A Zimbabwean couple who came to South Africa two years ago to find employment realised that in order to empower themselves they needed to empower others first.
This led them to start first a beauty pageant and then a magazine for people from other African countries.
Desmond Rongai, 29, was born and educated in Zimbabwe. He obtained a Human Resource Management degree and then completed his Master’s degree in 2011. However, jobs were scarce, and because he has a passion to help others, he joined an NGO to teach youth lifeskills. He did this for more than a year, to try and “make a change” in the lives of orphans.
Because he was not earning anything, he migrated to “green-er pastures” and went to Bots-wana. There he met his future wife Nomatter Zemba, 27, who was at the time working as a beautician at a company. Ms Zemba was also born in Zimbabwe but when she turned 21, she moved to Botswana.
Mr Rongai and Ms Zemba, who now live in Wynberg, open-ed their own beauty shop, in April 2013 in Botswana. Mr Rongai used his human resources skills while Ms Zemba used her beauty therapist skills to run the business. “But we were not doing well, financially,” said Mr Rongai, “and we decided to move to South Africa.”
He said people in South Africa treated them very well, and they did not feel like foreigners. However, he said, in Botswana, people were not so friendly to-wards them. “We moved to South Africa and I found a job in Sea Point, at a hotel as a spa manager. Although I gained experience, I wanted to go on my own.”
On April 1 last year, Ms Zemba and Mr Rongai, hosted their own Miss Natural African Queen beauty pageant. They had competitors from all African cultures, modelling in their show. “It was a successful event, but the prizes were small, such as spa vouchers.”
However, he said they managed to empower a few models, who went on to do their own pageants. “One of them is doing modelling for charity,” said Mr Rongai.
This year, they are launching another pageant, because they could only accommodate 50 people, last time, and the 150 left out, will be able to enter this year.
When interviewing the different models, Ms Zemba realised that there was a need to em-power people. So they focused on African foreign businesses, who are making it big in South Africa. “We decided to create a magazine called African Luk, featuring African businessmen and women. We have people from 10 different countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal who made it in SA.”
Mr Rongai said the magazine is an A5 size, which features each business on a page. “It is a free magazine which will be self published. We worked very hard on this issue, as we had to interview them, and Nomatter designed the layout. The businesses supplied their own photos and they edited their own stories. We charged them R100 a page, in a 38-page magazine.”
Mr Rongai said they were suprised to see how many business people were interested to be featured in the magazine. “We have restaurant owners, beauticians and funeral parlour owners in our magazine.”
The launch as well as the beauty pageant will be held at Sea Point civic centre, on Friday July 1, from 6pm to late.