The dates have finally been set. The two controversial national beauty pageants, Miss Warm Heart Africa and Miss Malawi will take place in Lilongwe, with the former slated for December 16 at Crossroads Hotel and the later on December 23 at Sunbird Capital Hotel’s marquee.
Apart from happening within a space of eight days and in the same city, another bone of contention is that most of the girls who are participating in Miss Malawi are also participating in Miss Warm Heart of Africa.
Asked if this is not going to create confusion, the organisers of Miss Malawi, Artistic Agency, said the public is the one which will decide on which pageant to attend.
"We have been planning for this event even before Miss Warm Heart of Africa was born therefore, we cannot postpone now just because others have come with their initiative.
"This is going to be a blessing in disguise because it will give people an opportunity to judge or make a decision on which contest is serious," said the agency's national coordinator Vitu Kamanga.
However, he said they were still pushing for the car as part of the prize for the winner from potential sponsors.
"Although time is running out we have not given up the dream of giving out a car as first prize. Negotiations are underway for a sponsor who is willing to do that. Otherwise, a huge amount of money will be given instead but all consolation prizes are in place," he said.
On their part, Minena Gaming, organisers of Miss Warm Heart of Africa also defended the move, saying there was no cause for worry since the two are different events with different arrangements.
"We have been communicating to the public every set in the process of getting the first Miss Warm Heart of Africa. Two weeks ago, we announced the date and venue of the grand finale. The public is well aware of all this. It's not new at all. As of other players, we are hearing it from you," said Edward Kankhomba, public relations officer for Miss Warm Heart of Africa.
He said the winner will go away with a BMW car and another one will be given out to the lucky voter.
On the contest, he said they were impressed with the overwhelming support from various stakeholders.
"The response is very impressive. We are receiving feedback from all corners of the country. And we are very glad that Malawians have received this initiative well," he said.
He said they have finally identified 72 girls after conducting vigorous auditions in all the three regions of the country and that they will trim the figure to 24 through public voting.
Currently Malawians are voting for their favourite beauty queens to remain in the Miss Warm Heart of Africa race by texting to 55111 through TNM, Airtel and Access mobile numbers.
On the other hand, a set of 24 beauty queens has also made it into the Miss Malawi 2011 finale after a rigorous screening process in all the corners of the country.
Kamanga disclosed preparations were going on well, saying his organisation was proud with the caliber of girls identified.
"All of them have the embodiment of beauty. In addition to this, in Malawian culture a beautiful woman must also prove her ability to interact with people at all levels and have feelings for the needy," he said.
Kamanga said they seriously intend to send the winner to next year's Miss World hence the need for the winner to have a combination of both beauty and brains.
"Miss Malawi, as the country's beauty, automatically becomes the nation's tourism Ambassador making it necessary for the one crowned to identify with the people of Malawi," he said.
Girls participating in both pageants have been drawn from across the country. They are of different backgrounds from career girls to university students in various disciplines. They were selected on the basis of their level of education, integrity, confidence, body structure, height, communication skills and the way they carried themselves on the catwalk.
A few months ago, Miss Warm Heart of Africa was operating under the same roof with Miss Malawi but they separated after disagreeing over the mode of choosing the winner.
As the sponsor of the BMW to the winner, Minema Gaming, opted for voting method but their decision was hugely rebuffed by Artistic Agency saying beauty is not only measured by physical appearance alone but also by the level of confidence, intelligence and catwalk.
Artistic Agency argued that the right winner cannot be selected through voting only but through a panel of judges who can choose the best, prompting Minena Gaming to pull out of the deal and take away their BMW.