Why I hate Miss Rwanda

 

 

 

 

 

(As you probably realize I have a guest blogger today, Janet K Karemera. Hope you all enjoy this, frankly, hard hitting piece of writing. I certainly did)

 

Well let me clarify on that. I don’t hate either the girls who unfortunately compete or the eventual winners. Actually I fully support young Rwandan women striving to achieve something, even if it is being considered the most beautiful girl in Rwanda. Everyone has their own goals.

 

If you live under a rock, unable to tune into any of the ubiquitous local radio stations, the 2012 Miss Rwanda will be crowned today at the Gikondo Expo grounds here in Kigali. This after a month of boot-camp where they underwent “intensive” social media training, discussed charity and entrepreneurship and learnt the most important thing a woman should know; how to maintain their hair.

 

This event is quickly becoming extremely popular amongst Rwandans and the PR campaign for the event is top notch. It seems like everyone will make the trip to Gikondo tonight. But before you go, I want you to ask yourself, what does this beauty pageant add to our society or the advancement of young women?

 

People will argue that it is good to see beauty pageants get introduced to our typically conservative society and yes, I will agree with them on that point. Our society DID need some local entertainment but I must ask, at what cost?

 

I don’t understand why the Government is supporting such events, which will cost a whopping Rwf 120 million, when we don’t even have sufficient local community centres where youth can participate in various programs.

 

You have the Ministry of Culture and Sports, Ministry of Education and the Rwanda Development Board amongst many other government institutions financially supporting this beauty pageant when you probably have schools in the rural areas that don’t have a library or a computer lab. The Ministry of Culture has decided to attach buzzwords like “tradition” and “culture” to this event so that it can be more acceptable to society while RDB has decided to put this under their tourism department. But, hold on a second, since when have young women become tourist attractions?!

 

Do the organizers understand the ramifications of teaching young women, that the easiest way to win a new car and attract certain notoriety is to have a certain standard of beauty and be able to sashay down a catwalk in an evening gown?

 

The winner of this year’s contest will have the opportunity to participate in the Miss World pageant. While this contest will give our winner the opportunity to travel the world, what is the overall damage at the end of the day?

 

The organizers need to realize that international competitions come with international standards of beauty. I have always believed that Rwandan women have healthy amounts of self-confidence and know that they derive their dignity and self-worth from what they achieve through hard work and not their looks. Major body image issues like eating disorders that result from low self-esteem and self-confidence are not common amongst girls here because they know their ‘Agaciro’. Once you begin to dictate what is the ideal height and weight of women, you run the risk of young girls concentrating more on how they look, rather than the more important things in life.

 

I’m very disappointed in the Government for attaching itself to such a farce. Especially when you have organizations like Imbuto Foundation working hard to empower young girls. Their educational programmes help create real self-confidence in young girls, by concentrating on the achievements that they work for and not the physical attributes they are born with. A Ministry of Culture official says that Miss Rwanda will help “promote young Rwandan women in both their intellectual and aesthetic qualities”. I did not know the aesthetic qualities of young Rwandan women such an important issue that the Government had to step in.

 

However, I DO know that one of our national development goals is to create a strong knowledge based society but instead of sponsoring and organizing national educational competitions like spelling bees, math competitions, science fairs, sports events, or investing in schools that develop real talent in the fields of music, drama, and dance , the Ministry of Culture and RDB has shown that flaunting yourself in a bikini and a nice dress will get your more recognized than your other natural talents.

 

In countries like the USA, they can have all the beauty pageants they want because they have developed various ways for young people to succeed in their interests like Scripps Spelling Bees or have schools like the world renowned Julliard School, where kids go to develop their artistic talents.

 

We need tore-evaluate our national priorities. What kind of future leaders, more especially women leaders, are we producing?

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14 thoughts on “Why I hate Miss Rwanda

  1. Penny says:

    Word, Janet. Say it loud! Thanks especially for mentioning Imbuto while ministries of gov are supporting the Miss Rwanda pageant. Good on you! The message this pageant and the supporters of it are sending to young women and girls is troubling indeed.

  2. Amazing, Janet! You definitely made me think deeper about this issue and your points should be well noted. Of course, I totally agree that the government should be investing more in establishing programs that promote, encourage, and nurture natural gifts and creative abilities ; ) Thanks for writing this.

  3. esther says:

    totally agree Janet,other programs like spelling bee or other talent detection programs should get much more attention…e.g look at ishyo arts going out of their location soon,part of that money could have saved the many talents that might be lost in the evacuation…. #Sad

  4. Nana says:

    *stands up, *claps, *beams with pride! thank you Janet!!! this should be retweeted a million times, I sure as hell will!!! you should blog, I’d read you!

  5. A concerned Rwandan says:

    The author of this article must be really ugly and have low self esteem- you can be smart and rock a dress! Yes i agree there should be spelling bees etc…BUT TO EACH HIS/HER OWN.If you don’t like it don’t ATTEND, stay home and watch movies.
    Many countries have beauty pageants,its not a new event, granted the standard of boot camp isn’t great, but maybe next time they will improve.
    We complain about the lack of entertainment… and here she is bitching!!!! Lady, take a seat!!

    • Mike says:

      The decency with which Janet articulated her opinion did not warrant “your must be ugly” comment for real. You may or may not agrre with her-perfectly fine! she also not expected to agree with you but that said, react to her opinion with counter arguments and BUT dont attack her person especially her physical looks which i believe you or I, dont know! With respect, i thank you.

  6. Mike says:

    What a great piece, Janet! Did u say the ministries that be are trying to attach words like “tradition and confidence” to beauty shows? What a fruitless struggle other than enriching the corporate machines taht really doesnt care which values we develop other than financial gains- the worst form of exploitation! How ironic!!, I would actually think young girls are developing the axact opposite. Wait before our young girls start developingeating disorders to struggle maintain societal templates of beauty. I have seen it here in US. What an abuse to the Natural beauty that flows from within! Thank u for bringing this to light, Janet

  7. I am not sure i agree completely with this article since I do not HATE Miss Rwanda. There is more questions asked than answers in this articles. Certainly, pouring 120 million on Beauty pageant – still trying to get a hang on the criteria for beauty on this Miss Event – when people are wondering about the ‘Agaciro Fund’, should give us a pause indeed.

    However:
    I) As for ‘Do the organizers understand the ramifications of teaching young women, that the easiest way to win a new car and attract certain notoriety is to have a certain standard of beauty and be able to sashay down a catwalk in an evening gown?’

    I am not sure that they are teaching anything by that. They were just rewarding. This is not more harmful than the Telecom company or the Brewing Company, Banks giving away free cars, Fridges, Houses to winners of non intellectual contest – just trying not to use the word ‘Luck’. Are we saying that those organization are teaching people that they should rely on luck to get what they want?

    II) “what does this beauty pageant add to our society or the advancement of young women?”
    Not much, except reminding folks that womanhood in Rwanda is celebrated in many ways than one. Gender equality at work, they’ll tell us i suppose.

    III) “But, hold on a second, since when have young women become tourist attractions?!”
    Maybe they should be. After all, we are told that we only have human resources as our natural wealth. 🙂

    IV) “While this contest will give our winner the opportunity to travel the world, what is the overall damage at the end of the day?”
    The overall damage will be that we will lose at an international level. That is guaranteed. And Rwandans hate to loose. That will be a hard pill to swallow, in few months.

    V) “Once you begin to dictate what is the ideal height and weight of women, you run the risk of young girls concentrating more on how they look, rather than the more important things in life.”
    I am not specialist in Rwandan girls, but aren’t we assuming too much here? I mean, do we really think that our girls do not concentrate on their looks? And to be honest, since the Miss Rwanda has for purpose to celebrate both extravagant beauty and intelligence (judging by the questions asked to the Miss) – it won’t be fair that only one aspect of it be taken as the representative of the Miss Rwanda influence on our girls. Both seemed to have been the purpose (though i ain’t confident the succeeded in any of the two – but that is another story for another time).

    VI) ” the Ministry of Culture and RDB has shown that flaunting yourself in a bikini and a nice dress will get your more recognized than your other natural talents.”
    Maybe they have not shown that as much as they have simply recognized it. We may not like but our world will always value, celebrate and overpay those with natural gifts, talents, natural beauty/physical attractiveness above those who have work long and hard on their characters. It is not fair, nor reasonable i concede but this is the world in which we live in.

    The question i am wondering is why should we value more sports, artistic talents than natural beauty or attractiveness? None of them are intellectually driven by essence, nor are they part of our core character building neither.

    Thanks for the courage and lucidity of your analysis on this issue though – Janet K.

    • Liz says:

      Even though this comment is older I have to say: Bravo! This year Mutesi Jolly will compete at the very first Miss United Countries and Miss World while Kwizera Peace will participate at Miss United Continents. I noticed this year’s contestants worked very hard to keep their promisses in really engaging in their projects which is really great and actually contributes a lot to Rwandan society – but introducing their work and their background on an international level would increase the audience for Rwanda as a whole tremendously. Unfortunately many people don’t know this country at all and if they do most associate it with war, hatred and poverty instead of the development that took place the last decades. Big international pageants like Miss World have Millions of fans so we have to take the chance to use this platform.

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