2013 in review: Pageants bringing beauty back to Rwanda

When the Ministry of Sports and Culture finally brought back the Miss Rwanda beauty pageant in 2009, almost seventeen years after the country last had one; the news was received with mixed reactions.
Reigning Miss Rwanda, Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda, won the Miss Pan Africa Music Festival (FESPAM) crown last year and below, beauty queens fight for the crown. Photos by Plaisir Muzogeye.
Reigning Miss Rwanda, Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda, won the Miss Pan Africa Music Festival (FESPAM) crown last year and below, beauty queens fight for the crown. Photos by Plaisir Muzogeye.

When the Ministry of Sports and Culture finally brought back the Miss Rwanda beauty pageant in 2009, almost seventeen years after the country last had one; the news was received with mixed reactions.

However, since then, those who have been crowned have been exemplary in their representation of the country outside as well as coming up with programmes to contribute towards the country’s development agenda.

With the crowning of Miss Rwanda, Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda in 2012 before she was also awarded the Miss Pan Africa Music Festival (FESPAM) crown; it is evident that the beauty contests have evolved and are being embraced by society.

This has also set an example for higher institutions of learning to embrace the initiative that has seen many universities have their own versions of beauty contests.

Institutions make the initiative annual


Students of higher institutions of learning have embraced the contest, something that has seen a good number of them contesting for the title each year.

Last year, Miss College of Business and Economics, (CBE), 2013, Elsie Ingabire beat other eight contestants in a tight contest to scoop the title.

In November, the school’s contest greatly improved and even became tighter based on the skills that contestants had as they took to the stage.  Samantha Ghislaine Uwase had a hard time emerging the winner from stiff competition.

“It was my dream to win the coveted title.  But I was not sure I could make it simply because I knew that the contest was very tight and each of us had the same aim,” Uwase said shortly after her crowning, calling herself lucky to have won the contest to be her institution’s ambassador.

In August, Kigali Institute of Management crowned Carine Umuraza and Floris Rutayisire, as Miss and Mr K.IM respectively, in a competition that attracted sixteen contestants. The two walked away with Rwf100, 000 each and a full year scholarship, among other prizes.

Other universities that have also had their beauty contests include the former National University of Rwanda, Rwanda Tourism College University, Umutara Polytechnic University, (UPU) and Kigali Institute of Education, among others.

Battle to win the crown 
 

The contests are a good tool to check the capacity and competence from a sample of students in higher institutions of learning. This is basically through the simple but tricky questions set to check on the intellect of contestants in addition to the usual catwalks and creativity that comes with the outfits they put on.

It is also a forum through which students learn to conduct themselves for either similar contests or even a job interview. The common sense questions are what one should not miss especially when some students turn it hilarious. For example, they fail to sing the national anthem or sometimes even fail to term or define common national programmes like the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).

At one point, it becomes tricky when judges are not comfortable with the language a contestant prefers to answer the questions. Contestants are mainly allowed to use three languages: English, French and Kinyarwanda.

It is at this point that most contestants lose out to smarter and more confident competitors. There are contestants who decide to use a language just because their fellow contestants have used it before, though they are not actually comfortable with it.

Giving beauty pageants value 

The culture of having beauty contests is just catching up as the public is yet to embrace wholly the real essence of having the events, which some believe cost the government. But it is evident it is rapidly catching up, with not only the youth being attracted to it but also government.

During the recent first ever  Miss Gender contest, won by Jacqueline Ingabire, a second year engineering student at Umutara Polytechnic, various government officials including Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Rosemary Mbabazi and Deputy Governor of National Bank of Rwanda Monique Nsanzabaganwa attended the event.

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