Paulina Malulu is the first ever delegate from Namibia to grace the Miss International pageant. Last October 21st, she accomplished an impressive Top 15 placement from a line-up of 69 equally beautiful delegates from all over the world. The annual pageant was concluded at the Budokan Hall in Okinawa, Japan, with the host delegate, Ikumi Yoshimatsu of Japan, clinching the title.
Paulina’s interest in modelling and pageantry began in 2000 when she was crowned first princess at her primary school, People’s Primary School. In 2010, she took part in Miss National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC) where she was crowned as the overall winner.
On the first of January 2011, Paulina Malulu was crowned Miss Palm 2011 and even after her reign as Miss NYC is over, Paulina remains active with the Miss National Youth Council as a volunteer and mentor for the reigning beauties. While remaining interested in youth matters, in April she was nominated by UNAIDS to represent Namibia in Mali at the Global Aids Summit in Bamako, Mali, West Africa.
With her Miss Palm title, she was able to represent Namibia at the Miss Southern Africa International Beauty contest which was held in Ndola, Zambia, June 2011 where she emerged as Southern Africa’s first princess. With this new title she travelled to Kosova in November to represent Namibia and Africa at large, at the Miss Freedom of the World beauty pageant where she emerged as Miss Bikini and top 10.
During the course of the Miss International pageant, fans from all over the world have laid eyes on Paulina as Africa's strongest bet for the crown. Although she did not win the title, her fans and followers were proud of her achievement. Here is an excerpt of an e-mail interview with Paulina about the pageant activities, fellow contestants and the pageant night.
"I enjoyed the activities, especially when we were not doing them in groups. I could then interact with other delegates and simply have fun.
I am aware that each activity served its own individual purpose. But I do however feel that we could have engaged in more local activities and get to know the real people of Okinawa and Japan. I was looking forward to seeing the biggest aquarium in the world which is found in Okinawa. More outdoor activities would have been superb.
I did not like that the program changed every day. We also had so much free time in the beginning but time started getting squeezed that we did not have sufficient time to prepare ourselves well for the grand finale. I was disappointed that we did not have the chance to donate our national dolls and explain their significance. I was also disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to auction or national gifts.
I liked that the talent performance was done in venue variation and not specialized. This I believe opened up more social inclusion with the people engaged and was more fun and not limited to one audience but variation.
I personally enjoyed the traditional food but many other contestants did not. So it would have been nice to recognize that we are all international and as fun as it is to try out new things, it can also be unsatisfying.
Being an aspiring entrepreneur, I personally liked visiting Miyako Island’s salt factory. I have already started using the gift pack.
But the hospitality for all the activities was amazing. Japanese people are such humble people, adorable and cuddly. Yes cuddly! I already miss the special treatment, the respect. I would revisit Japan just for the people. Do more sightseeing and even visit tourist attractions."
FRIENDSHIP AND CAMARADERIE
"I have personally fostered many great lasting relationships particularly with the girls in my group. All in all, I also believe that being grouped really limited fostering even more relationships and interacting with other young women who have the same personalities like me.
I personally have tried to grip how we were grouped but have failed to truly understand that concept which I feel failed most of us from building continental and cross language relationships and apart from being grouped according to these “specifications”. This also affected media publicity because the same groups were usually placed at the front for group pictures. Thus limiting exposure of all contestants and exposing some level of favoritism.
But like a Polaroid picture, I have gained many frozen memories. I have had the opportunity to share, shift and engage. I learned how to interact and my knowledge on the world map has definitely improved."
THE PAGEANT NIGHT
- Apart from being long, I enjoyed it but the waiting on final results was torturous.
- The makeup artists were amazing. I loved the hair stylists; they all wanted to touch my hair (giggles).
- We were blessed with an amazing choreographer who made the night worthwhile. I personally loved all three scenes. The opening was very pageantry, very diva. The swim wear was fun, sexy and the evening wear was slow, elegant. I personally loved the opening song.
- However, snacks throughout the pageant finale would have been nice because we needed the energy.
- I liked that we received support when we had to dress up. It really helped save time.
- As for the top 15 question, it would have been nice if we had received a direct question then maybe some of us could have performed better.
- I was blessed to make it to the top 15. I might not have won the crown but I won many hearts. I made my family, my country, my region, Africa and the world at large proud. I received so much positive feedback, so much encouragement.
- I hope that my placement will open up more doors for global integration despite our geographical differences in order to promote more country participation. Because I believe that only when that challenge is overcome will the Miss International pageant really become accessible and be able to enjoy the publicity of its goodwill work like any other prestigious pageant.
I think that the Miss International Pageant really needs to make its results public so that people can see how we are scored throughout the entire pageant and on the final night. It would also be beneficial if the judges are varied in all senses of gender; occupation, nationality, race. In order for the pageant to really show relevance it also need to show transparency.
ALL IN ALL: They (Miss International Organization) really need to start considering geographical setting in all areas if they want the recognition and support they deserve, because even smaller pageants now have more country entries. They need a fixed plan on vision, mission, and goals. An action plan that targets different areas and will restructure the Miss International Pageant, because the world is evolving every day.
And they need to be more practical with activities of the winners after being crowned. And even having other delegates participate will not only promote the social inclusion of the winner but promote and or sell the pageant to other countries. This pageant has so much potential.
I am grateful for the opportunity and will definitely continue to improve myself through these experiences and opportunities. I might not have won the crown but I will continue to serve as a beauty ambassador locally and internationally.
Editor's Note: Paulina works for the Dingi Community Programme (DCP). This program aims to unify and celebrate the talents of beauty queens as they network, share ideas and establish activities that will enhance their place and highlight their important roles in society.
(Below pic: With the editor, Stephen Diaz)