COLOMBE AKIWACU was crowned Miss Rwanda 2014 in a glamorous ceremony held on Saturday night at Petit Stade in Remera, Kigali.
The teary 19-year old could not believe it as the crowd chanted her name amid ululations.
Akiwacu beat 14 others to the crown and walked away with a grand prize that included a brand new car, a return air ticket to France or Spain and a cash prize of Rwf2 million.
Akiwacu will also enjoy a one-year subscription at the Century Cinema and a shopping voucher worth Rwf100, 000 from Simba Supermarket, among other prizes.
The much anticipated show kicked off at 8p.m Rwanda time – two hours later than the stipulated time – with our own renowned Lion Manzi and Sheila Gashumba, from Uganda, hosting the show.
But by 5p.m, people had started trickling in for the grand finale and the mood of anxiety could be felt in air.
By the time the show kicked off, the venue was totally full with an eager crowd waiting for what the evening had to offer.
The crown holder, Miss Rwanda 2012 Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda, opened the show with a touching speech that mainly highlighted main activities, experiences and challenges during her reign.
The stunning beauty, clad in a shimmering gold dress complete with a silver crown, thanked the people that have worked with her and whoever supported her endeavours over the past two years.
Video profiles and experiences of the contestants at the boot camp were relayed for the audience, with sections of the crowd reverberating in thunderous applauses to each contestant’s profile before the catwalk kicked off.
The catwalk took four different forms as the contestants showcased traditional wear, African wear, casual wear and, finally, evening wear.
It was in between these sessions that judges asked them questions which the contestants answered fairly well, even though some of the answers were shallow.
Notably, the catwalks took forever, consuming huge amounts of time.
The judges at this point asserted that the criteria used to choose the very best of all equally followed international standards to ensure that Rwanda competes favourably at the Miss World beauty pageant.
They mainly considered; beauty, elegance, expression and the contestant’s vision.
It is from the same criteria that the panel came up with the top five announced in no particular order, thus: Carmen Akineza, Mouna Dukunde, Colombe Akiwacu, Marlene Mutoniwase and Belyse Hitayezu.
There were then good performances from the Active dance group and Mani Martin that drove the audience into the right mood for the final session.
A five year old from the pavilion also graced the entire audience as he courageously danced to their tunes which earned him short lived fame from a grateful crowd.
Bruce Mélodie also graced the audience with his live smooth ballads.
Later, the contestants were called back onto the stage.
Yvonne Makayuhi emerged both Miss Popularity and Miss Photogenic 2014, Marlene Mutoniwase turned out to be the Miss Heritage 2014 and the eventual second runner-up, while Melissa Isimbi became Miss Congeniality 2014.
Marlene Mutoniwase 22, the second runner-up, bagged Rwf1 million and a six months subscription from the Century Cinema, while Carmen Akineza, 22, who was attempting her luck on the crown for the second time, emerged 1st runner-up.
Akineza bagged Rwf1.5m and other exciting prizes. She had been the crowd favourite. Some had hoped that she would be the winner.
All the top three contestants also got shopping vouchers worth Rwf100, 000 from Simba supermarket.
However, the down side of things was that dozens of people walked away after the judges took long to determine the winners.
The panel of judges; Wilson Ruyenzi (chair), Jolie Murenzi, Judo Kanobana, Winnie Ngamije and Paula Mupfasoni was involved in long consultations, which led to the audience getting impatient.
Many people, including those who were watching on TV, took to social networks to express their frustration at the pace things were conducted.
“We expected a new Miss Rwanda on February 22, but we got her on February 23. Literally it took two days to pick Miss Rwanda,” joked Remmy Maurice Ufitinema, a local journalist.
Also to note is that the setting and runway were impressive but the sound was a disappointment. While she may not have been the crowd favourite, Akiwacu was the judges’ choice for the coveted crown.
She is Miss Rwanda 2014. Or will she wear the crown well into the second year judging by the experiences of her predecessors? Time will tell.
Whatever the case, we applaud her. Congratulations, Colombe.