Greek model and beauty industry expert named Zim liberation war hero


Kiki Divaris

A glamorous Greek model has become the first white woman to be declared a liberation war hero by the ruling Zanu PF party.

Kiki Divaris, a leading member of Harare’s Greek community, struck up a friendship with President Robert Mugabe, after independence in 1980 and was close to both his first wife Sally and his current wife Grace.

She never made political statements, but she promoted models, and was the driving force behind the Miss Zimbabwe competition. She went to many public events, usually elegantly dressed with eye-catching hats.

Only one white man was declared a liberation hero - a Briton - Guy Clutton-Brock who is buried at Hero's Acre outside Harare.

Divaris died in hospital last weekend aged 90 and will be given a state-assisted funeral this week.

She first made headlines when shortly after independence she designed a gown for the first Miss Zimbabwe competition.

She handed over the beauty pageant business three years ago to Mary Chiwenga, a former model she tutored who went on to become second wife of Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe’s feared army commander.

“To me, Mrs Divaris was a great mentor. She reminded me of Princess Diana … she gave love to make Zimbabwe a better place to live in," Mrs Chiwenga said this week.

“Losing her as a grandmother and mentor, makes my heart ache.”

Black Opal Cosmetics said Divaris “will always be remembered as a pioneer and leader in the Zimbabwe beauty industry”. She was Zimbabwe’s "modelling queen".

Divaris, who was born in Sparta, grew up in Cape Town where she met her husband Tony, a doctor.

Her brother-in-law, Dennis Divaris, was a former MP in Rhodesian leader Ian Smith’s last government at the height of the war against Mugabe’s guerrillas.

Miriam Chikukwa, Harare metropolitan provincial minister, delivered Mugabe’s message to the Divaris family.

“Divaris is one person who showed and proved that you can be white, but indigenous.”

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