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Rwandan contestants eye Miss Africa Calabar 2020 crown

A cross section of young women who participated in the Miss Africa Calabar 2020 auditions at Hotel Villa Portofino, in Nyarutarama, on October 25. / Photo: Courtesy.

The search for the young woman who will fly to Nigeria to represent Rwanda at the fifth edition of Miss Africa Calabar continues as auditions, which were held on October 25, at Hotel Villa Portofino, Nyarutarama, saw five girls go through to the next stage of selection.

The annual continental beauty contest is organised by the Nigerian Cross River State. It aims at promoting lifestyle through fashion, beauty, nature and charity.


The selected top five contestants are vastly dominated by former Miss Rwanda participants in recent editions.


They include Brune Rutaremara Ikirezi and Aisha Uwase, who participated at last year’s Miss Rwanda as well as the beauty contest’s 2018 contestants Yassipi Casimir Uwihirwe and Irene Murebwayire.


Belyse Gacukuzi, the only new face in the local beauty competitions, completed the top five.

The contestants in the beauty pageant sashayed in bathing suits‭ ‬and also participated in the question and answer session‭. ‬A contestant performs traditional Rwandan dance‭, ‬as one of the criteria for the aspirants to showcase their talents‭. ‬

During the auditions, each of the contestants would pass before the jury for a five-minute question-answer session, which focused on green technology and humanity.

On the panel was Rwanda’s popular MC and show host Ange Umulisa, Rwanda Television’s presenter Christelle Kabagire, Miss Africa Calabar 2019 Irene Ng’endo Mukii, as well as Miss Africa Calabar’s Brand Consultant Fem A. Oyelade and his deputy Tony Adesina, both of whom brought the auditions to Kigali.

During the auditions, the jury considered skills, stage presence, casual wear, bikini session, catwalk and beauty of a contestant while deciding who goes through and who stays.

Contestants were, among others, asked to showcase at least a talent that they can perform best during the grand finale. Many did their best to impress the jury through poetry, traditional and modern dances, and motivational speaking.

The return of swimsuits

The idea of a Rwandan young woman showing up in a bikini at an international beauty pageant has for the past few years been a hot topic among Rwandans, with many arguing in favour and others against the girls donning the two-piece outfit.

Proponents of culture say the bikini dehumanizes and exposes the girls and that it should be optional while others say it is a standard in beauty pageants and Rwandans girls shouldn’t be exceptional.

In 2016, Colombe Akiwacu became the first Rwandan contestant to boldly wear a bikini at a beauty contest when she competed in the preliminary swimsuit showcase during Miss Supranational global in Krynica-Zdroj, Poland.

The Miss Rwanda 2014, however, garnered more criticisms than praise from Rwandans when her photos circulated on social media, with many condemning her that she had violated the country’s cultural norms.

And, as time goes by, Rwandan contestants have been stuck between wearing or not wearing the bikini. However, during the Miss Africa Calabar 2020 Kigali auditions, contestants seemed to have gained the confidence to wear it.

As the bikini catwalk started, the jury requested the audience to switch off their phones to prevent them from taking videos without permission. However, the majority of the girls turned up with a piece of cloth wrapped over the bikini.

The jury will announce the top three within a week from whom Rwandans will decide who represents the country at the beauty contest, through online voting via, before the winner is announced on December 1.

This is the first time Miss Africa Calabar auditions have come to Kigali as a Rwandan representative in previous editions had to be randomly picked to participate at the beauty contest.

Oyelade told The New Times that he was impressed by the contestants’ performance and believes that they have what it takes to challenge for the crown.

“They are eloquent, they are so intelligent and beautiful, and their catwalk was fantastic. They can always improve of course because it’s a competition,” he said.

This year’s edition will bring together contestants representing 25 different countries across Africa, including host nation Nigeria.

The winner for this year’s pageant edition will be announced during the beauty contest’s glamourous grand finale slated for December 27 in Calabar, Nigeria.

She will replace Kenyan Irene Irene Ng’endo Mukii, last year’s crown winner, and will walk away with a cash prize of USD 50, 000 (Rwf 47 million) to successfully implement her winning project.

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