• January 28th, 2020

Former Miss Namibia… Wherefore art thou?

 Paheja Siririka and 
    Strauss Lunyangwe

WINDHOEK - The first woman to be crowned Miss Namibia was Bernice Tembo in 1980 after the pageant was founded by Nic Kruger the same year. The pageant has had three national directors since its initiation: Kruger (1980-1996), Danie Botes (1997-1998) and Conny Maritz (1999-current).

Merriam Webster defines beauty pageants as an assemblage of girls or women at which judges select the most beautiful. Like any other contests, the event can either make or break you, depending on what you do with it. 

With the Miss Namibia 2019 pageant taking place tomorrow, Entertainment Now! Could not help but wonder where the previous holders of this prestigious title are. Entertainment Now! reached out to some of them to inquire on what the recipe that made them win the title during the year of their reign was, what they are busy with and if they have advice to give to the contestants of this year’s pageant.

In 2016, Lizelle Esterhuizen represented Namibia and she said there was no particular recipe for her when she won the title. “What I can say right now is that it was very important to be myself and to always put my best foot forward. I had to prove that I have what it takes to be the best ambassador for my country. I am very passionate about being my own person and not giving in to stereotypes,” she said.  

Esterhuizen said she learnt a lot during the year of her reign. “What I learnt during the year of my reign was women are the most powerful beings on earth,” she explained. 

She faced and came to the realisation that no obstacle is too big of a challenge if you work hard. “I also learnt that no matter what, you should never lose faith in yourself, your abilities and your power,” she said. 
Careerwise, Esterhuizen recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education (Honours) from the Institute of Open Learning and plans to proceed with her studies. 

Being part of the pageant is an amazing experience and Esterhuizen has tips for the 2019 Miss Namibia contestants. “Be authentic to yourself and be proudly Namibian. Be the best Miss Namibia for our country, even though you are still a finalist. All of the best,” she advised.

Another former Miss Namibia that stood out, now based in South Africa, is Steffi van Wyk-Brink, Miss Namibia 2015. Married to South African actor Clint Brint, News24 reported the couple was held at gunpoint earlier this year in Midrand and escaped unhurt. Through her reign, Van Wyk-Brink has learnt resilience and hard work. “I got to know the less privileged people in our communities,” she said. 

Her theme during the year of her reign was ‘Beauty with a Purpose’. “This led to me finding a heart for people outside of my comfort zone,” she remarked. 

A lot has changed after she became Miss Namibia. “All that still stands today, if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have met my husband, I wouldn’t have been on Survivor South Africa today. Everything had a ripple effect because of the things that came with the title,” she reminisced. “Miss Namibia was preordained, it was premeditated. It happened in the spur of the moment,” she believes. 

The secret recipe for her was just being herself, especially in a world where there are many women trying to pull each other down in order to reach the top. “I decided to not be that person,” she said.
Careerwise, Van Wyk-Brink is phasing into the entertainment industry. “I am looking at presenting work at one of the broadcasting networks, be it DStv or Mnet,” she added.  Van Wyk-Brink has a passion for people and being out there and finding out about their stories. 

She had wise words for those taking part in this year’s pageant. “Stay confident, remain humble. Be yourself. Try to learn as much as you can about people because you are constantly going to be with people. I highly recommend that the ladies work on their public speaking because that is something I personally lacked in,” she stated. She further said the ladies should know themselves physically. 

“Know your face when taking pictures, know the angles, your best side. When you get crowned you are going to have a lot of pictures taken and sometimes you won’t be happy and you will come across pictures of you posted without you being aware, know your good sides,” said Van Wyk-Brink. “That is something I have to commend about our current Miss Namibia, she is gorgeous when it comes to being photogenic,” highlighted Van Wyk-Brink.

Lastly, she said those taking part in the pageant should use their influence to stand for a greater purpose. “The crown is not intended to make you famous but for you to make a difference in society,” she emphasised. 

Another young woman, who once held the title, is 1.75 metres tall and that is Paulina Malulu, former Miss Namibia 2013. Malulu had itineraries on preparing for the big contest and prepared for everything that would be expected of a national beauty title holder. “Preparation is key. I prepared for Miss Namibia like one would for any job. I did my homework on the pageant. I prepared myself mentally, physically and emotionally,” she recalled. 

Exercising is important, according to Malulu. “I exercised, ate right, kept up to date with local, regional and global news. I watched videos on previous pageants: the walks, how to prepare for interviews as well as updating my wardrobe,” she stated. 

Learning from events is vital and that is how one grows. 
“Becoming Miss Namibia makes you popular but staying relevant and building your brand is completely up to you. In simple, the pageant gives you fame but you need to build your own fortune. This is something I learned and now apply when afforded opportunities. That I should make the most out of everything. Miss Namibia was only a stepping stone,” said Malulu.

For Malulu, it did not end with that pageant, as she has taken her influence following her reign to greater heights by establishing her own biennial beauty pageant called Miss Republic of Namibia - Cultural Ambassador, which challenges pageant clichés and redefines the standard of beauty in an African context. “I am a consultant, specialising in natural spa/salon setups and I also do research on intangible cultural heritage,” explained Malulu on her career. 

Having the title of Miss Namibia is not that easy nor is it a walk in the park if your heart is not in it. “For 2019 and the years to come, the experience can be overwhelming but always remember to be yourself. Do not change yourself to fit into any standard of beauty that does not embrace your natural self,” said Malulu, giving tips to the current contestants.  

She advised the contestants to be creative with their wardrobe without having to spend money they do not have. “Seek mentorship or coaching from those who have walked in the shoes of Miss Namibia. Be it previous contestants or winners. All the best,” she concluded.

Former Miss Namibia all have tales to tell and Petrina Thomas is no different, crowned as Miss Namibia 16 years ago, she says she had to equip herself with as much knowledge as possible about anything and everything locally and worldwide and that has taught her valuable lessons in life. 
“I have learned that fame is instant but humility keeps you embedded in the hearts of many for a very long time after your reign,” she said. 

Careerwise, Thomas, who recently obtained a qualification in public relations, is the manager of Taurus Maintenance Products Northern branch in Oshakati. “I love talking and engaging others, hence I finally obtained a qualification that carries my passion. I am the branch manager of Taurus Maintenance in the north,” she said. 

Thomas has advice for the current contestants. “My advice to the contestants is: give your all to the best of your ability but in doing so remain your authentic self because it is the soul that wins hearts,” she guided.
The Miss Namibia 2019 pageant is taking place tomorrow at a local hotel. Entertainment Now! wishes the ladies all the best and as alluded to by the former titled holders: Remain your authentic self! Always.

Strauss Lunyangwe
2019-07-05 10:56:13 | 6 months ago

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