Tuesday, 28 August 2012


By Kiundu Waweru
They called her pantera, Spanish for a
feminine panther, a black leopard.
And Esther Wahome proudly stood to
be counted among the world’s most
beautiful women. She stood out for
she was the only black African
competing for the Mrs Universe crown
at the recent beauty pageant in
Before she left for the annual
competition, Wahome promised to
bring home the crown.
But when she saw the other beautiful
women eyeing the same crown in
Petersburg City, she thought her
chances were slim.
She was up against “great people in
the runway and beauty industry”.
But when all ended, she got the
crown of the first runners-up. “I still
can’t believe it, I have the crown and
the sash written Mrs Universe 2012,
No 2,” said Wahome on her return.
The Mrs Universe Ltd, whose winners
are described as the ‘most
honourable woman on earth’, was
founded in 2007 in Bulgaria by Megi
The annual competition brings
married women from different
countries together for seven to ten
days during which they are involved in
different activities and are united in
the motto, ‘Against Violence’.
Inner beauty
But unlike the other beauty pageants,
Mrs Universe is not only inclined into
physical beauty, but also the inner
beauty. Entrants must be married
women aged 25 to 45.
The nominees must have excelled in
their career and used it to empower
their communities. Wahome
represented Kenya in the pageant,
which was held from August 4, with
the crowning night on August 11.
“I almost lost hope,” she told The
Standard. “The competition was really
tough. Many seemed to have won in
great pageants previously, while
others are people you will easily see
on billboards across the globe.”
Confronted with this reality, the
gospel singer never thought she had a
chance of making it to the top 20. But
then she started thinking she might
just make it when all the sponsoring
corporates picked her for a photo
shoot to promote their brand in the
days before the big night. There is the
feeling in the beauty world that black
models are discriminated against.
“For me it was a different experience.
My skin colour seemed to work to my
advantage. Everybody said I looked
like a pantera.” She wasn’t sure what
kind of animal that was until they
reassured her it was a “beautiful wild
“They kept asking if I was born with
the eyes of a pantera or I had
undergone plastic surgery.”
Before going to Russia, Wahome held
a thanksgiving dinner at the Hilton,
where she strutted on the catwalk and
promised to use the Mrs Universe
platform to let people know that
marriages work.
She introduced her husband of 16
years, before thanking him for his
support and publicly declaring, “I love
The audience broke into a hearty