The charming, Mrs. Barbara Mzembi, graciously welcomed Harare Magazine into her home to discuss Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) and their important projects that support and benefit the Girl Child.
Mrs. Mzembi and her team are incredibly busy with so many worthy causes, and these efforts must be applauded. Zimbabwe is so fortunate to have women like Barbara Mzembi who are championing the rights of young girls through beauty and etiquette.
Harare Magazine (HM): What is the mission of the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe Trust?
Barbara Mzembi (BM): We at MTZ pride ourselves in being the most popular, trusted and respected beauty pageant in Zimbabwe. The trust is there to support the Girl Child in many different areas. The beauty pageant itself aims to promote all the girls who participate in the pageant, not just the winners. MTZ’s mission is to be the “dream” for every Zimbabwean girl. Our concept in MTZ is that we do not have height nor weight requirements; we look for qualifications, charisma and character. We are not bound to international pageants requirements. We believe in finding an ambassador, not a model, for the tourism industry and the Brand Zimbabwe at large. We practice transparency, honesty and love and devotion to the Girl Child and Zimbabwe. Our vision is to become a continental pageant where Zimbabwe can host all Africa’s beauties to market and celebrate tourism destinations. Africans must tour more African.
HM: What projects is MTZ involved in to benefit the Girl Child?
BM: We run a variety of projects that benefit the Girl Child. Currently, we have four centres where I have personally donated sewing machines. Girls and young people interested in design can come to these centres and learn to make a living through sewing. We strongly believe that the independence of earning a living can benefit young girls immensely. In fact, it can even prevent early child marriages. Another important project evolved when we learned that in peri-urban and rural areas, 90% of the girls were missing a week of school per month because they did not have access to sanitary pads. MTZ in our capacity and resources has donated sanitary pads to some of the schools. We have begun a campaign of our own in support of this noble cause, and will be expanding our outreach through the “$1 Campaign”. In this campaign, we will be asking every citizen to donate just one dollar towards this objective. As you can see, MTZ is not just about beauty; it is a beauty pageant with goals and strong principles. The winner of the pageant will have a great deal of social responsibilities and duties to fulfill.
HM: What gave you the idea to become an etiquette and image coach?
BM: I am from Cuba and in the islands we have ethics and images that are very different and particular to an island culture. When I became the wife of a minister, I was expected to attend functions, host dinner parties and cocktail parties and I quickly realised the importance of correct etiquette and social skills. I am a perfectionist, and undertook several courses in etiquette in many different countries. I then began creating my own assessments in terms of protocol and ethics that are internationally accepted. I have benefitted from my wide exposure, and decided that I should share my knowledge. Today, I coach teenagers for upcoming job and college interviews. I coach men and women on how having a good image, good manners and proper etiquette can actually change your fortune. Then I developed another program for business professionals. According to a study done by Kessler International, USA, only 15% of professional success is attributed to technical knowledge. 85% of success is attributed to social skills! So, yes, etiquette and image matter very much. These are the polish that makes profit.
HM: What can we expect from the Miss Tourism Zimbabwe pageant this year?
BM: We are now at an advanced stage with our exciting preparations. Our social media platform is very active, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our website. We have an MTZ App in the Google store and we will be in the Apple Store soon! We are proud to say that we are the very first pageant in Zimbabwe with an app. The boot camp will be in November, followed by the finale on the 9th of December. As you know, we are different from the others, and our tickets will soon be on sale at extremely reasonable prices, starting at $5 per seat. We will have a VIP section and a fabulous red carpet; we will have two international judges and local and international artists for entertainment. The pageant will be again a show to enjoy.
For more information, visit www.miss-tourism.org.zw
Interview by Ann Beattie
Photography by Denzel Alpha