At exactly 12pm Friday, the jam packed and beautifully decorated Njamba room of Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre went up in cheers as judge Limbani Kalilani popularly known as Tay Grin announced that M9 was the 2011 Malawi News Model of the year.
The model, with the tag M9 was 22-year old Thoko Kamanga who mesmerised the impressive audience of 500 plus from the time the show kicked off to the end.
She was crowned queen taking over from the outgoing Gladys Kumbatira during the red carpet event.
The newly crowned Model of the Year, dressed by renowned designer Cathy Kamthunzi, outclassed 11 other contestants after parading in such categories like sports, traditional and evening wears as well as answering questions from the judges.
The Polytechnic student currently pursuing Business Management who is slightly slim and tall, could not hide her excitement for being crowned queen. She shed tears of joy.
"This was my first time to participate in such a pageant and I must say it here that I didn't expect it because all the contestants were good. I just want to say thank you to God for giving me the courage," she said.
As a winner, Kamanga whose role model is international model Tyra Banks, received several prizes including:
--an air ticket to travel to Tanzania, --K150,000 from Times Group for charity projects,
---a complimentary policy known as Thandizo from Smile Insurance Company worth half a million kwachas for the next five years
---and 15 purses from designer Chiccu Gondwe to be used for the girl child rights causes.
Daisy Chilemba, 21 years old, who was among the top five, was voted the Miss Personality and is expected to accompany Kamanga to Tanzania.
The second princess is 18-year old Peggy Mwanguku currently studying Journalism at Click Institute of Technology with 23-year old Tadala Itaye who is working at Malawi National Lottery as the first princess.
The two took over from Dorothy Kamoto and Lorato Chalimba respectively.
Mwanguku received K75,000 and an air ticket to Lilongwe while Itaye received K100,000 and an air ticket to Zambia.
The second princess said this didn't come as a surprise to her as she expected although she wanted the hot seat.
"I had confidence throughout so I knew I would get something, all the contestants were good tonight and I am happy for the winner, she deserved it. I also would like to call upon girls out there to take up modelling," she said.
Itaye, who seems experienced in pageantry as she was also first princess during Miss Poly and won the Miss Harare Junior, said she was looking forward to winning the crown one day.
"I will keep on working hard and this has just given me confidence that I can do more and I am satisfied with what I got tonight," she said.
This year's theme for this red carpet event was 'Create, nurture and transform the girl child in Malawi,' hence the top five models had to answer questions on cervical cancer, kids cancer, going green, child rights, violence against women and animal rights.
The event was spiced up by music performances from Rina, Renegade, Elements Dance Crew who were equally fantastic on the night with their dancing antics, Nthumwi Piksy whose hit 'Mata,' saw guest of honour Jessie Kabwila Kapasula taking to the dance floor and the dreadlocked BlakJak, real name Fatsani Kalonda, who is on the limelight with his hit 'Wadya Iwe.'
There was also a performance from Nasira who gave the audience memories of US singer Whitney Houston who died recently.
Nasira produced a sweet voice reminiscent of that of Whitney dishing her songs including the popular 'I Will Always Love You.'
DJs Khumbo and Malick also entertained the audience with different vibes, mixing and fixing on the turntables.
Other models who participated in the event were Tusekile Ippey Mwalwanda, 18, Temwanani Ngwira, 23, Elisha Tembo, 19, Jacqueline Thomson,19, Towera Lallubhai,19, Tamaryl Justine Mbewe, 18, Natasha Kalinga,18, and Niffat Lokosang, 23.
The Malawi News Model, sponsored by the Times Group which also publishes the Daily Times, Weekend Times and Sunday Times, started as a small event on January 21, 2005 and has grown to become an important social event which has helped to uplift the modelling career.
The girls who have won the crown in the past are Bettina Chimwaza (2005), Evelyn Kamtwanje(2006), Monase Nyirongo(2007), Chibale(2008), Tina Kendricks(2009) and Kumbatira(2010).
The 2011 judges were Multi-choice Malawi's marketing manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda, Dzuka Publishing LTD's Maureen Masamba, Veronica Curtis and Linda Phoya.
Some of the companies that sponsored the event include NBS Bank, Victory Beauty and Hair Dressing School, Marmoran, Mapeto, Goldcard Lodge, Casamia, Smile Insurance, Pasquecy, Kips, Steers, Mtonga B, Sunbird and Times Group.