Miss Namibia 2018 – Selma Kamanya
As I prepare to hand over the Miss Namibia crown to my successor on the 7th of July 2019, I thought this is a great time to recap on my year of reign for all future Miss Namibia queens.
Looking back, I will not forget my time as Namibia’s ambassador of influence both on national and global platforms I was blessed to be part of. It will not benefit our growth and development if I do not share my experience and challenges that were part of this journey.
After saying this, let me share a few highlights.
The crown accorded me the opportunity to use my sphere of influence to preach the gospel of mental health to many young Namibians on many platforms. I was able to visit several schools and use my voice as a positive influence on students to focus on the building of a beautiful country and nation. It was important to share the importance of not only focusing on what may be broken in our society as much as we need to focus on how we fix it. What role each of us can play to contribute toward the solutions that our country relies on us both young and old.
I must hasten to say that I might not be able to touch on all points with regards to mental health that formed a crucial part in the year of my reign. However, this has been a part that has been immensely difficult for me to speak about, even though it is my national project, this is so because I have been struggling with it myself.
Within this context, the past year has been challenging and served as an extreme platform for character building. However, I’m forever grateful for this country’s support, well wishes and messages of encouragement. For without them, I might have considered voluntarily giving back the crown.
Don’t get me wrong because there are wonderful privileges awarded to me in my capacity as Miss Namibia but the trials and tribulations I had to deal with internally, with the Miss Namibia Beauty pageant as an organisation far from the limelight of the event, compromised my view of what a “wonderful” experience the year of reign could have been.
The challenges experienced as a result propelled me into a state of anxiety, mental instability, and sometimes, depression.
To give context to the above statement, I will attempt to break down these challenges:
- I have found that I had little to no support from the institution of Miss Namibia Beauty Pageant. This was particularly challenging because the institution holds authority over how a Miss Namibia may appear in what manner aligned with a number of the terms and conditions that Miss Namibia is subjected to.
- FINANCIAL MATTERS
In my year of reign, my spending of personal funds quadrupled as I found out that as Miss Namibia I had to cover much of the expenses from personal funds. The impact of this was felt most severely by my parents, who had to sustain me continually.
Bluntly speaking, there was no real monetary reward or otherwise for becoming an ambassador for Namibia through this platform, despite the many sacrifices one has to make for the benefit of the title. These difficult circumstances are sadly also not communicated or shared with contestants before or during the process. It only comes as a rude awakening after the crowning. As far as I know NDTC as main sponsor gave N$ 300,000 towards the pageant. I received N$ 18,000 cash prize, broken down as N$ 10,000 from NDTC, N$ 4,000 from Standard Bank as well as N$ 4,000 from Emanya@Etosha. Of this sum, I only received the first N$ 8,000 after numerous requests, including pleadings by my mother. I have since visited sponsors that have informed that they have given cash prizes to the pageant, of which I know nothing about.
Additionally, little provision is made to keep Miss Namibia looking at her best as an ambassador of the country in her own right. This resulted in the accumulation of excessive designer debts to keep up with the “glamorous” lifestyle. I have even heard former Miss Namibia queens indicating that they were financially worse off after being crowned.
To further complicate matters, the Pageant Institution charges an occasional appearance fee. However, this fee is again shared between the organisation and Miss Namibia. All of these are stipulated in the contract.
This has diminished my trust of the institution having the best interest of the titleholder as various other sponsors and donations are not shared.
- PARTICIPATION IN GLOBAL PAGEANTS (MISS UNIVERSE)
For my preparation of the Miss Universe title as a participant, one is expected to have a wardrobe of at least 35-39 different outfits complete with accessories, shoes, and jewellery. A budget of N$ 20,000 was made available for everything. As you can imagine this was barely enough for the cost of ten outfits.
Considering the fact that it is an international pageant, and as a participant, one is representing your country. Please note I do not spit on the opportunity that I had, however, I believe that by sharing these details may bring about change and improvement for all future Miss Namibia queens.
I cannot thank my parents and the Innonation Foundation Trust enough for the N$ 50,000 they provided to cater for the glaring shortcomings. However, while I was privileged to have a supportive family, this may not be the case for most Miss Namibia queens since some may come from challenging social and economic backgrounds. They may be perceived as having failed because their social standing may limit their ability to project the image desired and expected of a national beauty symbol.
As a result, my experience was far from glamorous. I had to dress, for ALL appearances, and this was taxing on my pocket, well as that of my parents’. It’s important to note that these are serious challenges, particularly for a student as I was at the time. To compound matters, I received a vehicle on loan as a prize. However, with no one to cater for fuel costs, this increased my day to day spending just to represent my country I dearly love.
With regret, I received little to no support during my preparation for the Miss Universe Pageant from the pageant. Leading up to my departure, all I recall receiving is a quick casual “good luck. We’ll be watching” from the organization.
The farewell meant to be filmed was canned because Mrs Maritz’ was unavailable. There was also failure to respond in time for the event to proceed. I believe this would have added to the drive to make Namibians proud again in their Miss Namibia and to rally behind her.
Unlike most countries at such pageants, Namibia is only represented by her beauty queen with no team to assist with the rigorous schedule and obligations that would enable Miss Namibia to stand a real chance of grabbing the crown for a second time. This often leaves Miss Namibia poorly prepared, poorly resourced and under tremendous pressure.
I wish to thank the NDTC as the primary sponsor for their hands-on involvement to assist in the areas of social media, personal branding, interview training and ramp training. The cross-functional team set up represented by various fashion, branding, and grooming young experts was most helpful. I do regret that this team was shot down before they could make a meaningful impact and give me the assistance that I so desperately needed. I believe that this assistance, coupled with the limited training offered through the South African based trainer, could have added significant value to the experience and could have assisted me, but it left me feeling as if I was going to such an important event with a blank page. With no insight, no information apart from what you read on the internet, I felt sabotaged and felt like I was prepared to fail.
I was depressed during and severely depressed after the competition. My mind was filled with “what ifs”. What if I was better prepared and taken more seriously nationally?
- MY VIEWS & EXPERIENCE WITH THE MISS NAMIBIA ORGANISATION
I was traumatised when those who were entrusted with my wellbeing as Miss Namibia often shared derogatory remarks and insults with sponsors and their contacts. I found this to be the case, especially with the temporary programme manager. My image and reputation were always being tainted if I had done something wrong (missed an appointment etc).
Such slanderous comments were shared indiscriminately even with the 2019 contestants. The slanderous statements have weighed heavily on my heart and tainted my experience as Miss Namibia. They made me realise that the organisation lacked respect for me as the reigning Miss Namibia.
This greatly saddened me as I held both the pageant and the organisation in high regard.
Miss Namibia is registered as a Closed Corporation. This means that even though this business represents Namibia on international platforms, it is managed in a manner that the organisers find befitting. This sadly leaves room for abuse of the winners as well as the public funds channelled to the event under the guise of nation-building.
As a result, a significant burden is placed on the winner to uphold the national reputation of the pageant with little to no help from the organisers. This burden is coupled with severe limitations that often interfere with one’s rights and above all other commitments, such as in my case, being a student.
Most of Miss Namibia’s will narrate to you the displeasure of working with the social media content manager, due to her inappropriate and unprofessional manner in which she would address one or interact with one. One of the incidents that had occurred is her removing me as administration on all Miss Namibia social media platforms, as well as removing my profile photo’s, after she has asked me to post on these pages while we had agreed that she would be the one to do it. While most bear it, I genuinely believe this cannot be in the interest of Miss Namibia on whose shoulder rests the responsibility of influencing the youth positively, when she is being torn apart by those tasked with protecting her.
In conclusion, what’s done is done. However, and I’m not mad and bitter, I am more so hurt. Mrs Maritz is a lovely lady, and I’m forever grateful to her for the opportunity she has given me. She has been very kind to me throughout this journey, unlike the other counterparts of the organization, namely the Social Media Manager as well as the Events Manager. However, I do want to encourage her to seek change and improve on a number of things that can enhance the Miss Namibia experience and above all the country’s opportunity as a global contender in beauty pageantry.
This is my experience, raw and unfiltered.
So I do wish to categorically state with clarity, that this disclosure is not meant as defamatory, but it aims to share my true journey during the term of my reign. I hope that this naked truth will offer some pearls of wisdom and urgent change so that future Miss Namibia’s can genuinely harness the strength, of what this role can offer them and the country.
To the incoming Miss Namibia, I urge you to strengthen yourself from the inside, because while the title offers glitz and glam it will provide significant challenges, and it will require your inner strength to mitigate through them.
I would encourage Mrs Maritz to avail the public funds invested in this pageant and its proportion to what a Miss Namibia would be entitled to a winner. This information should be public as it was many years ago. This goes along with transparency because the silos in which it is currently handled diminishes the trust of the pageant on many fronts.
I thank you