27 June 2019

Namibia: No Glitter in Miss Namibia Crown

Former Miss Namibia pageant winners have come out in support of 2018 reigning queen Selma Kamanya, who claimed she received no financial support during her reign.

Kamanya issued a damning statement against the pageant's organisers yesterday, saying they had largely been unsupportive.

The 22-year-old claimed she had to spend her own funds to carry out her Miss Namibia duties, which became financially exhausting for herself and her family.

"This resulted in the accumulation of excessive designer debts to keep up with the 'glamorous' lifestyle," she said.

Kamanya added that she could have done much better during the Miss Universe pageant held in Bangkok, Thailand, last year.

"The farewell that was meant to be filmed was canned because the director of Miss Namibia, Conny Maritz, was unavailable. I had the feeling 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 I was set up to fail. I was depressed during and severely depressed after the competition," she stressed.

Kamanya said she was furthermore upset about the fact that Namibia is only represented by the reigning beauty queen, with no team to assist her, unlike contestants from other countries.

She added that more support would enable a reigning Miss Namibia to stand a real chance of grabbing the crown for a second time, after Michelle McLean in 1992.

Contacted for comment, Kamanya told The Namibian she stated all her concerns in the letter.

She is not the only former beauty queen to raise such concerns. Former winners said they were financially worse off after being crowned.

Miss Namibia 2016, Lizelle Esterhuizen, told The Namibian yesterday that she had a make-up sponsor but no training.

"I did my own make-up, and later got training from a South African artist. No training was given. It made me feel unprepared," she stated.

Esterhuizen added that she had nothing to wear to the events she was expected to attend to represent the country.

"It was difficult, as I always had to look my best. I did not have funds, but always had to be seen in public. I felt like I needed help. I got a lot of my ideas [from the internet] as I did not have a stylist. I later got some of my outfits from Casper Bosman, a South African designer, who also did my wardrobe for Miss Universe," she noted.

Miss Namibia 2017, Suné January, said she regrets the day she entered the contest, adding that she had a much better life as a student in India.

"I experienced humiliation. There is no team. They treat you like the enemy. I felt like an outsider at first," she said.

January said the night after she was crowned, she was hit with the harsh reality.

"I was told that the pageant does not have money. My family helped me financially. I lived at Rehoboth, and had to be in Windhoek almost every day. One can only imagine the debt. We as winners are constantly asked to handle certain charity projects when we are charity cases ourselves," she lamented.

Odile Gertze, who was crowned in 2010, said things were a little different during her reign as in that year, there were a few sponsors on board, including for fuel and clothes. She added that despite this, her family still needed to contribute financially, and that "they were financially strained afterwards."

Gertze said she was proud of Kamanya for speaking out.

"I am sure many of the former winners also experienced similar incidents. Her speaking out does not mean she wants to destroy the reputation of the national pageant. I believe she spoke out with the intention to help better the pageant," she added.

Contacted for comment, Maritz said they will issue a press statement about the matter at a later stage.

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