BULAWAYO’S modelling industry yesterday plunged into mourning after learning of the death of legendary modelling instructor and philanthropist, Vassiliki Babaletakis Divaris, warmly known as Kiki Divaris.
She was 90. Divaris died in her sleep on Friday after succumbing to an illness.
She died at Borrowdale Clinic Trauma Centre in Harare. Bulawayo veteran modelling instructor Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda, who was one of her closest acquaintances, said she was deeply heart broken and that the industry had lost a great icon.
“I am so heart broken. I realise now that she had so much belief in me in my knowledge of the industry. When the Miss Zimbabwe Trust failed to host the event some years ago she approached me and told me I could do it and we hosted the first and only ever Miss Zimbabwe event to be held in Bulawayo.
“Also I remember when it was struggling and wanted to partner with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, she had me fly to Harare for a meeting that lasted hours. I remember we left the meeting in the early hours of the following day. I really learnt a lot from her, she was passionate about the industry. Her death is a great loss to the fraternity. She was truly a humble person. I loved her with all my heart, I am happy to have met her,” said Mpofu-Sibanda.
Former Miss Bulawayo and Miss Zimbabwe 1996 Nomusa Ndiweni expressed the same sentiments, saying despite the differences they had she was indeed the greatest patron to the modelling industry.
“I am still in shock, I saw her last year and we reconciled. We reflected and talked about our lives and the industry. I am glad to have met her and to have been a part of her life. Her death is the end of an era but her legacy will surely live on. She was the real deal when it came to modelling, she was the real McCoy. I am proud to have worked with her. She knew the true essence of pageantry and we hope that what she bestowed upon us will remain and will be passed down to other generations,” said Ndiweni.
Divaris became known shortly after Zimbabwe gained Independence, as a renowned designer. She designed the dress that was worn by the first black Miss Zimbabwe.
She became president of the Greek Hellenic Ladies’ Association, and worked closely with the late First Lady Amai Sally Mugabe, before becoming chair of the Child Survival and Development Foundation, whose patron was President Mugabe. She is survived by two sons, Sotirios and Dimitris, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Mourners are gathered at 68 Churchill Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare.