Pelagie N. Mbabazi chatted with Claudine Jolie Murenzi, one of the organisers of this year’s Miss Rwanda beauty pageant.
Below are excerpts
Briefly can you introduce yourself?
I am 40 years of age. I am a former model by profession. I’m presently an artist and film maker. Today I am among the people who are organising Miss Rwanda.
I went to the French school for my primary education, which is near Lycee de Kigali today. Later, I went to study in Kenya where I attended high school and I completed university in Berlin, Germany where I majored in Art.
I am a daughter of the late Agustin and Immaculee Murenzi. I am a third born in a family of two boys and two girls.
As I pursued my career in Germany at the age of 19, I had all that was needed to be a model. I did that until I turned 24. I decided to stop doing it after realising the gap that came after losing my parents and I thought I couldn’t handle it anymore without their support.
What is your childhood dream and are you living it?
I thought in one way or the other I would be someone who would be useful to my country but my dream was to become a model or an artist. So when I turned 19 my dreams started turning into reality as I became one of the best model there. But I paid a high price to get to that level.
People who are your boss just use you in any way they want in order to recoup the money they invested in you.
How has your career made an impact in your life?
Financially I have improved because at only 19 years of age I had started driving my own car. I have been exposed to many challenges and opportunities at the same time. I am a freelancer with many film makers in Africa, USA and Europe.
Given the value I placed my cultural norms I made the decision to drop out of the fashion industry because I wasn’t ready to lose them in order to continue modeling.
What are the challenges that women like you face?
People still have certain attitude about different jobs and who should be doing them. We have the challenge of people judging us unfairly. They often end up misrepresenting who we are to the general public.
What advice can you give to Rwandan women?
Women should be able to defend their values and the passions. This is because men sometimes discourage women by saying they aren’t capable of doing some jobs.
Women should seek peoples advice opinion in order to know if what they are doing fits the public needs and how they can improve on what they are doing already.
For the young Rwandan ladies I wouldn’t advise them to be models because, while everything seems to be fine when you aren’t in the industry, talking from the experience, there is a price you have to pay if you want to reach a certain level.
I was forced to close the gap that was in my teeth because I was told that it was too African. I was given a list of what I could and couldn’t eat regardless of what effect it had on my general health. It didn’t matter as long as I made money for them.
How do you spend your leisure time?
It’s hard to say that I have free time since most of what I do is regarded as leisure on its own. But any free time I have I dedicate to my children, going on outing, visiting relatives and friends.
What is your marital relationship status?
I am a single mother with two children.
What is your future plan?
Like anyone I would like to see myself driving a posh car, living in a good house with my children without forgetting my family at large. But on the career side I would like to see the film industry improving.