Lundenga’s call too little, too late?

Friday March 9 2018

Winner of 2013 edition of the Miss Tanzania

Winner of 2013 edition of the Miss Tanzania Happiness Waitimanywa on stage to pass on the crown to her successor PHOTO | AFP 

By Paul Owere @TheC itizen

Dar es Salaam. There comes a time when you have to bid farewell however successful a career has been and sometimes the sooner the better.

It provides one with room for reflections especially when it has been a good ride whereas the opposite could equally be true.

So Hashim Lundega finally threw in the towel at Miss Tanzania after two decades plus at the helm of the Miss World Tanzania franchise.

Many believe that even as noble as his intentions might be, it came a little too late to save the face of the pageantry.

He passes on the baton to Basila Mwanakuzi who won the Miss Tanzania contest in 1998 in what analysts say was a carefully negotiated succession plan to save the ailing organisation from disgrace.

He had grown quite weary, like a long serving general in the battle field, the 23 years had taken its toll, he had lost his glow as his trademark smile dried up.

In Mwanukuzi and her The Look Ltd, he sees a more vibrant and youthful administration that he believes will steer the organisation back to its glory days.

The last three years of his reign were tumultuous and there was every indication that his time was up and he was living on borrowed tenure.

Miss Tanzania which was once one of the most revered entertainment dates on the entertainment calendar was on the verge of a total collapse and there was need to bring some order in the house.

Lundenga was quick to admit that despite the success that the pageantry enjoyed in the early years, there were challenges too, especially after the confusion that led to the suspension of the contest in 2014.

When Sitti Mtemvu abdicated her throne 29 days after she had been crowned in 2014, there was every indication that all was not well at the Miss Tanzania establishment.

Indeed as it turned out it was a very troubled place that even stellar performance by Happiness Waitimanywa at the Miss World couldn’t help their cause.

Echoes of 1967 rumbled in the background; a court cases pitting the franchise holders, a public that was still yawning for the truth over Sitti’s real age were among issues that Lundenga and Co had to contend with.

As the narrative wore on, little known to the public, there was more dirt that was stifling the pageantry two decades and the result was a fallout with plenty of dirty linen being washed in public.

At that point even as the pageantry’s reputation seemed to be waning Lundenga insisted that Miss Tanzania had left a mark that not many contest in the country can boast of.

The prizes for the winners soon became a cat and mouse game sometimes taking too long to be delivered much to the frustration of the queens at some point.

As Lino and Co became the number one casualties of the in fights and the ban, financial support also took a hit as no sensible sponsor was willing to put their money in a franchise whose ownership was not clear. The contest though an annual event had become a predictable money spinner for most of the grass root organisers who admit that they had to reinvent to survive.

The result was that on two occasions the pageant failed to hold the annual contest and had to make do with a recycled beauty queen at the Miss World Contest.

Lundenga and co will boast of considerable success that they brought to individuals who participated in the final stages of the contest with some of them enjoying high profile celebrity status.

According to him most of the former beauty queens became very successful because the institution gave them a platform to realise their dreams in their chosen careers.

“The success of the beauties isn’t in the winning of the world title alone. It’s where the beauties go afterwards,” he once told The Beat in an interview.

However, even with such assurances it remains unclear whether it was Lundenga who was the problem or the entire institution led by Lino and Co.

Lundenga’s reign is now something for the museum piece and Basila has taken over from the man who mentored her, there are huge tasks that await the new administration.

On top of it all is the restoration of the confidence amongst the stake holders with the promise that they can take the pageantry back to its glory days.

The Look will have to revamp the institution to give it a new face, one that will bring financial support, a feature that had taken a downward spiral in the final days of the Lundenga administration. All the same there is every indication that glory days could soon return given what women administrators have done in other countries’ pageantry.