Colombe Akiwacu’s reign as Miss Rwanda comes to an end this weekend as a new beauty queen is unveiled at the grand finale of Miss Rwanda 2015 Beauty Pageant. Akiwacu’s reign as Miss Rwanda was marred by allegations of mismanagement.
The New Times’ Doreen Umutesi caught up with Akiwacu for insights into how her reign faired. Excerpts below;
How would you sum up your experience as Miss Rwanda for the last one year?
As a young woman, I have done and achieved a lot as Miss Rwanda and I can say it was an eye opener and a great experience. Just to mention a few of the projects, interacting with the youth in different parts of the country on various projects is what stood out for me.
In partnership with Rwandan museums, we had a holiday week with children, learning about our culture and weaving baskets and many other key issues in our history. I must confess, I also learnt a lot during this project.
Besides the Walk to Remember, we were able to visit Genocide survivors in different parts of the country to comfort them and spread the message of hope. We had talks with children about genocide. I remember the children were confused about the Genocide and they asked questions about the perpetrators and the killings, we explained to them everything and I believe they learnt a lot.
I was involved in various charity activities and fundraisers. We were able to raise money for Mutuelle de Sante to help about 114 orphans in Kimisagara to easily access medical care and live a healthy life. We still have an ongoing project to build houses for Genocide survivors in Rwamagana District in Kigabiro Sector, Gwiza Cell.
I was also able to represent Rwanda in various places. For example, because of the project we worked on with youth known as Rwandan Youth Alliance for Climate Actions (RIACA) which is about issues to do with climate change, I was invited to the United Nations Climate Summit and it was great experience and great exposure because I was interviewed about the climate in Rwanda and many other issues.
I also represented Rwanda in the East African harvest, where I met Miss Uganda and Miss Tanzania. It was a lovely time because we showcased and celebrated our cultures. I taught them how we prepare our meals in Rwanda and how we do the traditional dance.
Were your expectations met?
As Miss Rwanda, I gained a lot of experience in different ways. However, I was not able to participate in other beauty contests.
There were issues about mismanagement, how were you able to deal with them?
My main challenge was the management issue but I was able to push through with the help of family and friends, especially my father. As a student, I have been working on the projects during the day and going for classes in the evening. I’m happy that we were able to finish most projects. I really wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone who believed in me and worked with me.
What is your advice to the soon-to-be crowned Miss Rwanda 2015?
My advice is a simple; she should know what she wants to achieve. She should set goals as the yardstick of what she will achieve. She should uphold Miss Rwanda‘s name and maintain its dignity. I will be supportive and give her any kind of assistance anytime she needs it.
What was your lowest moment as Miss Rwanda?
My lowest moment was during the time when all media outlets published stories about my management issues and about the car issues. But the comfort and support of family and friends helped me push through.
What was your most memorable moment as Miss Rwanda?
There have been many beautiful moments but the invitation by Ban Ki Moon to attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit stood out for me. It was a clear indicator that the work we were doing as Rwandan Youth Alliance for Climate Actions (RIACA) was not in vain. It was so exciting that at some point while reading the invitation, I even jumped around like a little child. (she laughs).
Is there anything you’d like to say before handing over the crown?
I wish to thank everyone that has been there for me through this reign. I want to let them know that I love them very much. I also want to advise the youth to always pursue their dreams and do their best to achieve them. No one was born to fail. We all have our moments so let’s use them.
What are your future plans?
Besides continuing with my studies, I plan to participate in other regional and international beauty competitions. As a business woman, I’m going to focus on my Miss Colombe clothing boutique that is located in town.