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 2010-02-14 01:21 am Back to NEWS
Lukundo, the African queen

INSTANT star! That best describes Zambia’s latest modelling high-flier – Lukundo Nalungwe – declared M-Net Face of Africa at the finale in Nigeria last Saturday night.

Little known to an ordinary modelling follower, Lukundo made three previous attempts at the coveted crown.

Since its launch in 1998, Zambia’s envoys have only come close but Lukundo finally made the cut to pick the most sought-after modelling prize on the continent.

She joins the ranks of Cherise Makubale (Big Brother Africa) and Lindiwe Allamu (Project Fame winner), among other young Zambian women that swept continental glory in the entertainment industry.

Born on June 10, 1988 in Kabwe, Lukundo’s aspiration for the prestigious Face of Africa started at the age of 17.

“God has seen her through. She has been trying since she was 17,” Teza, Lukondo’s elder sister says in an interview with the Weekend Post.

“My late brother Kela would have been happy to see this. He really used to encourage her.”

That’s the reason why Lukundo broke down when she made the first telephone call to her eldest sister Sibusiso at backstage.

“She was crying, and our sister Sibusiso was also crying. We couldn’t talk much when she called after being declared winner,” she says.

Emotions, Teza explains, overwhelmed a family of four sisters who lost their only brother Kela Silungwe about three months ago.

She says the family was grateful to God for their sister’s achievement following the death of their mother in 1998 and their father five years ago.

“We have been living together as a family after we lost our parents and we thank God for this,” she says.
Admittedly, Lukundo and her sisters fancied Zambia’s chances at the crown.

“We were hopeful that she will make it to the top five,” she says. “The girl from Nigeria Marvis and Mozambique Ernania were the biggest threat.”

Yet Lukundo hit the apex to grab the crown that Mary Nawale (1998) and Mulenga Mubanga (2006) came closest to winning.

Lukundo’s friend, Chanda Lungu, was equally joyous her friend had grabbed the biggest continental prize.

Having linked up with Lukundo at Mickley Lifestyle’s modelling agency, Chanda says the ambition was set for greater heights.

“Since we met in 2008, we have been training together and I remember we also did a fashion show with X Models,” she says.

Chanda says Lukundo’s triumph was a landmark achievement for the country’s growing modelling industry.

Mickley Banda says his efforts in contributing to the modelling industry had manifested through Lukundo’s triumph.

“I’m so happy for her. She has been working hard and finally got it,” adds the fashion designer.
President Rupiah Banda has not been left out in celebrating Lukundo’s triumph.

In a statement by special assistant to the President for press and public relations Dickson Jere, President Banda noted that Lukundo had brought pride to Zambia.

He stated that the 21-year-old business administration student had proved that anything was possible as long as it was backed with hard work and commitment.

“I would like to congratulate you for this wonderful achievement which has come as a result of your hard work. I am personally proud of you and I believe that many Zambians will join me in wishing you much more success as you represent Africa,” President Banda stated.

He, however, advised Lukundo not to fall into the trap that had seen previous winners in different fields ruin their careers.

President Banda urged Lukundo to remain focused and learn from the mistakes of others.

He stated that for Nalungwe to have emerged winner from an initial field of 400 contestants later trimmed to 10 was indicative of a rare kind of self-belief that must be emulated by all Zambians who wished to succeed on the international scene.

President Banda promised to host Lukundo for lunch at State House.

Shortly after the victory, Lukundo travelled to the Big Apple for the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York which began yesterday. She also walked home US $50,000 richer and earned a contract with O Models.

M-Net managing director Biola Alabi congratulated Lukundo on her win saying,

“It’s an incredible thing to watch someone’s life literally change in front of your eyes and when it happens live in front of a continent, it is remarkable and a very special moment. We are very proud of Lukundo and all of the Top 10 for their determination and focus and want to thank them for sharing this journey so openly.”

Lukundo’s participation in the New York fashion show is courtesy of Arise magazine.

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