CREATING A PLATFORM FOR CHRISTIAN MODELS
Better known as Miss Malaika because of clinching the title in 2005 Vehae Tjiriange is still making a name for herself, not as a model but as the brains behind the Queen Esther International Beauty Pageant.
She also attracted attention during her modelling days by standing her ground and refusing to parade in swimwear and now wants all Christian women to follow suit. Daniel Chida brings you this interview with the young grounded woman who like most ladies says her age is her best kept secret.
Q. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a Christian Herero woman with a younger sister called Tunguee, I run an organisation called Queen Esther International Pageant. I am its founder and president People know me better as the winner of Miss Malaika pageant in 2005 and First Princess at Miss Global International Beauty pageant in 2007 in Jamaica. I am no longer doing modelling because I think I have outgrown it and should provide platform for other upcoming youth who want to take part in it.
Q. How much was the price money for the two pageants you won?
I got P30 000 at Miss Malaika and US$10 000 at Miss Global International.
Q. What did you do with it?
I gave some to my parents, invested in my business and also sponsored myself to further my education in South Africa in courses related to Arts.
Q. As a former model who happens to be a Christian, how did you deal with some of the clothes that you had to put on in pageants?
When I started modelling I was already mature and I had to be bold in some of the decisions that I took. I had told myself that I was not going to expose my body in swim suits and I did just that. You have to know that the more exposure the more the pay even bad publicity does work for others. Majority of youth do not have principles and can do as told not as they wish.
Q. What did your agency say then?
They just did what I wanted because they saw that I had the potential to make it without exposing much of my flesh. I was also a bit stressed because I was rejected by many agencies but I had to stick to my principles.
Q. Since then you have not been on the spotlight, what have you been doing?
It is not that I’m no longer on the spotlight but I do more of the background duties as the president of the organisation and give youth chances of being on the spotlight.
Q. What is Miss Queen Esther Pageant?
It is a platform for born again Christian ladies to contest in a beauty pageant that upholds godly values. The pageant is a celebration and the ultimate expression of true beauty, intelligence and integrity. It is a search for the most inwardly and outwardly beautiful and talented young woman who displays a Christian character and is a good role model for this generation.Young people need role models who display the fear of God and have grown into skilled, educated, articulate and productive members of society. The selected queen would be positioned to share Christian values which uphold morality of the society. She would also be expected to act as an ambassador at national and international forums.
Q. When did you start this kind of beauty pageant?
I started it in 2008 while based in South Africa and its launch was done there but because of family commitments I was forced to relocated to Botswana and I held the first pageant at Gaborone Sun in 2010. I also have Esther models, Queen Esther Magazine which comes out after every three months, Esther club and Show.
Q. Why the name Queen Esther?
When we first imagined the Queen Esther Beauty Pageant, we imagined a signature event that would grow to be part of the global event. This is an event born out of a beauty pageant that took place in the book of Esther in the Bible, where Esther was crowned the Queen.
Q. What are the aims and objectives of the pageant?
The focus of the pageant is to draw attention to the realities of Aids and poverty and the plight of: orphans, widows, abused women, immigrants and promoting tourism. We are making a positive difference, serving and saving our generation. Since Queen Esther Beauty Pageant is a conservative pageant, appropriate attire will be required for all segments. There will be no swim suit round and the contestants will be expected to behave in a manner befitting the title.
Q. Looking at the dress code or restrictions that comes with the pageant how was the response from the public in the past events?
The response has been overwhelming; the Christian community was very impressed with it unlike where contestants are semi-naked.
Q. In most cases people who attend pageants especially men go there to see women’s flesh and it is different with your pageant, what is it that you are doing to attract more spectators?
We are promoting lifestyle of discipline at the same time trying to show youngsters that they can make it in modelling industry without exposing themselves and being sober. We should change people’s mindset for the future generation.
Q. As someone who has been in the modelling industry for some time, what is your message to upcoming youth who want to take up modelling as a career?
I always tell them about the importance of having principles; you have to know what you want. I also encourage them to have a back –up plan in case things do not go as planned and education is the best option.
Q. Well established models do have a bad history with drugs and multi partners, how did you manage to stay grounded?
There is pressure and bad influence in this industry but I managed not to get tempted because of my beliefs as a Christian.
Q. Past pageants in Botswana have been marred with controversy of sexual favours, cheating, and ill-treatment, are we not going to hear of such things after the pageant?
Competition is a challenge and all take part to win. We try to work with all contestants. We do have a vision of grooming them to be good public speakers and have inner beauty. With all the training events in our boot camps they become better people and accept defeat.
Q. As a Christian some people or your followers may like to know how you spend time.
I do work a lot but I do spare some energy for my friends too. I also read a lot including the Bible.
Q. What is your message to the nation at large?
I urge people to come to our beauty pageant which will be held on the 24th of November at Cresta Rileys Hotel in Maun. Tickets for the show are available at the same hotel and at Delta Dental Clinic at P30. There will be entertainment from Dread X of Poet Okavango, Lady G, Tshego and Rigiers. Next year we will have more than 50 countries taking part and already 20 have confirmed their presence. We will have contestants from as far as United Kingdom and US.
Full Names: Vehae Tjiriange
Date of Birth: Confidential
Place of Birth: Maun
Marital Status: Single
Favourite Food: Seswaa (goat) and Samp with beans
Holiday Destination: Our cattle post in Mokgalong
Role Model: Many but will single out Jesus Christ
Car driving: Nissan March