Winning the Miss Heritage World Zimbabwe title at the recently held Zimbabwe Tourism Authority-inspired beauty contest was something that Thabiso Phiri never dreamt of.
The vivacious 21-year-old emerged one of the winners at the inaugural Miss Carnival Queen beauty contest, held at the Harare International Conference Centre.
Though there has been a lot of grumbling on the criteria used to select the contestants for the Miss Carnival pageantry, Phiri managed to shrug off competition from other contestants and was crowned Miss Heritage World Zimbabwe.
Phiri scooped US$10 000 prize money and a monthly allowance of US$700 courtesy of the ZTA plus many other accolades, amounting to US$28 000.
On what could have made her stand out among several other models that took part in the competition, Phiri said that being herself throughout the pageant could have been the secret to her victory.
“During the pageant, I stayed true to myself. I did not pretend to be someone that I am not. I really tried to put myself out there so that I could be visible. I also believe that it was by the grace of God that the judges saw something in me that was outstanding,” said Phiri.
The pageant was part of the inaugural Zimbabwe International Carnival and it was held under the theme, “Celebrating the Diversity of our Beauty”.
The Miss Heritage Trust collaborated with the ZTA in running Miss Heritage World for the Zimbabwean chapter during the Zimbabwe International Carnival.
Phiri was born in Harare and she is currently studying towards attaining a law degree at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). She is the second child after her elder brother born to their late mother.
Reflecting on her upbringing, Phiri recalls that her childhood was not rosy.
“I was practically raised by my mother because she was a single mother and, believe me, there are times when things could be really tough for us, but somehow we survived.
“That hard life helped me to mature faster and as young as I was I understood that my situation was different from other children who had both parents. I learned to live and survive with what was there and I inspired myself to get something out of our difficult situation,” she said.
After her mother died in 2007, Phiri has been hopping from one relative to another, especially her aunts (mother’s sisters) who live in Chitungwiza and Kwekwe. Phiri considers herself lucky because she has a strong family support system.
“My mother’s sisters have been there for me since my mother died, though I miss her at times, my aunts have been there for me to fill the void,” added Phiri.
When she was growing up, Phiri had dreams of becoming a flight attendant but that later changed as she sought to become a lawyer.
Though she entered other beauty contests like the Miss UZ and Elite Model, among several others, Phiri says winning the Miss Heritage World Zimbabwe was a huge surprise for her.
“I have tried my luck with other pageants, but winning the Miss Heritage World Zimbabwe totally came as a surprise to me. It is obvious that all the contestants hoped to win and considering how I rated myself compared to other contestants, winning came as a shocker,” said Phiri.
Phiri will represent Zimbabwe at the Miss Heritage World pageant, set Victoria Falls in August at a date soon to be announced.
The pageant will bring over 60 contestants drawn from Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.