THE showbiz industry awakened this past week after the crowning of Maison Sere (42) as Mr Ugly 2015. The most intriguing part was how former champion William Masvinu had the crown “stolen” from him given that the winner was defeated at the previous contest.
By Jairos Saunyama
Nevertheless, despite the hullabaloo surrounding the popular event, this year’s edition was successful. However, a look back since the enthronement of the inaugural competition in 2011, there is something usual about the winners’ origins and professions, leaving arts enthusiasts with a conclusion that lack of funding has resulted in organisers resorting to desperate measures.
The recruitment exercise has not been up to standard but because of the passion of the organiser David Apama Machowa, people have been exposed to the same people, who have similar professions as well as coming from Harare’s eastern suburbs where Apama has influence.
In 2011, Brian Mateyazondo who won the competition was a tout from Ruwa. The following year, Mateyazondo lost the crown to William Masvinu, a porter at Mbare Musika who comes from Epworth.
The new winner, Sere comes from Mabvuku, works as a clown and is popularly known as Ajigija.
His manager Tawanda Jena confirmed that Sere is not formally employed and survives on “piece jobs”.
One can therefore conclude that the Mr Ugly pageant is a favourite to those in the informal sector, or is it that those who “work in offices” shun the competition? Or is it that the call for entries is limited due to funds? Is it that the organisers are identifying and handpicking contestants? Why are the winners from Harare?
Apama said contestants were recruited nationwide and said that those who come forward were those that were willing to contest.
“We pushed adverts and flyers for anyone willing to contest all over the country. The social media was also awash with the issue. I believe those who have won or come forward to contest take the pageant seriously. On the other hand, we have very ugly men inside the offices and now that the pageant has gained professionalism they will come out and I hope the next event will be hotter. Seriously, now they will come out,” said Apama.
Arts commentator Chamunorwa Mashoko recently said despite financial constraints Mr Ugly pageant will be struggling because it is not developmental.
“The pageant died a natural death due to funding challenges and because it is not developmental. The pageant must be something that has developmental outcomes, it can only be revived to save a developmental purpose, and in this day, you cannot just do an event that does not develop society. It should not be just an event,” said Mashoko.
“For example, if Miss World was not aligned to charity, it was going to be meaningless, and because of that it has been in existence since inception. I think at some point the pageant should be aligned to raise awareness of gender equality, not just being an event.”
In a bid to keep his legacy alive and as the man behind the popular event, Apama’s high hopes have reached the point of hosting the Mr Ugly World in 2017. Given the current economic challenges prevailing in the country, the founder, who is also a prolific dancer, said this year’s edition of the pageant had attracted a lot of sponsors, leaving him without an option but to go big.
If it was not for the generosity of local arts promoting company Devine Assignment which provided $1 000, the pageant could not have been held. Asked on how he will host such a big event like Mr Ugly World while struggling with a national event, Apama said he was sourcing for funds.
“It is possible to host Mr World, I am saying this because sponsors have already started pledging their support. I am working on a professional budget for it and we are on the move already. We are getting a great response but for now, I cannot disclose the budget figure,” he said.
“We are going to partner South Africa for Mr Ugly Africa whereby every country in the continent will produce their ‘own’ Mr ugly and affiliate for the Mr Ugly Africa. This will happen in South Africa in June next year.
“Then we move to Mr Ugly Europe, Mr Ugly America, Mr Ugly Asia and other continents whose winners will take part in the contests to be held in Zimbabwe. This will be achievable because I will partner with event organisers from all over the world who I also can’t disclose, at least for now.”
In October 2013, after a series of postponements, the pageant in its third edition took off after the intervention by Life Investments Company who provided prize moneys for the winners. Masvinu retained the title. The following year, the event failed to take off.