BEAUTY WITH A PURPOSE: Uganda has beautiful women. Sections of society and organisations are choosing to tap into the beauty to drive causes aimed at making a change by drumming up efforts to promote tourism, fight stigma, promote environmental causes and protect those marginalised Edgar R. Batte writes.
Beauty pageants if entrenched in positive values are a great way of uniting communities, providing role models and giving young people through exposure. This year, several pageants took place that reinforces the perception that beauty is more than an individual’s appearance. Judges are interested in the contestant’s character, their poise and mindset. Here are the best queens that were crowned this year.
Miss Uganda- Quiin Abenakyo
Ugandans are still celebrating Miss Uganda, Quiin Abenakyo’s impressive participation at the Miss World. Abenakyo has made history as the only Ugandan to ever make it to the top five list at Miss World finals in China. Abenakyo who was three places away from the Miss World 2018 crown, was crowned Miss World Africa. The 22-year-old has since revealed her purpose was to bring some positive attention to the Pearl of Africa. The brilliant and stunning computer science graduate hails from Mayuge, in Eastern Uganda and was brought up in an extended family in Mulago Kampala. When asked what inspired her to contest for the Miss Uganda crown, she said that she felt compelled to live up to her name Quiin by becoming a queen in reality.
Abenakyo was born premature, at seven months, and had to be in an incubator. In an interview with this newspaper’s SQoop, she explained that her mother told her she was a very tiny little baby, and, when she miraculously survived the ordeal, she named her Quinn (from the title Queen).
“That I was a very special child to her. I did not want to soil my name with bad actions,” she says, adding she has always endeavoured to live a disciplined and obedient life. She believes that the name has also shaped her destiny as seen from her recent Miss Uganda win.
Miss Tourism - Margaret Kankwanzi
Margaret Kankwazi was crowned Miss Tourism 2018/19 pageant held under the theme, ‘Let the Pearl Shine’. The winner is 22 years old, and hails from Kigezi, Kisoro District. Her win ends the reign of Elma Challa. Kakwanzi is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Tourism at Makerere University. Her hobbies include travelling, reading and socialising. She intends to use her one-year reign to promote domestic tourism particularly among young people through school tours in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Also on her agenda is promotion of sanitation and road safety, as well as conservation through tree planting. Kakwanzi whose biggest advantage is public speaking, is currently in Malaysia where she is contending for the Miss Tourism International crown. Twelve regions competed for the crown this year and contestants were called upon to spread knowledge about their respective regional clusters.
Uganda, as a travel and tourism destination, is blessed with many attractions. It has the source of the mighty River Nile, the world’s second largest fresh water body; Lake Victoria, biggest population of the world’s Mountain Gorillas, different bird species and wildlife in their natural habitats, diversified cultures, religious tourist places, beautiful weather, a friendly people, vibrant nightlife and a lot more.
The Miss Tourism pageant patron, Marianne Naava reiterated that the main objective of Miss Tourism annual pageant is to promote Uganda’s tourism potential to Ugandans and the world.
Miss Earth - Josephine Mutesi
Mother earth is at the core of her ideals and becoming Miss Earth is something Josephine Mutesi embraced. She would like to use the crown to mobilise children, and adults alike, towards efforts to plan trees and properly dispose of waste.
She is using social media to reach out, using 5Rs which are Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Respect. The Miss Earth pageant channels its efforts towards promotion and preservation of the environment.
“We as humans are the biggest enemy to the earth. Things we do like deforestation, releasing wastes to the environment, swamp reclamation to mention but a few, will in turn lead to climate change which is the biggest threat to humans,” she explains.
According to World Bank, climate change, along with rapid urban growth and the subsequent development of informal settlements, has had a major impact on the city’s natural environment, according to the report The three-year-old report, titled ‘Promoting Green Urban Development in African Cities: Kampala, Uganda Urban Environmental Profile’, estimates that 40 per cent of Kampala’s population lives in informal settlements predominately developed near wetlands throughout the city, without basic infrastructure such as water services, storm drainage, sewage treatment and solid waste collection. Efforts by Mutesi, if appreciated could contribute to reversing the wrongs. She is an environmentalist but a pharmacist by profession. She beat 13 contenders from different districts, around the country, to take the crown. She represented Uganda at the Miss Earth International Beauty Pageant in Philippines.
Miss Albinism - Olive Auma
Being an albino is not all fine and safe, at least not in some African societies where people associate it with negative misconceptions and superstitions. There is a belief in sections of African society that albinos possess power that can be used by those who practice witchcraft to aquire wealth and power.
For this, reports and stories of albinos living under fear for being killed are common in Africa. Olive Auma is Miss Albinism, and will use her crown to sensitise society about myths and misconceptions.
Perhaps even the 20 contenders she beat in the beauty contest will join her and other people and activists to protect people with albinism, as lay people who deserve to live a meaningful life, away from having to look over their shoulder.
United Nations describes, albinism as a rare, noncontagious, genetically inherited condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light.
Auma is a health practitioner, and hails from Moroto District. The pageant was held last month under the theme, ‘Beauty Beyond Skin’ under the auspices of Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism (SNUPA).
Auma, participated at a regional pageant held in Nairobi, headlined by Albinism Society of Kenya. It was held at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are united to protect albinos and restore their dignity in society.
Miss Y+ Vivian Alice Nabanoba
“Having HIV does not render you vulnerable... You are stronger than you think, thanks for watching,” Vivian Alice Nabanoba wrote on her Facebook post earlier this month after being crowned Miss Y+ 201.
The pageant, organised by Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/Aids (UNYPA), aims at ending stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/Aids.
The network’s mission is to create an enabling environment for all young people living with and affected by HIV/Aids to meaningfully participate equally in development of programmes that improve their livelihood.
Nabanoba is from Alive Medical Services and will use the crown to give confidence to fellow young people to live a productive, fulfilling life by being bold, confidence and successful.
According to Avert, an organisation that empowers people through knowledge so that people can make informed choices and live healthily, there are an estimated 1.3 million people living with HIV.
It puts the adult HIV prevalence at 5.9 per cent, new HIV infections at 50, 000 people and 26,000 dying from Aids-related illnesses. Seventy three per cent of adults with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment while 68 per cent of children with the virus are on the same treatment.
Nabanoba won the crown alongside Alvin Mugume who took the crown as Mr. Y+. The duo stood out for their confidence when it came to presentation about the subject of HIV as well as showcasing creativity. The pageant attracted some 90 contestants countrywide.