In the pageantry world, the word drought refers not to climatic phenomenon manifested by unusually long periods of deficiency of water whether on the surface or underground. Rather, it refers to the long period where a country failed to land at the semis of a Big4 Pageant. The drought phenomenon in the context of pageantry is an amusing topic to discuss. The interest lies on the issue as to how that drought was successfully ended - was it the perfect contestant, a change in National Director, or some changes in political situation? Whatever the answer will be, the year 2012 had its share of Mpule or well in plural form, Mpules.
Mpule? Well, Mpule is a name that pageant watchers knew by heart. As Miss Universe 1999, Mpule Kwelagobe became her country's first ever Miss Universe contestant and she eventually won the crown. It's like a Batswana drought cured in an instant and what is the remedy for a drought? Why, rain of course! And Mpule is a fitting drought-ender. Her name is derived from the Setswana word meaning "the one who comes with the rain" and her mother chose it because it was raining when Mpule was born. And thus, whoever brings a drought to an end is the one who comes with rain, ergo, an Mpule.
Drought-enders are not just beautiful women who put their country back into the semifinals' map after a long time. They are also the ones who became their country’s first ever semifinalist or the first ever representative that eventually landed on the semis. The last definition describes best Anadie Azael, Paulina Malulu, and Atong Demach.
Anadie Azael represented an earthquake/cyclone battered nation of Haiti. Despite claims and accusations that Miss International is a racist pageant, this did not deter Anadie to join the pageant. Her experience at Miss Universe 2011 certainly helped her a lot as she looked confident, more bubbly and at ease during the Miss International competition. Well in fact, Anadie was given the award and title of Miss JOICFP. The acronym JOICFP stands for Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning and is part of the charity and NGO arm of Miss International.
Paulina Malulu recalls that many people were surprised to see Namibia at Miss International. Most people think about Michelle Mclean when they see the Namibian sash but Paulina said, "I know that I might not have achieved what Michelle did, but I was doing my best to place another Namibian name on the international beauty pageant list."
She enjoyed the tag as the strongest candidate from Africa. Her experiences at the regional pageants in her continent boosted her confidence prior joining the Miss International pageant. Paulina's inclusion at the semis proved that Miss International is not a racist pageant. Paulina sees it as a significant milestone. In her post-pageant interview [CLICK HERE] she said, "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". Indeed, with Paulina, it seems Miss International could have changed the African opinion about the pageant.
Atong Demach comes from war-torn South Sudan and she is a proud representative of a nation borne from the struggle against tyranny and repression. Her memories of war allowed her to speak words laden with compassion and appeal for peace at Miss World contest. Well in fact, many pageant observers believed Atong gave the best answer at the final Q&A and thus should have won the crown.
Atong's first Big4 participation was in 2010 when she participated at Miss Earth contest held in Vietnam. She was unfortunately unplaced. Perhaps, like Anedie and Paulina, Atong learned a thing or two from her first international pageant allowing her to come out strongly at Miss World 2012 contest. She is South Sudan's first ever international beauty queen and what a great honor indeed for her and her country after she was bestowed the Continental Queen of Africa at Miss World 2012 post-finals party.
Another category of Mpules are the beauties that for the first time ever, their respective countries landed at the semis but it is not the first time that their countries joined the pageant. Miss Earth Germany Nel-Linda Zublewitz, Miss Earth Nepal Nagma Shrestha and Miss Earth Scotland Sara Pender all belong to this category.
Nel-Linda Zublewitz is a beautiful face with a body to die for. This is the compelling reason why she subdued the other much hyped delegates at Miss Earth 2012 contest. Nel-Linda is one of the runners-up at the Miss Germany contest - the oldest existing and the most prestigious beauty pageant in Germany. The winner of the Miss Germany contest does not compete internationally and Nel-Linda is the only German Big4 contestant in 2012 to come from the prestigious contest.
Nagma Shrestha is a surprise semifinalist but truly a deserving one. Prior to the finals, she showed her talents in various Miss Earth events winning two silvers from Walk with Miss Earth Campaign and a mural painting contest. Nagma represents the momentum that Nepal had when Shristi Shrestha fared well at Miss World 2012 contest. Actually Nagma is a runner-up to Shristi as Nepal is currently subscribing to the Big3 concept (the country's winners are sent to Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss International). Her Top 8 finish at Miss Earth 2012 contest is not just significant because she is the first Nepali to land at the semis of the pageant but also because this happend to be the highest placement of Nepal in any of the Big4 contest!
Sara Pender of Scotland wowed the judges with her tall figure, her blonde hair and that lovely green eyes. Her angelic beauty coupled with her shapely body ensured that she will be noticed at the pageant. Miss Earth in United Kingdom falls under one franchise holder but each country in the kingdom participates separately. Sara is the only British girl to make it to the semis of the pageant and there is no doubt that she cracked that ceiling for the Scottish girls. It would be great to see a Miss Scotland winning a Big4 crown soon!
The last and the most interesting category of Mpules are those women that “resurrected” their respective country at the Big4 Pageants. So far in 2012, two women from very notable countries gave their nations fresh hope. Poland and Turkey are two countries with a lot of potential and are homes of beautiful women. But for some reason, they never fared well at Miss Universe. While Poland bagged Miss International crowns and while Turkey had its first Miss World, their Miss Universe contestants were struggling just even to land at the semis.
Miss Universe Poland Marcelina Zawadzka ended the 23-year drought for her country at Miss Universe. The last placement that this Eastern European country had was in 1989 with Joanna Gapińska who finished as third runner-up. Poland faithfully sent delegates to the Miss Universe pageant during the drought period and many of them are top-notch delegate. To appreciate how Poland was snubbed at the pageant, consider this - on the same period, Polish beauties captured three Miss International crowns!
Thus breaking the drought indeed requires one heck of an Mpule. Marcelina lived up to the expectations. Not only she is beautiful but also she is tall and very confident. Her shapely body is simply mesmerizing. Miss Universe is indeed a tough nut to crack for Poland and it took the über-beauty Marcelina to accomplish the mission. In the pre-pageant interview with Missosology, Marcelina seems to have prepared herself well and her focus was undeniable. When asked why many Polish contestants failed at Miss Universe, she said, "I don’t want to assess my predecessors, I am going to do everything I can to show power of Polish woman and I am going to fight for a crown of Miss Universe". [View the whole interview CLICK HERE]
Çağıl Özge Özkul ended Turkey's 22-year drought but not without all the hardships. She revealed to Missosology how difficult was it to prepare herself mentally and physically for Miss Universe pageant. [READ THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW] A tall and sexy volleyball player, Çağıl is only the third Turkish woman who was able to make it to the semis of Miss Universe.
The last semifinalist before Çağıl is Jülide Ateş, who by the way is now a successful TV host in Turkey. During the period of drought, Turkey faithfully participated at Miss Universe every year with the exception of the years 2000 and 2007. In 2000, Turkey refused to participate at the pageant since it has an ongoing political conflict with the host country of Cyprus. In 2007, scheduling conflicts produced a national winner way too late and had to compete in 2008 edition instead. The failure of Turkey to be in the semis of Miss Universe in those years is quite perplexing. On the same period, Turkey had produced a semifinalist, a 3rd runner-up, a second runner-up and a winner at Miss World pageant.
Miss International Paraguay Nicole Huber also ended Paraguay's drought. This time at Miss International where the on and off relationship of her country to the pageant yielded only two semifinalists with the last one was way back in 1961. Nicole basically ended a 51-year drought! In short, she is the most accomplished among the Mpules this year taking into account the length of the drought that she managed to end. Interestingly, Nicole was a Top 30 finisher at Miss World 2011 and also a semifinalist at Miss Earth 2011. Her exposure to the other Big4 pageants helped her a lot. She not only ended her country's drought at Miss International but also managed to land as 4th runner-up - the best placement of Paraguay in the pageant.
Indeed, it is great to see some new countries getting into the semis of Big4 pageants. Hope that there will be more Mpules in this year. If Big4 Pageants will simply be dominated by the same countries over and over again, boredom will seep in. And even more interesting if those countries that showed strong performance in the early years will once again come back with a bang. Perhaps a comeback for Sweden or Finland or even Germany could materialize this year.
The year 2012 have shown that the Mpules have worked hard to break the drought of their country. Their accomplishments should serve as an inspiration to other countries that are suffering from long periods of pageantry drought. It is crucial that a National Organization should focus on the goal, prepare the delegate well mentally and physically and above all else never lose hope. For every country, surely there will always be an Mpule that will come along.