Beauty with a purpose: an interview with Miss Zambia UK

Beauty with a purpose: an interview with Miss Zambia UK
Mambo talks to Andella Chileshe Matthews, a 21-year-old a student at St Mary’s University who is also the new Miss Zambia UK.

Andella is determined to address the problems facing African women and children in the UK and in Zambia. She told Mambo Editor Joseph Ochieng how she plans to do this.

MAMBO: Why did you enter Miss Zambia UK?

ANDELLA: The pageant was founded on the principles of ‘Beauty with a Purpose’, an initiative that uses beauty contests to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS. The annual contest is held in memory of all the Zambian women who have died of AIDS. This cause is close to my heart, as I have lost friends and family members to the disease. I thought it would be great to have the opportunity to help the cause.

MAMBO: How will you use the title to help people in the Zambian community here in the UK and back in Zambia?

ANDELLA: Winning the title ‘Miss Zambia UK’ has opened many doors for me. I have met several influential people and am in a position where people take what I say seriously. I use my influence to raise awareness of the challenges facing Zambian communities. I am adding my voice to those of individuals and organisations who attempt to overcome these challenges. I feel I am a role model to a lot of young people today, many of whom may be facing diverse challenges. I am glad to know that I can help to raise cash for widows and orphans in Zambia.

MAMBO: Do you think that African role models such as beauty queens, pop stars, sportspeople or statesmen have a role in promoting sexual health awareness in their communities?

ANDELLA: Yes, definitely. It is true that you don’t have to be famous or a role model to achieve change but in this celebrity-obsessed era, those of us who are in the public eye are looked up to, especially by young people. So it’s our responsibility to make sure that people get the right message about sexual health and lifestyle. As Miss Zambia, I am the patron of Positive Runway – the Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread. This is a global HIV and AIDS campaign founded by Perryfield Promotions who organise Miss Zambia UK. Positive Runway aims to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS by using beauty queens, pop stars, models and actors as advocates of the message to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.

MAMBO: What roles and responsibilities come with your title?

ANDELLA: A week after I was crowned Miss Zambia UK, I joined the Zambian High Commissioner to the UK as a guest of honour to raise funds at a Contessa Charity Ball in Bournemouth. Contessa is a UK charity working to improve the quality of life for HIV and AIDS orphans and other underprivileged children in Zambia. I am also involved with Sport in Action, another UK-based charity working with children in Zambia and many other African countries. In April, I will be going to Zambia to work on projects run by Contessa and the All Star Kids. I will also participate in Sport and HIV Leadership Training for people living with HIV/AIDS which is organised by Sport in Action Zambia. Finally, I will co-host, along with the Zambian minister for sports, a Sports Tournament and Sports Skills Challenge for children living with HIV/AIDS.

MAMBO: Do you have a sexual health message for Africans living in the UK?

ANDELLA: My message is aimed at young Africans – get tested, know your HIV status and practice safer sex. Always use a condom, remember, condoms protect you and your partner. 

The full version of this article appears in Mambo 3.

Last review date: 21.2.2012
Next review date: 21.2.2014

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Joseph Ochieng is the editor of Mambo magazine and also works on poster campaigns targeting the African community in London. In the 1990s, Joseph pioneered media-based HIV interventions for African communities with his journal Vanguards AIDS Newsletter and several other publications, including the children’s story-book, ‘Meet Fatima, a Girl Who Has HIV’. He also produced ‘HEALTH AFRICA’, the first dedicated HIV radio talk show for UK African communities.

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