MADDIE YUSUF’S MODELLING REIGN
Culture continues to be an important aspect of people’s identity across the world. It shapes our thinking by influencing us to work towards attaining set cultural standards, or by challenging cultural norms that no longer serve our personal and communal growth; and determine the lense through which we see the world and people around us. Miss Heritage is a beauty pageant that promotes and celebrates the diversity of cultures from all over the world. Being selected as a contestant to one of the biggest pageants in Africa to represent the uniqueness of the culture of one’s country and its tourist attractions is an honor that ought to be celebrated nationally. Madalo Yusuf Mkuwu, also known as Maddie Yusuf, is the 26-year-old Malawian model who was selected to represent the warm heart of Africa at this year’s Miss Heritage 2019 held in Ghana on the 20th of August. However, due to a lack sponsors to fund her participation in the event, Maddie had to sit it out only to land herself the position of National Director for Miss Culture International and the model manager for Lush Africa Fashion.
Maddie’s big break into starting her modeling career begun in 2014 when she modeled for Cathy Kamthunzi, a Malawian fashion designer, at a show hosted in Blantyre at Casa Mia. This step opened doors to more opportunities for her to walk several Malawian-based fashion shows: Lilongwe Motor Show, Sand Music Festival show, British Council Fashion show, African Fashion festival amongst many other fashion and social events. Looking back on her journey, embarking into the world of modelling is one of the best decisions Maddie is proud to have made. What begun as dreams of becoming a high-end fashion model soon evolved into an expansion of Maddie’s horizon into the world of pageantry.
Support from family and friends have kept her driven and focused on leaving her mark on the local and global pageant scene since she began her career in 2010. She knows what it feels like to have dreams of attaining an education but being unable to due to lack of financial support and resources such as scholarships and bursaries. Maddie paid her way through school by starting a business of selling clothes, a pathway to independence and financial stability she would like to empower other girls to follow suit by investing in their small start-up businesses as a way of paying for their own school fees and become self-sustainable.
Waiting on people can take forever but taking the initiative to start with whatever you can as you work towards your goal can lead to other doors opening for you along the way, she says. She would also like to help girls who’ve given birth to get back on their feet financially and through education so they can create their own lives on their own terms. Life does not have to end with having children at any stage of your life, she adds.
Being a firm believer of Rome not being built in a day, Maddie continues to pursue her modelling career by taking part in fashion shows and pageants across the African continent. Having been to Tanzania with Ethiopian Airlines sponsoring her flight ticket and Black Opal her make-up products, her next stop was set to be representing Malawi in this year’s Miss Heritage 2019 in Ghana, but it seems other plans are in order for the budding Malawian model. As the National Director for Miss Culture International in Malawi, she will be juggling her own modeling career with organizing the National Pageant and sending the finalist to compete in Miss Cultural International in South Africa. In November this year, as the co-national director of Zuri Malawi, she is set to take Amber Chidzalo, the Malawian representative, to take part in Zuri Africa International Pageant in Zimbabwe. Then in December, she will be trotting off to Nigeria for another pageant representing Malawi on a global scale.
It is important that my journey inspires young girls who look up to me to keep working towards their goals and future even when people try to bring them down, Maddie says. She remembers a time when some people laughed at her having to take the bus to Zambia where she had been selected, along with other representatives from 20 other countries, to participate in Global Supermodel. Having been crowned first princess at Miss Heritage Malawi, she had hopes to make it to the top 5 and bring the crown home in this year’s Miss Heritage. She looks forward to creating opportunities for young Malawian girls to pursue their passions and be able to participate in different industries and competitions on a global scale without the limitations of funding or sponsorships.
If I can do it, then millions of other young Malawian girls can do it too, she says. She would love to see more support from fellow Malawians when it comes to helping one another to raise visibility of Malawian brands and creatives, as well as in opening doors for younger generations to be able to confidently take Malawi to the world without any kind of limitations.