The race for the Miss Rwanda 2018 crown continues to get tighter as the number of contestants winds down to 20 from 35 following Saturday’s pre-selection which saw 15 girls dropped.
The 20 who qualified for the boot camp will tussle it out for the coveted crown on February 24 grand finale at Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) auditorium.
This year’s pageant is themed ‘Beauty, Brain, Culture’ and indeed judges struggled to select who to give a nod or drop from the 35 who were picked in the countrywide auditions.
At PSF Expo Grounds in Gikondo where the final pre-selection was held, it was a mix of sadness and happiness with those who were dropped leaving crestfallen while those who got the pass were overcome by joy.
RBA news anchor Friday James replaced his colleague Andrew Kaleba as MC, handling the difficult task of announcing those who progressed and those whose journey came to an abrupt end.
Following days of campaigning, fans of the contestants had turned up in their numbers, brandishing banners in support of their favourite contestants. Each girl was welcome by cheers and ululations which made it even harder for the judges to decide.
Each of the girls appeared before the judges for a question-answer session. It was an all-female panel of judges led by Miss Rwanda 2009 first runner-up Carine Rusaro, Kiss FM radio presenter Sandrine Isheja Butera and Francine Uwera Havugimana from the Private Sector.
The questions were quiet smart and were matching Rwanda’s current vision for development in all aspects.
They were focusing on Technology, sports, entertainment, tourism, security, youth empowerment and culture, among others. From the answers and overall impression, the judges came up with their final 20.
Of the 20 contestants who will head to the boot camp, the Western Province has the least number of representatives in this year’s edition with only two, namely Liliane Iradukunda, and Fiona Uwase.
Southern Province has the biggest number of representatives at the upcoming boot camp with 9 out of 10 contestants who passed the nationwide auditions making it through.
They include Lydia Dushimimana, Vanessa Irakoze, NoriellaIshimwe , Gloria Nzakorerimana, Shanitah Umunyana, Rebecca Umuhire, Jordan Mushombokazi, Anastasie Umutoniwase and Uwase Ndahiro Liliane, the ‘PASS’ winner who got automatic selection based on public votes. Only one, Mpore Marie Wivine, missed out on the boot camp.
Meanwhile City of Kigali has three representatives, namely Belinda Uwonkunda, Ingabire Belinda and Umuhoza Karen while Northern Province has Paula Umutoniwase, Natacha Irebe Ursule and Divine Ingabire in the final.
Eastern Province’s Charlotte Umutoni, Shemsa Munyana and Solange Uwineza made it through.
Lucky contestants who passed for the next stage will depart for a two-week boot camp scheduled from February 9 at La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata, Bugesera District.
While at the boot camp, contestants will learn how to develop their projects and implement them to impact the community.
They will also study the country’s history, values and taboos that shaped Rwandan culture, among other aspects.
In the boot camp they will also sit exams, both written and oral, in what organisers say is a ‘Prejudgment’ phase which will be key to select the final 10 contestants, to be decided on the final day.
How the girls fair in the boot camp will increase one’s chance of replacing reigning Miss Rwanda Elsa Iradukunda at the February 24 finale.
This time round, Miss Rwanda 2018 runners-up will also be reduced to two from four who were previously assisting the crown winner.
The winner will walk away with a brand new Suzuki Swift and a monthly salary of Rwf800, 000 courtesy of Cogebanque and a package of additional prizes that will include cosmetics and air tickets to international beauty contests from RwandAir, among other goodies from different sponsors.