Twenty-nine-year-old Chimwemwe Kamkwamba, Miss Deaf Malawi, has been crowned Miss Deaf Africa while 18-year-old Darlene Lucile, Miss Deaf Mauritius, is Miss Deaf Indian Ocean.
Kamkwamba won the contest was during a simple but glamorous ceremony held at the International Conference Centre in the Sychelles on Saturday.
Attended by friends, family members and sponsors, the pageant was this year marking its 8th contest with the participation of nine beautiful contestants.
Miss Deaf Mauritius, apart from winning the crown for Miss Deaf Indian Ocean, also clinched the crown for 1st Princess while Miss Deaf Zimbabwe, 19-year-old Takudzwa Phiri, clinched the 2nd Princess title.
Miss Personality went to Miss Deaf Mozambique, Tania Maciel, while Miss Photogenic went to Miss Deaf Reunion, Oceane Dorval. Eliza Mundine, Miss Deaf Mozambique 2018 and the outgoing Miss Deaf Africa, crowned the new Miss Deaf Africa.
The outgoing Miss Deaf Indian Ocean from Madagascar was not present at the ceremony. The winners won prize money ranging between €500 and €800 as well as return tickets to Seychelles.
Organised by the Association for People with Hearing Impairment (Aphi) in collaboration with Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort and numerous other loyal sponsors of the event, the deaf beauty pageant aims to empower young deaf women in Seychelles and countries of our region so that they become confident and good role models for other young deaf women as well as a driving force each in their own way to make positive changes in their respective countries.
During the ceremony the audience were able to sit back to enjoy and admire the talents and abilities of the special contestants during their week-long journey before the crowing evening itself.
The contestants visited several historical places and institutions, went sightseeing, on boat outings and visited the Victoria market among other activities.
During yesterday’s pageant ceremony they paraded in their different outfits and performed a traditional piece from their respective countries wearing traditional attire to the joy and applause of the audience.
The ceremony was punctuated at intervals by entertaining performances by other young talented deaf students.
After the show Channel Alphonse, a deaf craftsman, presented each of the contestants a tanmi flower which he had designed and crafted himself.
Miss Deaf Africa, who is only partially deaf and could express herself well enough, expressed her joy at winning the title.
“With the crown I am really looking forward to do many more things to help and support other deaf people especially the younger ones. My main objective is to give them the confidence, the courage and the support they need to stand up and be whoever they want to be and do the things they want. Being deaf does not mean you should not believe in yourself; on the contrary you should be confident, brave and strong. I want to help them improve their lives and realise their dreams,” said Miss Kamkwamba who is currently studying logistics and supply chain management at college.
Expressing her satisfaction at the success of the pageant, Anita Gardner, the chairperson of Aphi and coordinator of the event, said without the loyal sponsors and the support of the public and families and friends of the contestants the pageant would not have been a success.
She noted that apart from the fact that the rain spoiled some of the outdoor activities organised for the contestants, everything went well and she noted that competition among the contestants was really tough.
“They each came with the objective of winning and they tried hard to prove themselves,” said Gardner.
Miss Deaf Africa is an annual event that unites the African continent behind a cause often overlooked by the hearing society. The pageant is all about highlighting the beauty and potential of the young women championing the interests of the deaf community. The first Miss Deaf Africa was held in 2012 and was an initiative of Maria Sivertsen from South Africa, who has been teaching deaf people for over twenty years.