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by Zandile Zaza Ndlovu | Sunday Mail
SHE loves wildlife, sport and beauty pageants, but that does not seem to be enough for the reigning Miss Tourism Zimbabwe Harare Metropolitan, 21-year-old Hillary Takunda Mandibaya. She is also reading for a degree in Biological Studies (majoring in Zoology) at the University of Zimbabwe.
At an age where most young women her age are occupied with frivolities, Mandibaya is an accomplished athlete, academic, model and businesswoman.
Running a business called Crowns for Queens, she specialises in hair extensions and make up. She has worked with celebrated musicians such as Tammy Moyo and Matthias Mhere as their makeup artist. This is what keeps her busy, when she is not engaged in wildlife activities, sports or academics.
Family & Upbringing
The first born of three siblings, Mandibaya comes from a family that is performance driven. “My mother (Fungai) is the vice president of the Table Tennis Association of Zimbabwe and my late father Walter Mandibaya was an academic and a veterinary surgeon. My step dad Chris Tanhara is very supportive of my interests. You can say, I inherited the best of both worlds,” said Mandibaya.
The model’s earliest memories are of attending sporting matches to watch her mother represent Zimbabwe. This instilled in her the desire to be an athlete, which saw her coming first in the National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) track championships.
She also made it into the Zimbabwe Junior Athletics Team. Her range and diversity in both fields and track athletic disciplines would see her represent Zimbabwe in Form Two as a Heptathlon athlete at the National and Southern Africa Regional games.
She has become an acclaimed sports personality in her own right and is ranked fifth in rowing singles (Africa Youth Games).
Mandibaya told The Sunday Mail Society how her love for sports and wildlife has contributed to her modelling career.
“I love sports that are physically demanding, as they help me stay fit and disciplined. The exposure I have gained being an athlete representing Zimbabwe turned me into ambassador for my country at a much younger age,” she said.
With her days beginning as early as 5am in the gym, she credits her coaches Silas Muringani and Gordon Pangeti from Prince Edward and Heritage Schools respectively, for her focus and success.
Besides being an accomplished athlete, from the age of three, Mandibaya has wanted to be a veterinarian, just like her father.
Zoologist in the making
Through her academics, she has followed that passion. Whilst in Upper Six, she won the Top 200 Science Olympiard for Southern Africa region in Life Sciences in Biology. This paved her way to follow her late father’s footsteps.
“I have always loved animals. I have always had dogs, cats, birds and geckos. I love my fur babies.” Through modelling, Mandibaya believes she is able to use her beauty to show the world that one can enjoy the best of all worlds.
She encouraged fellow Zimbabweans to embrace tourism without breaking the bank.
Her modelling resume includes being the First Princess at the Black Opal Face of Zimbabwe, Face of Miss Mount Pleasant and the recent Miss Tourism Zimbabwe Harare Metropolitan crown.
She is also the spokesperson for Team VW Volkswagen Zimbabwe.