Born Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda (pictured), she went to school at Mtshede and Luveve Primary Schools, then to Luveve High in Bulawayo’s famous township of Luveve. She later graduated as a model in 1986 at Face Enterprises Modelling Agency at a time when the industry was the preserve of Caucasian models. Modelling was a taboo for African girls in an age where even the wearing of slacks or jeans for women was disdained as an act of ultimate parental defiance. Modelling was deemed to be a profession of people of loose morals and the uneducated. Sarah (SMS) — who runs the Bulawayo-based Fingers Modelling Agency — has come a long way in the pageant business. IndependentXtra’s Admire Kudita (AK) caught up with her for an interview about her journey as well as her new gig as Miss Tourism Zimbabwe (MTZ) licence holder. Below are excerpts of the interview:
AK: How did you start in the business?
SMS: In 1989, I got married to the late Peter Mpofu (father of my four daughters) who was a male model and thespian.Together we started Fingers Academy, a hair and beauty salon incorporating a modeling school/agency.
Our idea was to convince especially our black community that the beauty and modelling industries are good enough industries like any other and people can actually make a living through these.
I am glad that we chose this lane because three decades later, our dream of having our Zimbabwean community believe in the industry has been achieved as even our government is now actively involved.
AK: Then your husband died it must have been a challenge.
SMS: Through the stormy weather, even after the passing of my husband I still stood. I give credit to my children, my husband (Nkosilathi Sibanda to whom I am married now) and the modelling community for standing by me and believing in my dream. I also give credit to the late Mrs Kiki Divaris who when stepping down as patron of the MTZ pageant to make way for the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority who are the custodians of MTZ, she insisted on professionalism and highlighted my passion in the modelling industry.
AK: Tell me everything about MTZ. How did you get the licence and what are the current preparations?
SMS: Last year, I applied for the licence and early this year I was called to Harare and was told I had managed to excel ahead of the many agencies and individuals that had applied. I have cast the net far and wide by taking the beauty pageant to the communities by reintroducing the regional finals in all the 10 provinces of the country.
Each province has a provincial licence holder who runs the affairs of the beauty pageant as per the national beauty pageants requirements. By so doing we hope to give an opportunity to all the deserving girls throughout the country.
AK: What is the routine of this and what are your career highlights ?
SMS: I graduate a minimum of two classes of not less than 10 students per year and during that time I have managed to groom and worked with household names like Ashley Morgan (the reigning MTZ), Busi Dube, Caroline Marufu, Nonhlanhla Dube, Oslie Muringai Matsikenyere, Samantha Tshuma, Lorraine Maphala Phiri, male models Kieth Siamloboka, Shadel Noble to name a few. Most of them have managed to start up thriving businesses of their own.
AK: What is your message to corporate partners?
SMS: The MTZ is a brand to be reckoned with and being chosen as the licence holder comes as very tall order especially now that the country’s payoff line is “restoring the legacy” I am excited because I am doing something that I believe in and enjoy but the dream will take the involvement of everyone to be achieved.
I am calling upon everyone to rally behind this project and partner us as we search for a young lady who will lift the Zimbabwe banner high and bring the much deserved positive recognition.
AK: What of the infamous predators who “abuse” women and how do you protect the girls?
SMS: Every industry will always have people that prey on unsuspecting innocent souls. The modelling industry being one of fame, glitz and glam, will easily be a target hence the importance of grooming and self confidence to aspiring.
When one is well groomed and confident they have the wherewithal to function soundly under any circumstances and will not be pressured into doing anything that is against their conscience.