Although Erika Roshelle Kazombaruru (24) has not been in the limelight much when it comes to her modelling talent, she is among local hardworking models who have shown passion, dedication and growth in their careers to put Namibia on the map through pageantry.
The Swakopmund-based model, who made her breakthrough into the modelling arena in 2020, jets off to Japan this Saturday to represent the country at the 60th edition of the Miss International 2022 beauty pageant.
The pageant is one of the biggest in the world, compared to Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss Supranational and Miss Earth.
The grand finale of the pageant takes place on 13 December.
According to Kazombaruru, delegates are expected to arrive on 30 November, but she will arrive on Sunday to meet the Namibian ambassador in Japan and expose herself to the country’s environment, weather and culture before the arrival date.
Kazombaruru’s national director to the pageant, Ndilyowike Haipinge, says the beauty queen was nominated to take part in the pageant after she won the Beauty of Africa International Pageant in Nigeria last year.
Former Miss Namibia Paulina Malulu represented the county at the same pageant for the first time in 2012, making Kazombaruru the second Namibian model to take part in the competition.
Today, Kazombaruru is revealing her national costume as ‘Welwitschia’, designed by Lloyd Kandlin.
The costume is inspired by the Welwitschia mirabilis, a plant that is endemic to the Namib Desert in Namibia and southern Angola.
The national costume in pageants ought to reflect the aspirations of the people as well as the regional culture and traditions of the models.
“For Erika, this is a representation of our nation, the endurance of hard times, and defying all odds as a community,” says Haipinge.
“The [Welwitschia mirabilis] caught my attention from a young age in primary school when one of my teachers introduced it through social studies,” explains Kazombaruru.
She adds she chose the costume because it has a true Namibian heritage, with inspiration influenced by one of the oldest living fossils, with its unusually large, strap-like leaves that grow continuously along the ground for the entire life of the plant.
“The Welwitschia stands for endurance, survival in a hostile environment and perseverance against all odds. I am very fortunate to carry this national symbol, rooted in the desert sand as a fighter for survival and, therefore, a symbol of Namibia’s fortitude and tenacity, embodied through my national costume.”
The Welwitschia mirabilis has become a centre of attention on modelling stages.
This is also after Diana Andimba (24), a Miss Namibia second runner-up currently in the Philippines ahead of her participation in the Miss Earth World competition, revealed her costume of the same plant before she left the country.
ROAD TO MISS INTERNATIONAL
Organisers of Miss International announced that the 60th edition of the pageant will feature contestants from 70 countries and territories that have been selected to compete at the pageant.
This year’s edition will have ‘Beauties for Sustainable Development Goals’, as the main theme for Miss International.
Kazombaruru joined pageantry in 2020 and initially contested to boost her confidence.
She participated in Miss Face of Namibia for the first time and was a fourth runner-up in the Miss Face of Namibia 2020 competition. Last year, she took part in the Miss Namibia pageant and Beauty of Africa International Pageant, where she won the crown.