Who is Jan Nakitende Mukiibi?
Jan is a 19-year-old pursuing a career as a medical doctor. I am a God-fearing born again Christian, born and raised in the UK. I live with both my parents Mr and Ms Janet Mukiibi. My father is an engineer and my mother a lawyer, both based in London. I am from a family of four; two girls and boys. I am the second born, with my elder sister living here (Uganda), but two of my brothers and I live in the UK.
You were born and raised in UK, how is your Luganda that good?
It is because there is a golden rule at home that the moment you step in the house, there is no more speaking English. Each English word you speak attracts a fine – you have to pay for it. So, they would fine me on several occasions and because I did not want to lose my money, I had to learn and speak Luganda.
Do you ever miss growing up and living in Uganda?
Definitely. I love it here because most of my family is here, the sunshine is here and good food is here. Since there are not very many Ugandans in London like it is here, you end up missing a wider picture of being a Ugandan. However, I am a person who loves my culture and heritage. So hard as it is, I try to stick to my roots. I listen to Ugandan music as much as I can. I love watching Ugandan TV shows, and news reports.
Did you also grow up doing house work like any other child?
Of course, I could not leave home without doing anything. I would mop the house; wash the dishes and generally clean around the home. I have to do house work just like any other woman.
Didn’t you find it complicated growing up in a White community?
Not really, because in class, there were both Black and White children and all different types of people. So, I grew up used to that diversity. I think it would have been a problem if I had first lived here before I went, but that is what I grew up seeing, so no. Racism is a touchy issue though; I would not want to go into it right now.
What inspired you to become a medical doctor?
I have always wanted to be a doctor since I was young. Not because any of my parents is a doctor. Every time I went to the hospital, I would admire the doctors and the way they did their work. So I started and I am now pushing and working to achieve that dream.
As a medical student, what has been your worst moment?
The first time I felt uneasy was the first time I saw an operation going on. Seeing doctors cutting into a person and getting the intestines out. Other than that, I try to remain strong.
Do you also work and study like many people do abroad?
I was working up until Christmas time last year. I was a nurse, taking care of children. But it became too much over time. I had exams coming, so I decided to first stop working, concentrate on my books and I can always work afterwards.
What did you do with your first salary and your savings?
I was working and saving over time. Last year, for the very first time, I bought myself a car. It is good to be financially independent.
Tell us about your journey of becoming MUUK.
I believe that as a person, one wants to have success. Beyond that, I looked at the helpless people and those who need a voice to raise awareness of the situations and circumstances they are going through. I wanted to be that voice.
What was the toughest question you were asked?
Everyone was asked one question but mine was; ‘What is your perception on the way that social media is impacting the youth today?’ In answering this, I did not just focus on one side, but I weighed the benefits and the negatives of social media. It can for example lead to cyber bullying – and this can cause suicide. Youth spend a lot of time on it, so it poses health problems. Some of the benefits are; you can use it to promote awareness as we are currently doing, since you can reach a wide range of people, but it is also used to make money, among others.
Didn’t you have any fears doing this?
I used to practise in the mirror. There was a lot of fear. Inside, I was shaking though on stage, people did not see it. You have to walk out with elegance and go with the flow. That is what I did. It was a tough competition with girls who had the looks and height, but that is not what the judges focused on. It was about the substance, and what you have to offer. It was about beauty with brains.
When you relate that to real life, what do you learn from that?
As beautiful as you may be, your beauty does not get you everywhere you need. One needs to develop themselves as a person, and it is very important to believe in oneself as well. If I was not confident in myself, I would not have managed to win.
But what does being Miss Uganda UK really entail?
I am now the face and voice running the sensitisation campaign against child sacrifice in Uganda. We are in touch with Uganda through social media and other platforms, meaning we know some of the things happening here. One of those is child sacrifice; children going missing and some being killed. And we are adopting the theme - every child is your child. Previously, it took a village to raise a child, but it is no longer the case today. We will be going to different primary schools to raise awareness so that children and parents know and learn about what is happening in their community and how they can be safer. We shall also have writing competitions in those schools about the topic of child sacrifice, so that it informs us about how much or little the children know about the issue and proceed accordingly. In the UK, I will interact with Ugandans on different issues and platforms.
This seems like a lot of work, won’t it affect your studies?
Of course, being a student is demanding and quite intense but I think it is about prioritising. I took on this position knowing that it would demand a lot and my education will also demand a lot, so it will be about me being able to manage my time; to define when it is time for studying and when to interact with people.
How do you keep healthy and your body in shape?
I am careful with what I eat; for example I do not eat fast foods on a daily basis. I have a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and good food. I also take a lot of water to keep my body healthy and I do a lot of walking.
What is the most expensive thing in your wardrobe?
It is a dress that I bought for 70 pounds. (about Shs363,000). One might not see that as expensive, but to a student, that is a lot of money to spend on one dress. I also spend a lot on my hair. This year alone, I have spent about 400pounds (about Shs2,077,000) on it.
What would be your message to Ugandan youth and ladies?
The message is, believe in yourself and in your dream. Work hard and you will make it. To women, we should work together as one instead of pushing each other down. And if you are there and you have a dream, don’t settle for less. All you need is belief in one’s self and always trusting in God.
How did you get into the beauty pageant?
Once, while on social media, I saw the pageant queens of Miss Uganda UK. The year before I contested (2016), I decided to go and watch the show to just see how it happens. While there, I was inspired by the girls on stage. I said, ‘This is something I would want to do.’ The following year, I applied to participate.
You are a young girl and still a student, how did your parents take it?
To be honest, I was hesitant to tell them. I did not know how they would react. However, I asked them in the start on how they felt about me contesting. They said no. I explained that this is what I wanted and that if they did not want to support me, I was going to do it alone. I then applied and slowly, they started coming on board and now, they are some of my biggest supporters.
Decsribe the contest. Many people think that one is voted because of their looks or height or general appearance. That is not true. We were many girls in the beginning, but we had only nine finalists. We had very intense rehearsals that went on for 13 weeks leading up to the final night. On that night, we met new judges who chose the winner.
The main things they looked at were; confidence, elegance, presentation on stage, eloquence, and the way you answered their questions. There was an option of voting by the public, but it was not the overall determinant of the winner. In the end, I won.
25 year old Gladys Kyotungire was crowned MUUK 2012
Tiffany Shine Kawah who was contestant no. 5. She emerged MUUK 2014 out of the 12 finalists, taking a central stage to showcase different aspects.
Beating nine other beautiful ladies was 18-year-old student Deborah Kabahinda. Kabahinda also won; Miss Talent, Best Catwalk and Best Evening wear.
Taking the crown of MUUK was 19-year-old Biomedical student Natasha Mutebi who was contestant Number 10. Mutebi also scooped three mini awards; Best catwalk, Best swimwear and Best evening wear.
25-year-old Bridget Katungi emerged the winner MUUK 2016. Katungi - contestant number 8 was also awarded The People’s Queen Award, Best catwalk and Miss Personality.