Divaris accorded liberation war hero status


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ZIMBABWE – The government yesterday declared modelling guru and fashion designer, Kiki Divaris, born Vassiliki Babaletakis Divarisa a liberation war hero and will get a State-assisted funeral ahead of her burial at the Pioneer Cemetery in Harare on Wednesday. 

Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo wrote a letter to the chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda asking him to make “usual arrangements” for her burial after Mugabe declared Divaris a liberation war hero and conferred a State-assisted funeral.

Several Zanu PF officials, among them, national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, Youth minister Patrick Zhuwao and Media minister Christopher Mushowe attended the funeral wake at her Alexandra Park home yesterday, where Harare Metropolitan Provincial minister Miriam Chikukwa delivered the message to the Divaris family.

“Divaris is one person who showed and proved that you can be white, but indigenous. As the Harare Metropolitan Provincial minister I feel honoured with such a conferment by the President’s Office,” Chikukwa said.

Divaris, the Miss Zimbabwe pageant patron, died in her sleep at the age of 91 on Saturday morning at Borrowdale Clinic Trauma Centre in the capital after suffering from pneumonia.

She is survived by two children — Sotirios and Dimitris — two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Miss Zimbabwe Trust chairperson, Marry Chiwenga said Divaris will be buried at Pioneer Cemetery, where her husband Antony was interred in 2010.

“Kiki’s body will lay in state on Tuesday at her home at number 68 Churchill Avenue, Alexandra Park, in Harare, where mourners are gathered and a church service will be held on Wednesday at Greek-Orthodox Church in the capital,”she said.

Divaris’s death plunged the nation and modelling fraternity into mourning with tributes pouring in from different spectrum.

Modelling Industry Association Zimbabwe (Miaz) deputy president, Wilbert Rukato said the Zimbabwe modelling industry has been robbed of an icon, a mother and a source of inspiration to the Zimbabwean girl child.

“Kiki Divaris is irreplaceable and her commitment to pageantry was unwavering, even when the odds were against her she continued promoting the cause of the girl child and women of Zimbabwe at large,” he said.

“She was kind-hearted warm person, who kept no grudge with anyone including critics. She was a Zimbabwean to the core and she was motivated and passionate about modelling, of that there was never a shred of doubt.”

Rukato said the modelling industry will never be the same, as Divaris was responsible for establishment of hundreds of local modelling talent and through her own efforts kept Zimbabwe on the global spotlight.

Former model and founder of Zim Gossip Models agency, Mercy Mushaninga said she was hurt and shocked by Divaris’s death saying she is irreplaceable.

“I am hurt. This is a great loss to the modelling fraternity, particularly when we needed her most. Divaris was a mother to a lot of models, she is our hero, we have lost a great patron in the industry,” she said.

“Divaris had passion for the industry. My last meeting with her was when we spent about four hours at her house discussing the Zimbabwe Models Awards and how we were going honour her. She was so happy about the initiative and she shared with us the history of modelling and her passion for the girl child. May her soul rest in peace.”

Chiwenga, herself a product of Divaris’ mentorship said: “Divaris’s death will change the dynamics of Miss World Zimbabwe and the Miss Zimbabwe Trust adding that she was a queen-maker, a vibrant and vivacious woman.

“To me Divaris, was a great mentor, she was not jealous. She reminded me of the epitome that was Princess Diana and the greatness to give love to make Zimbabwe a better place to live in,” she said.

“The thought of losing her as a grandmother, a mother, mentor and above all conqueror makes my heart ache. Miss World Zimbabwe 2016 will be all about you, under the stars in memory of you.”

Social networks yesterday were also inundated with condolence messages, while many on social platforms like WhatsApp had changed their profile pictures in respect to the modelling guru.

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