to see that I was ok and still confident and gave the best answer to the question asked by the judges. My courage to get up after such a fall was evidence that I was not ready to let anything come between me and that title,” said 23-year-old Precious, who announced before leaving for Ghana that she was quitting modelling to concentrate on her new job.

And despite the fall, Mumbi still feels that she deserved to be crowned Miss Africa Queen 2006, the title that she says was controversially won by Ghana’s Monica Mbillah.

“The crowd’s support, my excellent performance in answering the questions, my catwalk, my outfits, my talent and everything I did during the show definitely made me think I had won, but somehow I knew that there was no way they would let me. I have accepted Ghana as the winner and I feel that it is better to be the crowd favourite and make a mark than to be the winner when people feel it was not deserved,” explained Precious.

Mumbi, the only Southern African representative at the show, also received the award for best costume for her Lozi traditional attire, the Musisi, beating off competition from Liberia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and Guinea to win the first princess position. Gabon’s Karol Amvane Li-Ngnigone was adjudged second princess.

Precious said this being the last pageant she was participating in gave her no other choice but to muster enough courage and emerge winner.

“It was a relief. After the winners had been announced, I made a clean-cut exit from the beauty pageant as a contestant after making a mark for myself and my country. I still have a lot of work to do and fulfil my other obligations as Miss Zambia in the next few months and hope to see beautiful and intelligent Zambians try their luck at such pageants,” said a confident and brimming Mumbi who impressed the judges with a two-minute speech on gender equality and the importance of educating and empowering the girl-child and woman.

Asked if winning the competition had changed her decision to quit her modelling career, Mumbi said there was no way she was going back to the catwalk.

“I just feel that at my age I need to seriously concentrate on my new job, work on my career and focus all my attention on being successful not only as a model, but as the career-minded person that I am. I was lucky enough to have gone to university and I am also vying for a scholarship to undertake a master’s programme in Paris next year.”

She admitted her decision to quit had a lot to do with lack of seriousness by those involved in organising beauty pageants in Zambia.

“There really isn’t much happening in the Zambian beauty pageant world and contestants rarely get what is due to them after the pageants are held in terms of prizes. Financial support is the most critical and no one seems interested in sponsoring these pageants at all. In other countries, being crowned ‘miss anything’ gives you access to a car, house, money and you are taken care of throughout your reign, but this is not the case in this country.

As first runner-up at the Miss Queen Africa, Precious won a laptop, jewellery worth US$1 000, designer eye-wear worth US$3 000, air tickets to any African country of her choice, US$2 000 in cash, a tripod CD player, clothes, Miss Africa Queen golden trophy, certificates, a two-month advancement career internship in Ghana and a contract as the new face of FC (Forever Claire) cosmetics.

“One of the responsibilities that come with this title is that I will get to represent Africa at one of the important summits and will have a platform to also contribute my ideas on the various problems affecting us. Namibia is of course a must-visit priority because that is my second home and I would therefore like to touch base with my family and use the opportunity to market Zambia,” said Mumbi who was mostly educated in Namibia.

About her overall assessment of the competition, she had this to say: “Personally, I feel that this pageant has opened up so many doors for me, I just need to remain focused and find my direction. As I start a new chapter in my life I have to thank my family who have been incredibly supportive of me, to them I will always be their Miss Africa Queen,” she said with a beaming smile.

September 2006
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