On the night of December 18, 2009, all Rwandans glued on their TV screens and, those without the luxury of television, tuned in to local FM stations to know who would be crowned Miss Rwanda.
It was the first Miss Rwanda Pageant after 17 years. The Ministry of Culture and Sports (MINISPOC) which is in charge of the Miss Rwanda project signed a five-year sponsorship contract with Rwandatel and the event was largely a success in its first year.
As planned, the contestants were selected from their respective provinces to compete at the national level. A month-long boot camp was organised for the selected finalists, where various interesting activities were held to prepare the contestants for the finals.
The first boot camp was held at Serena Kivu Hotel in Rubavu and, thereafter, in Nyarutarama, a posh suburb of Kigali City.
The eventual winner, Grace Bahati, who was 18 years old at the time, was chosen by a panel of five judges, who included, Miss France 2000, Sonia Rolland Uwitonze. She walked away with grand prizes, including $10,000 from Hooters, a brand-new Suzuki worth Rwf24 million and a fully financed trip to the United States by Atlanta based novelist, Elizabeth Dewberry.
Despite the support from the government, Miss Rwanda contest never took place last year due to lack of proper planning of the sponsor. The Ministry of Culture and Sports has since terminated the contract with Rwandatel.
Speaking to The New Times, the Advisor to the Minister in the Ministry Culture and Sports, Lauren Thecle Makuza, revealed that Miss Rwanda 2010 Pageant was delayed due to certain factors.
Makuza said: ‘Its not that the pageantry was canceled, it’s a serious project and that’s why we thought its best we sit and discuss on how to manage it with proper strategies to make it sustainable.”
“One of the factors that delayed the pageant was because the Ministry didn’t agree with Rwandatel, on how it wanted to organise the Pageant. Basically the organizer is MINISPOC. So we didn’t expect the organizer to be at the same time the sponsor,” he added.
Makuza revealed that the 2011 Miss Rwanda Pageant is scheduled for July, but he did not specify the date, or the new sponsor.
In a bid to avoid further delays, Makuza noted the Ministry has set up a Miss Rwanda Committee which will be in charge of the preparatory activities. The committee will vet any interested sponsors.
“Initially, we thought that giving the project to the sponsor would be the best, but it turned out that many people were disappointed by the way Miss Rwanda 2009 was managed; that’s why the Ministry decided to manage it again,” Makuza explained.
The Corporate Communications Manager of Rwandatel, Cleophas Kabasiita, however, said the company discussed with MINISPOC about the possibility of running the Miss Rwanda Beauty Pageant for 5 years, but their talks were not finalized. As such, no agreement was reached, she said.
She added “LAP Green (majority shareholders of Rwandatel) blessed this event and held similar big events throughout its operations in 2009. Unfortunately, for the year 2010, the Pageant was not in LAP Green’s plans, as they chose to focus on expanding their networks.”
“As of now, Rwandatel Ltd has no immediate plans to hold the beauty Pageant,” Kabasiita noted.