Why I hate Miss Rwanda

  • By Janet Karemera
  • September 01, 2012
Janet Karemera

Well,  let me clarify on that. I don’t hate either the girls who unfortunately compete or the eventual winners. Actually I fully support young Rwandan women striving to achieve something, even if it is being considered the most beautiful girl in Rwanda. Everyone has their own goals.

Do the organisers understand the ramifications of teaching young women, that the easiest way to win a new car and attract certain notoriety is to have a certain
standard of beauty and be able to sashay down a catwalk in an evening gown?

 If you live under a rock, unable to tune into any of the ubiquitous local radio stations, the 2012 Miss Rwanda will be crowned today at the Gikondo Expo grounds here in Kigali. This after a month of boot-camp where they underwent “intensive” social media training, discussed charity and entrepreneurship and learnt the most important thing a woman should know; how to maintain their hair.

This event is quickly becoming extremely popular amongst Rwandans and the PR campaign for the event is top notch. It seems like everyone will make the trip to Gikondo tonight. But before you go, I want you to ask yourself, what does this beauty pageant add to our society or the advancement of young women?

People will argue that it is good to see beauty pageants get introduced to our typically conservative society and yes, I will agree with them on that point. Our society DID need some local entertainment but I must ask, at what cost?

I don’t understand why the Government is supporting such events, which will cost a whopping Rwf 120 million, when we don’t even have sufficient local community centres where youth can participate in various programs.

You have the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ministry of Education and the Rwanda Development Board amongst many other government institutions financially supporting this beauty pageant when you probably have schools in the rural areas that don’t have a library or a computer lab. The Ministry of Culture has decided to attach buzzwords like “tradition” and “culture” to this event so that it can be more acceptable to society while RDB has decided to put this under their tourism department. But, hold on a second, since when have young women become tourist attractions?!

Do the organisers understand the ramifications of teaching young women, that the easiest way to win a new car and attract certain notoriety is to have a certain standard of beauty and be able to sashay down a catwalk in an evening gown?

The winner of this year’s contest will have the opportunity to participate in the Miss World pageant. While this contest will give our winner the opportunity to travel the world, what is the overall damage at the end of the day?

The organizers need to realize that international competitions come with international standards of beauty. I have always believed that Rwandan women have healthy amounts of self-confidence and know that they derive their dignity and self-worth from what they achieve through hard work and not their looks. Major body image issues like eating disorders that result from low self-esteem and self-confidence are not common amongst girls here because they know their ‘Agaciro’. Once you begin to dictate what is the ideal height and weight of women, you run the risk of young girls concentrating more on how they look, rather than the more important things in life.

I’m very disappointed in the Government for attaching itself to such a farce. Especially when you have organizations like Imbuto Foundation working hard to empower young girls. Their educational programmes help create real self-confidence in young girls, by concentrating on the achievements that they work for and not the physical attributes they are born with. A Ministry of Culture official says that Miss Rwanda will help “promote young Rwandan women in both their intellectual and aesthetic qualities”. I did not know the aesthetic qualities of young Rwandan women such an important issue that the Government had to step in.

However, I DO know that one of our national development goals is to create a strong knowledge based society but instead of sponsoring and organizing national educational competitions like spelling bees, math competitions, science fairs, sports events, or investing in schools that develop real talent in the fields of music, drama, and dance , the Ministry of Culture and RDB have shown that flaunting yourself in a bikini and a nice dress will get you more recognised than your other natural talents.

In countries like the USA, they can have all the beauty pageants they want because they have developed various ways for young people to succeed in their interests like Scripps Spelling Bees or have schools like the world renowned Julliard School, where kids go to develop their artistic talents.

We need tore-evaluate our national priorities. What kind of future leaders, more especially women leaders, are we producing?

Contact email: Janet.karemera[at]


very sober post ...hat off to you, may i add another point though? the big elephant in the room, where the physics and looks drove the this country in 1994, people were targeted because they had a certain height or a certain nose and that particular looks and height is exactly what is needed to be a miss.... what about the young girls who look otherwise, what if they ask their parents how come they can't participate in these shows because of how they look don't you think it is going to bring back old skeletons ...just saying

02:54:10 Saturday 01st, September 2012 kigali, rwanda - rwanyonga

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Well said Janet,I understand you are criticizing the gov't involvement in terms of financial support. However, you did not suggest other means the organizers could use to keep the program running (financially), if at all you support the pageants.

04:09:22 Saturday 01st, September 2012 USA - Egide

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Very thoughtful article. Well articulated for. I do share same idea.

07:11:32 Saturday 01st, September 2012 buzinga - baraka

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I write in support of the briliant ideas of Ms. Janet Karemera. Beauty pageantry is a form of entertainment that should be left to the private sector like any other business undertaking. Government involvement in the exercise is waste of resources needed to create the critical mass of professionals we so badly need. On a large scale this tendency to take our eyes off the ball will adversely affect of capacity to achieve our targeted millennium goals.

08:20:31 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - Rwanda - Muhamud Rutagonya

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Dear Janet,First, Its a shame that are not participating when you could actually have won the competition!!I think I understand the point you are driving and I infact wonder if beauty competition is culturally endorsed. While I understand the point you are making, I find no harm in beauty competitions. I support competitions including beauty competitions, spelling bees, math competitions, science fairs, sports events and I think the government is doing exactly that not at the expense of. Bytheway, beauty competition is more than facial beauty but also intellectual abilities. For me, any competition from marathon to fomula one car racing to job interview to beauty competition is a learning opportunity.So, my good sister Janet, please join fellow Rwandans live at Gikondo ground or tune your TV on and celebrate ibyiza by'iRwanda!

08:40:37 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - Zamu Isma

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hell yeah ,i totally agree with u

09:20:57 Saturday 01st, September 2012 poland - ingabire

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..."hold on a second, since when have young women become tourist attractions?!"...yego da...your article raises questions on which the liberal minister Mitali and Claire Akamanzi should provide answers but I´m afraid they won´t...Brilliant.

09:54:29 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Germany - Jean Binama

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i like that and i support the idea.To be more specific let us have a look at what we have produced from previous Miss's be it at national, Kigali or university levels.iam not disappointed by govt like Janet but disappointed by previous Miss's.

10:13:42 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - NK

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I think this is actually an incredible development for have no idea how many people would want to spend this weekend in Kigali just to c the beautiful girls.i totally support it and agree it is a tourist attraction,if you think about it deep.Also,it does not hurt having a fun weekend in Kigali,does it?I support this event,and i just hope whoever wins does something that should put Rwanda out there.not just sit and warm the throne.

11:00:46 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Rwanda - Stush

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More critical thinkers like this lady would be a huge boost to Rwanda. I share many of her thoughts in this article especially having public funds spent on an event like this and of course the no-less-shameful government support for young girls looks as a tourism attraction. But on RDB support, I think the wrong division went in; looking at Miss Rwanda as a private business, then the RDB business promotion dept should have helped since business is business and morality should be a thing for the parents. BTW, a woman's beauty is a culture-centered attribute and it's laughable that when choosing a Miss Rwanda, they tend to look at what an average American [should I say western] man would consider beautiful

11:05:34 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Stockholm, Sweden - NZEYIMANA Emery Fabrice

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Wow! Dear fellow Rwandans, Lets see what's indeed in need for the betterment of our country in future. Remember Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial.

12:02:26 Saturday 01st, September 2012 India - Arthur

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Janet, umbaye kure!!!! You said it all and I don't think it could have been said better. Well done!!

12:29:56 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kgl - Eric 1key

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* Has anyone among y'all went in Rdan rural schools,Mwize hehe koko,?!* Do you know what 120 Million can do in education of Rwandan's students.?!* As janet said this competitions should be left or organized by private sectors..Not the government..coz there's so many things to invest in than Beauty pageant..I would rathat put those millions in

12:31:16 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - John

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Fully Support the article. The govt should not have splashed that lots of money especially in this crisis where other generous Rwandans are raising money of agaciro Development Fund. Instead the ministry and organizers should have searched for supporters to fund this event like MTN,TIGO and others..

13:49:22 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - Ingabire Ivan

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Get off your high horse!

14:37:29 Saturday 01st, September 2012 United States - peter

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Dear Janet may God bless you for this brilliant observation.My analysis to the current Rwandan entertainment industry is that since Satan has managed completely to deceive the west, believe me or not this is our turn too and my advice to all Rwandans is to heed on schemes of the devil.let us remind ourselves that we are in the last days ,like days of Noah and Loti where people are busy running after world pleasures.

14:44:56 Saturday 01st, September 2012 SFB - Gerald

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Very insightful analysis! I can not agree with you more!

15:20:00 Saturday 01st, September 2012 KGL - Felix P

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I disagree with the writer,while you attack the government and confess to agree with the concept,give avenues for raising funds then, you need to search and understand the great influential role a super star or a celebrity can play in transforming the society.while cosmetics and cat-walking becomes part of evaluation process, but look at it in a more broader way.BTW its not how they look, and dressed that makes them win, there are other criteria,like moral standards, integrity, intellectualism...Think outside the box, you will discover what you didn't know.Life is not entirely all about Economic devt, but universal free will to do what you want any time and the Govt's mandate to protect and facilitate all its citizens, involves among others sponsoring Miss Rwanda for those who want it. So the next day you will tell us close all discos and be replaced with shopping centers??? uhh??? You don't know what quality and a good leader such an exposed younger becomes after going through that experience of miss xxxx.. and interacting with international audiences..Next time before you write, Think, Consult and share your article before getting published..

17:47:26 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - Gordon

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Lucid. Relevant. Bold. One of the most important commentary pieces ever written in these pages. Don't go away, keep it coming. A star is born!

22:07:31 Saturday 01st, September 2012 Kigali - LR

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Very clever lady!!!My friend, we are concerned about AGACIRO DEVELOPMENT FUNDS while the resouces are used for nothing with added value to the rwandan Community, except those organisers who want to steal or to mismanage funds in order to get their dues? I wish the President of the Republic could read this! He will definitively stop this useless events. You say donors are stopping their aids. We want ADF to show our dignity but again we lose dignity by misusing the little funds we have for nothing. Where do we go? I never support this useless events; or to spend money on teams (AMAVUBI for ex) who never win even a single score.

23:31:41 Saturday 01st, September 2012 GIKONDO - ZAM ZAM

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Seconding the observations of ingabire (writing from Poland. Janet Karemera is not only persuasively intelligent (inner beauty) but also a serious contender for the national crown (outer beauty). Looking foward with great expectations to her 2024 Presidential Campaign !!!!!!!

00:12:40 Sunday 02nd, September 2012 Baltimore (US) - Margaret S. Maringa

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The Author of this article and all her supporters, think outside the box please! No need to say much. Government is a Parent too among other things... and by the way all yo suggestions are being done by the GoR otherwise Rwanda wouldnt be where we are now!!! We are a model country not only for fellow African countries but even Europe and the West are wowed by us and all our home grown initiatives. So wake up and support Government programs, and involvements because govt is not blind, it has advisors and respect is among the little things you can do!! Stop complaining about your country, do your part well coz you are your country!!!

02:16:36 Sunday 02nd, September 2012 Kigali - Herbert Muhire

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Even the critics of this article know the sour pill of truth and honesty it carries. You have written things many would not have the courage to write. Respect!

22:04:26 Sunday 02nd, September 2012 Kigali - Hassan

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Well written article Janet. Its worth hightlighting moral degeneration as in the famous words of British lawyer and Jurist Judge Devlin "an established morality is as necessary as good government to the welfare of society. Societies disintegrate from within more frequently than they are broken up by external pressures."

22:13:46 Sunday 02nd, September 2012 London - Isaac Adams

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People look at things differently depending on several circumstances, and I would say its wise for Janet to express her disagreement with the event, ,But on the other hand, I see nothing wrong with the competition since its also a way to development, I hope the new queen prooves a point, ''only she can make this IMPortant as it seems''

09:31:02 Monday 03rd, September 2012 kigali - shishi

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people style up and may be if you don't know the meaning of miss beauty towards the development of our country Rwanda,am upset with you people who think like her!!! 120frw your complaining for is dam little compared to the out comes of miss Rwanda heritage. Do you think other countries who does miss nominees are stupid? guys think more than you do...

11:25:05 Monday 03rd, September 2012 kigali - herbo

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I am not sure i agree completely with this article since I do not HATE Miss Rwanda. There is more questions asked than answers in this article. Certainly, pouring 120 million on Beauty pageant (still trying to get a hang on the criteria for beauty on this Miss Event) when people are wondering about the 'Agaciro Fund', should give us a pause indeed.However:I) As for 'Do the organizers understand the ramifications of teaching young women, that the easiest way to win a new car and attract certain notoriety is to have a certain standard of beauty and be able to sashay down a catwalk in an evening gown?'I am not sure that they are teaching anything by doing that. They were just rewarding the winner. This is not more harmful than the Telecom companies or the Brewing Companies or Banks giving away free cars, Fridges, Houses to winners of non-intellectual contest - just trying not to use the word 'Luck'. Are we saying that those organizations (Banks, telecom, etc.) are teaching people that they should rely on luck to get what they want?II) "what does this beauty pageant add to our society or the advancement of young women?"Not much, except reminding folks that womanhood in Rwanda is celebrated in many ways than one. Gender equality at work, they'll tell us i suppose.III) "But, hold on a second, since when have young women become tourist attractions?!"Maybe they should be. After all, we are told that we only have human resources as our natural wealth, don't they? - smileIV) "While this contest will give our winner the opportunity to travel the world, what is the overall damage at the end of the day?"The overall damage will be that we will lose the Miss World contest at an international level. That is guaranteed. And Rwandans hate to loose. That will be a hard pill to swallow, but we will have to in few months.V) "Once you begin to dictate what is the ideal height and weight of women, you run the risk of young girls concentrating more on how they look, rather than the more important things in life."I am not a specialist in Rwandan girls, but aren't we assuming too much here? I mean, do we really think that our girls do not already concentrate on their looks? And to be honest, since the Miss Rwanda has for purpose to celebrate both 'extravagant' beauty and intelligence (judging by the questions asked to the Miss) - it won't be fair that only one aspect of it is taken as the representative of the Miss Rwanda influence on our girls, namely physical attractiveness. Both physical attractiveness and intellectual performance seemed to have been the purpose of the showbiz (though i ain't confident they succeeded in any of the two - but that is another story for another time).VI) "the Ministry of Culture and RDB has shown that flaunting yourself in a bikini and a nice dress will get your more recognized than your other natural talents."Maybe they have not shown that, but rather they have simply recognized this. We may not like it but our world will always value, celebrate and overpay those with natural gifts, talents, natural beauty/physical attractiveness above those who have worked long and hard on their character. It is not fair, nor is it reasonable i concede but this is the world in which we live in. We do that not only on beauty Pageant, but as well in Music awards with all our emerging celebrities, and soon in sports and so on.The question i am wondering with regard to this article is: why should we value more sports, artistic talents as advocated than natural beauty or attractiveness? None of them are intellectually driven by essence to my knowledge, nor are they part of our core-character infrastructure neither.Thanks for the courage in psychoanalyzing this issue though - Janet K. - but i have to say that the argument presented has not yet proven to be convincing enough to do away with this Miss Rwanda event yet.See more on my blog:

17:03:43 Monday 03rd, September 2012 Rwanda - E.G

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Always first research and consult experts and elites in the field. I hate it when The New Times publishes everything, including misleading information.

18:08:24 Monday 03rd, September 2012 SA - Jackson

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Dear Janet, i 100% agree with you. I'ts a big shame to see many young Rwandans who are frustrated because they can't afford paying their tution fees and the government seems not to have an idea about it. On the other hand, every country has got a miss ... heritage and why shouldn't Rwanda show the the beauty it has? I think there are many rich rwandans who could very easily support such entertainments to increase their profits. These are the ones responsible to offer the government a little support. More to that, after all that Rwanda went through, I think our lovely young rwandans deserve to show their beautiful smiles.

12:49:20 Saturday 09th, February 2013 Germany - Fiona Rutembesa

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