CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
AFTER a seven-year hiatus, the Miss Universe Zambia returned last Saturday at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka where 26-year-old Isabel Chikoti was crowned winner.
Isabel, originally from Chingola, is Miss Africa Ukraine 2013 and Miss Zambia 2016 Top 12 finalist.
During the same pageant, Mercy Mukwiza and Luwi Kawanda were named First and Second Runners-Up respectively while Didia Mukwala got the Miss Personality title.
Overall, Isabel had to see off competition from 13 other contestants from different provinces who battled it out in the school wear, swim suit, cocktail and national costume categories.
It was a colourful and fairly well-organised event which, at around 19:00 hours, saw scores of strikingly well-dressed audience members arriving for the event which only started after 20:30 hours.
Before starting the show, a moment of silence was held for the late Miss Universe Zambia 2006 Mofya Chisenga, who died in 2011 while giving birth.
Now, clad in mini-skirt checked uniforms, the ladies energetically stormed the stage in the uniform wear, which was the first category. They later showed off their prowess in other categories but the national costume appeared to be the crowds favourite.
Here, the ladies’ outfits depicted Zambia’s national identity with the majority imprinting the national eagle or its feathers on their outfit.
As the models battled it out, an interlude of music from adored vocalist and songwriter Exile (Israel), Kuni and Iv Rain spiced up the event.
After being trimmed down to 10 and then five, the pageant’s chief judge Allesandrio Bergman from South Africa announced that the crown had gone to Isabel, who burst into tears of joy.
Isabel, who takes over the crown from Alice Rowlands Musukwa who has held it for seven years, described her victory as “extremely exciting”.
“This is a great opportunity for me to be a role model for young girls and I urge the models who did not make it never to give up on their dreams,” said Isabel, who holds a degree in management from a university in Ukraine.
“I will work closely with Miss Universe Zambia to make a difference in society and represent my country well.”
And Musukwa said she was confident the new queen will represent the country well.
Earlier, Ministry of Tourism and Arts permanent secretary Liya Mutale urged the models to use their beauty and talent to market the country’s cultural and tourism endowments to the outside world.
Mutale, in a speech read for her by National Arts Council (NAC) director Adrian Chipindi, said that she expects the winner to fly the Zambian flag higher when representing the nation in the USA.