At 17, Barbine Mutoni, a Senior Six Student at Lycee De Kigali (LDK), has already made a name for herself by being crowned the winner of the inaugural Miss High School beauty pageant. But she says she has her eyes on an even bigger crown – Miss Rwanda. Mutoni spoke to The New Times’ Athan Tashobya about her life, values and ambitions. Excerpts:
Q. Give me a glimpse into your family.
I am the last born in a family of six; four girls and two boys. We have parents and are a happy Christian family.
Q. Between inner and outer beauty, what’s more important to you and why?
I believe inner beauty is more important since it truly defines beauty.
Q. What’s your take on pornography and abuse of social media by teens?
It is a really bad thing that teenagers are into these habits and they should be prevented by all means because these things have a negative influence on teenagers, especially their mentally. I would encourage the use of social media in a more beneficial way like spreading peace or as an educational platform for the youth of Rwanda.
Q. In light of recent experiences should teens be allowed to go to bars?
No it’s illegal and should remain as such. I think if it was legalised, it would negatively influence teenagers.
Q. What is that one ability or quality that you would want to wake up to tomorrow?
Good decision making. I would want to be able to make the best decisions in any field and to take the decisions at the right time.
Q. What is your greatest accomplishment thus far?
Uhmmm (stares at the roof while biting her finger nails), being Miss High School 2014. But there is more I hope to accomplish that is even better…like Miss Rwanda!
Q. What is the first thing you see when you get up in the morning and look into the mirror?
I see God’s creation, His own image. I see a young lady who is really passionate.
Q. How do you handle peer pressure when it goes against your values?
I do not let go of my values. If the pressure is too much, I will leave my peers if need be.
Q. If you could go back and re-live your life, what part would it be and why?
Actually, if I re-lived my life, I would not change anything. I would live it as I did and still do.
Q. Tell me about one bad decision you have made so far.
Well, I do not remember any. Perhaps that’s a question I’ll ask my parents or my teachers? They tend to watch me closely.
Q. What do you indulge in during your free time?
I pray or listen to music. Those two complete my life.
Q. What is Rwanda’s greatest quality?
It’s beauty. Rwanda is so beautiful even foreign tourists visit because of that. I think that is a great quality.
Q. Your favourite teacher?
Mr. Mukasa. He is my entrepreneurship teacher. He teaches very well and sometimes makes nice jokes. Apparently he hasn’t been able to pronounce my name well for so long now (laughs).
Q. Who is your favourite musician locally and internationally?
King James and Imagine Dragons, respectively.
Q. Who do you admire most and who is that one person that inspires you?
Pastor Rick warren! He wrote the book titled; “Purpose Driven Life” and that has inspired my life. I admire Oprah Winfrey. She went through a lot in her childhood but eventually became a global icon.
Q. What is your opinion about Umuganda (monthly community service), and what’s your take on the majority of your fellow teens who choose to stay in bed during the communal exercise?
Umuganda is a noble programme. Besides cleaning our surroundings, it helps us to come together and discuss issues taking place in our communities. I would encourage teenagers to participate in Umuganda instead of sleeping.
Q. If you were to give me a tour of Rwanda, what would be your places of choice to visit?
Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (at Gisozi) and Akagera National Park, those two are my favourite destinations because of their rich history.
Q. What was the best advice you received about entering the Miss High School Pageant?
I was informed I will be acting as an ambassador for Rwandan girls that are still in high school and also be advocating for various girl child policies, including education.
Q. What did you learn from the competition?
I learnt to live with many people and to know that my friends’ achievement is mine too and mine is theirs too.
Q. If there was one thing you could change about the High School beauty pageant, what would it be?
I would try to include many more contestants from more schools, especially from other provinces.
Q. Can you be counted on to do what you say you will do?
Yes, my fellow teens should trust me. I believe I will deliver.
Q. What is your take after reading about the various issues surrounding the Miss Rwanda crown? Would you still go for the national beauty queen crown?
I think being Miss Rwanda is not the problem. The problem is who gets that title. I would go for the national beauty crown, especially because I want to make an impact.
Q. If you had $2 million dollars, where would you spend it in the area of education?
I would use it to encourage more students to take on Science subjects and help develop Information Technology (IT) facilities in the country. All this would help us develop faster as a country.