Why Miss Universe Tanzania was a disappointing affair

Friday October 18 2019

One of the contestants walks on the poorly

One of the contestants walks on the poorly staged runway. 

By Mpoki Thomson

Miss Universe Tanzania was held in Dar es Salaam last week. With all the fervent expectations, little shall be remembered about the 2019 edition of the beauty pageant. Here are the reasons:

For the decade or so, that the Miss Universe contest has been held in Dar es Salaam, there has never been such a lethargic buildup to the final showdown.

The 2019 edition was marred with what can only be termed as jumbled planning. Granted, we cannot all be availed to the inner-workings of the organization licensed to host the internationally reputable beauty contest here in Tanzania, but we can judge from the outskirts by analyzing development of events.

Take the change of venue, as a prime example. The attempts made to communicate this change, which happened three days before the event, with some people getting information through intermediaries in the twilight hours of the event day, shows the feckless handling of such crucial information.

At times, and this has been witnessed on many occasions, getting bad rep can work in your favour in the long run. However, if the bad rep is at the core of something, then it will most likely have profound negative impact.

When the 2015 edition of the global Miss Universe contest was overshadowed with Steve Harvey’s onstage blunder, it actually made the show more popular globally. People started talking about it once again.

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To jog your memory with a bit of flashback, in 2015, while on stage in the final moments of announcing the winner of Miss Universe, Steve Harvey (the host of the night) inadvertently (or so it seemed) announced the wrong name as the winner.

This onstage debacle went viral on social media – Miss Universe was trending for all the wrong reasons, but some people saw it as a light moment which highlighted human flaws.

Not the same can be said about the Tanzanian edition of Miss Universe 2019. Even though no such onstage blunders transpired, it was the aura and jaded ambiance of the event that was its own undoing.

What had seemed as an idyllic choice of venue from the beginning – Sea Cliff hotel, the event was moved to Serena, an equally known hotel in the city.

The shortcoming in this change of venue, which the event organizer – Compass Communications said was due to the ongoing rains which rendered outdoor venue such as Sea Cliff a bad choice, is that the beauty contest was staged in a small conference room, not nearly big enough to accommodate the number of people in attendance.

There was also the issue of the runway. Now, this was a major problem. Any runway should be a sight to behold.

It should make not just the models, but even the audience want to stride on it. Regrettably, this runway was so short and unimpressive –appalling to even look at. To make matters worse, it was covered with some sort of fragmented red fabric reminiscent of old rugs used to clean up dungeons – this is the brutal truth.

From what we’ve witnessed at the global Miss Universe event over the years, the stage is always quite a spectacle - massive and impressive.

If the Tanzanian representative walked her way to victory on the runway that we saw here in Dar es Salaam, then how will she stuck up against the others and equally compete on the global stage? I reiterate, a global stage that is huge, impressive, almost intimidating.

Will she be able to walk gracefully with splendour, showing her talent in front of a wide audience?

Lilian Erica, former Miss Universe and the coordinator for this year’s event under Compass Communication, maintains that the event was a success. “This year the contestent beyond Dar es Salaam. We scouted girls from other regions such as Mwanza, Arusha and Dodoma.”

She talked about some of the challenges she encountered as the coordinator, pointing out the change of venue as one of the biggest hurdles in this year’s contest. “We decided it wouldn’t be good to have an outdoor event staged on terrain that had been made damp by rains that have been wreaking havoc in some parts of the country,” she explains. She said it is for this reason that an indoor venue was chosen as backup.

Some of the people who attended the event were underwhelmed with how everything was staged. “Beatrice Materu, a Dar es Salaam resident says she and her friends expected more from Miss Universe. “Miss Universe is not just any beauty contest, it is of a high caliber, so going to the event and meeting such a setup was very disappointing,” she says.

Erica is optimistic that next year’s Miss Universe Tanzania edition will be better. “After the 2017 edition we took a gap year. We didn’t stage the beauty contest last year due to different reasons, including lack of sponsors. However, this year we came back stronger, and we will build on from this,” she says.

From what we’ve witnessed this year, the next edition has to make amends with the excruciating shortcomings of the 2019 edition.

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