Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
VETERAN modelling mentor, philanthropist and Zanu-PF member, Kiki Divaris who died on Saturday has been declared a liberation heroine and will be buried on Wednesday. A staunch Zanu-PF supporter, Vassiliki Babaletakis Divaris, died at the age of 91 in her sleep at Borrowdale Clinic Trauma Centre after suffering from pneumonia.
Shadreck Mashayamombe, Zanu-PF Harare provincial commissar said they had looked at how Divaris worked to raise Zimbabwe’s flag high worldwide and her contribution during the liberation struggle.
“Divaris has remained loyal to the party and contributed immensely to the liberation of this country during the struggle. We saw it fit as a province to recommend that she be conferred with the liberation heroine status.
“The politburo approved because she was a person who lived her life to develop the country. She was a person who helped the party in many ways before and after independence,” said Mashayamombe.
Miss Zimbabwe Trust Chairperson Marry Chiwenga said the Queen Maker, as Divaris was affectionately known will be buried on Wednesday.
“Divaris will be buried on Wednesday at 12 noon at Pioneer Cemetery in Mbare, where her husband Dr Anthony Divaris was buried. Mourners are gathered at her home, 68 Churchill Road, Alexandra Park in Harare,” said Chiwenga.
Divaris surfaced in the public arena shortly after Independence as a renowned designer of the dress worn by the first black Miss Zimbabwe Shirley Nyanyiwa.
Known for her fashion sense, Divaris has dressed politicians’ wives especially the late First Lady Sally Mugabe, who she worked closely with in charities. She was once mistaken as the mayor of Harare because of her flamboyance and her impeccable dress sense.
She later became the chairperson of the Miss Zimbabwe Trust a position she held for over 30 years, before handing it over three years ago to Chiwenga and she became the patron.
To her various Miss Zimbabwes Divaris is described as a formidable woman, a great mother, respected member of her community and a philanthropist of note.
When news of her death filtered through, messages of condolence started pouring on social media sites with former beauty queens saying her death had left them distraught.
Oslie Muringai Miss Zimbabwe 2004, posted: “As I reflect on just the 11 years I knew you, I can only imagine how much more your 91 years made a difference in this world. I feel blessed to have known you, to have spent time with you, to have dined in your house, had tea and cheese in your beautiful garden, tried on gowns and jewellery in your bedroom, made banana loaf and Greek bread in your kitchen.
“You taught me to love selflessly, work hard and still look gracious and smile while doing it. I remember you cried the day of my wedding when you had a minor accident on the way there so you couldn’t make it. I remember the cot bed mobile you gave to Jayden when I brought him over for you to see him.
“You lived a great life Kiki, you impacted a lot of people and I’m honoured to be one of them. I love you.”
Lorraine Maphala-Phiri Miss Zimbabwe 2006, who once stayed with Divaris as she prepared for Miss World 2006 wrote: “I could write a list of things you did for me but where do I start? Your love for people was simply amazing! The love and lessons I received from you while you gave me shelter throughout my reign will forever be in my heart. I love how you used to dress up even going to the shops just down the road. I will miss the long phone call/chats as you continued to teach me my role as wife and a mother….rest in peace my mlungu Gogo Kiki Divaris,”
Sibusisiwe Dube, Miss Zimbabwe 2007 second princess and Miss Bulawayo, 2007 said:
“A great woman she was Kiki Divaris. A visionary a leader and a unifier. She imparted a lot to many women and leaders in Zimbabwe. She did impart a lot to me. You would visit her at her house and she wouldn’t sit down and let you run around for her. Always the other way round. I remember all her stories which dated back to Sally Mugabe and how some mistook her for the mayor at some point in time, because of her classy dressing and refined personality.
“We shall forever celebrate her life which she lived. The modelling industry shall never be the same.”
The late Divaris is survived by two sons, Sotiri and Dimitri as well as two grandchildren and two great grand children.