By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Zambian born Lukando Nalungwe, who shocked the world penultimate Saturday when she emerged the 6th winner of the M-Net sponsored Face of Africa competition has attributed her success to her persistence to be a part of the competition.
According to her revelation, she started participating in the competition at the age of 17 years. Since then, she has not relented in her effort to make her dream come through.
â€œI started trying when I was 17 years old, Face of Africa crew came to my country, I tried it, I couldnâ€™t make it, the following year again I tried, unfortunately I wasnâ€™t lucky again. Then after two years, they came back to my country.Â I was 19, I tried again, I couldnâ€™t make it but, IÂ never gave up.â€
â€œI always told myself to go for it…and finally they came to my country last year and then unfortunately just the previous night before I was picked to represent my country my little brother past away,â€Â Nalungwe narrated, moments after she was declared winner of the coveted prize.
Nalungwe, 22, is currently studying Business Administration in Kabwe, Zambia.
Lukundo beat nine other models selected from an initial batch of over 400 and starts her new career with a trip to America this week to take part in the New York fashion week.
Lukundo, said, after winning the glamourous award, she will not stop school.
â€œI know this has opened doors to many things but I will remain focused. I am writing my examinations in June and I will remain myself,â€ she said.
It was a tensed up final, with Lukundo having been the last announced in the top five at the event held at Eko Hotel, Lagos and witnessed by a number of dignitaries, including 1988 winner Oluchi, who was one of the judges.
As the last five was trimmed to Lukundo, Zimbabweâ€™s Rosanna Hall and Ernania Rainha Manuel from Mozambique in the last three, it was difficult to know who would strike gold.
Immediately Lukundo was announced winner, tears of joy rolled down her face and minutes later back stage, she made her call to her beloved ones in her home country.
â€œI phoned my elder sister and all I heard were screams. They sounded happy and I think we will only talk when all of us come to terms with this,â€ she said.
It was elegance, poise and aesthetic glamour that Lukando displayed to make her win the first prize and prop her to fame.
She said she had made a shot at qualifying for the M_Net Face of Africa award three times before, the first having been when she was 18 years.
â€œI knew I would make it one day and this is why I tell Zambian girls never to give up on their dreams,â€ Lukundo said.
Speaking at the glamorous event, Biola Adekanbi, Director M_net Africa said, â€œI donâ€™t believe this is a beauty pageant, I guess this is a competition, so it is very different from a beauty pageant, there was no controversy, there was no conflict,â€