Namwandi was crowned the first Miss Youth Vibez, a pioneering beauty pageant that aims to empower and unleash the talent of youth in informal settlements in Namibia. The contest held on November 19 attracted 15 participants from various backgrounds in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.
Namwandi, 19, knows all too well the challenges of growing up in an informal settlement. “I grew up in an informal settlement in the town of Otavi and understood firsthand how difficult the limited opportunities and challenges young people face can be. But with my crown, I hope to have a positive impact on the lives of young people,” he said. on Monday in an interview with .
He said he hopes to implement empowerment programs that address youth social issues, such as teen pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse.
“It is difficult to find great guidance in informal settlements. I participated in the beauty pageant to impact their lives,” said the first-year college student.
“I will address this through educating and mentoring young people to change their thinking and become a better version of themselves to create a better society,” he added.
The contest also aimed to inspire creativity in promoting environmental conservation and sustainability. The contestants also made outfits that they paraded from old and discarded materials under the notion of reuse, reduce and recycle.
“That way, we raise awareness about clean and green environments,” said Christine, one of the contestants.
The contest also prompted the young man to embrace his cultural identity and promote self-esteem by modeling with natural hair.
Youth Vibez founder Mathew Petrus said the first beauty pageant hopes to prepare young models to participate in other major national beauty pageants and represent Namibia on international stages.
The event also served as a platform to scout new talent for dancers and musicians from informal settlements.
“Namibia has many talented young people living in informal settlements who lack opportunities, recognition, exposure and financial support, leading them to crime and alcohol and drug abuse, which destroys their lives,” Petrus said.
Meanwhile, Namwandi hopes to train youngsters who are interested in becoming models. “To show them that they can overcome many challenges and propel them to greatness with pride,” she said. ■