8 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Ugly Men, It's Our Time to Shine

Photo: The Herald
Winner of 2012 'Mr Ugly', William Masvinu.

In the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, no sun sets without its own histories. Even ugliness becomes a brand with its own stories for night talk. Here, the grey haired say, a person who stammers would eventually say "father".

It might be delayed, but the word will eventually come out. So it is never too late!

The village soothsayer, the ageless autochthon of knowledge and wisdom says the world is a shallow place and there is no denying it. We are all so busy fawning over handsome guys and beautiful women that sometimes we forget about the ugly.

Harare, the city of a forever madding crowd, last weekend came up with yet another anecdote, about its ugliest man and indeed, our newspapers -- for long bereft of good exciting human interest copy -- ran full throttle.

The organisers were looking for a man, very, very ugly and with some face that conjures fear in children and make them scamper for cover or hide behind pillows. It must have been a spectacle!

This villager is told the organisers of Mr Ugly were looking for a truculent wonder -- very unattractive or unpleasant to look at, offensive to the sense of beauty and displeasing in appearance and indeed they found him.

The man -- William Masvinu -- a beastly figure, gifted with a furrowed forehead, a pugnacious face and a big nose that straddles both cheeks and squats on the face like a bullfrog, dotted dead pimples, chickenpox potholes and rough, wire-brush hair emerged the proud winner.

Masvinu has become a celebrity overnight after being crowned Mr Ugly, Harare. He even beat another man who shed tears!

If God created man in his image, he must both be handsome and ugly, so it helps.

This villager understands that Masvinu is a bitter man, for, it is quite some unfortunate oeuvre to be ugly and sad, and to be famous without fortune. The combination is disastrous.

But the full import of this instalment is that Mr Ugly who hails from some village in Gutu, Masvingo and is now ordinarily resident in poverty-stricken Epworth must know that in the village, a tethered goat never grazes beyond the radius of the sisal rope that leashes it.

It is this tolerance for states of life close to zero that keeps the goat going and hoping for the better.

This innocent rhetoric from this domain of socio-moral idiosyncrasy at once appears much less innocent when one grasps which tendency is here draping the mantle of sublime words about life.

Mr Ugly must be helped to make money from his condition in the same manner our beauty queens have been helped to make money. Our beauty queens are driving top-of-the-range cars and living large.

But Mr Ugly doubles up as a street porter and tout at Mbare Msika, carrying luggage on his head in a typical tale of two worlds. Just look at Vanessa Sibanda.

It is squarely comparing those smooth cheeks, the cultured smiles, the pencil slim and sleek bodies of the queens to the muscular, rugged and contoured face, the beastly looks, the blood shot eyes, dry thick lips and the stray looks of Mr Ugly. So do the pockets and the lifestyles differ. So do the residential areas.

Mr Ugly should build a brand around his condition and this villager thinks he can be a tourist attraction. In fact he is already one.

The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, famed for its rebranding process can rebrand Mr Ugly and turn him into a security officer or doorman. Blazio Kasawala, the ZTA loss control manager could actually find a real worker. They can even find him something to do for, his condition is God given.

Mr Ugly could also do with lucrative endorsements by fashion designers, blue chip companies as well as advertising agencies. Who said clothes don't fit the ugly and besides there are too many ugly business executives who are saved by their pockets.

"I am expecting to benefit a lot from being Mr Ugly and I hope that this will go a long way in improving my lifestyle. I won US$100 plus a voucher to spend a night with my wife at a hotel in Harare, but this is not enough," laments Mr Ugly.

In the village, even the ugliest of all men does marry and the wife could be the most outstanding village beauty.

The face is nothing to show for life than the heart and the depth of character. It is not new, hence the popular Thomas Mapfumo song Mwana Akanyengwa (Lion Of Zimbabwe album 1997).

Mwana akanyengwa neriya dema

Mwana akanyengwa neriya dema,

nhasi achanyara kumira naro!

To which the bride answers, sweetly . . .

Ndiye murume, ndiye murume wandinaye

Ndiye murume wandapihwa nemidzimu

Kuipa chete, kuipa chete haukuna mhosva

Musamuseke, musamuseke, vasikana

Kuipa chete, kuipa chete hakuna mhosva!

What makes Mr Ugly, Harare's story quite a mouthful is that he dropped out of school in Grade Three after the death of his parents. That means he is an epitome of poverty and even though he likes his looks- which is a plus to him- poverty has stalked him day and night.

"I am happy with my looks and I think it is a gift from God. I'm proud of my looks and I was created in God's image. But maybe because I am ugly, wherever I go looking for a job they say, hapana basa," he laments.

But this villager has other ideas. How about making him a strong brand ambassador advertising pesticides, killing those insects?

How about heavy construction equipment and machinery like the front end loaders?

Being uneducated, unemployed, poor, orphaned and ugly is a buffet meal for trouble. It is a free cocktail.

Whoever sees mucus in the nose of the king is the one who cleans it. This villager meant to clean this one.

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