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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Losing isn’t an option for me - new Miss Uganda

Oftentimes, in the absence of her parents, about 13 years ago, a five-year-old girl would wear her Sunday best and smear her small lips thick with her mother’s lipstick, and after seeing her reflection in the mirror and making sure everything was alright, would frolic around the room proudly and gracefully like many little girls do.

THE WINNER'S SMILE: Dora Mwima, new Miss Uganda 2008 [Photo by Dennis D. Muhumuza]
This naughty but adorable little heroine had such fascination with fashion, beauty, and art that her parents were forced to buy her postcards and paintings of Italian and French models, which coloured her bedroom. She also drew her own pictures of landscapes and models on water colour paper and gazed at them obsessively.

The chance she had been waiting for came in August 2006 when she participated in the Miss Teen Kenya but was disqualified on account of being Ugandan. It was a blue day for the then 16-year-old but she vowed to do it again when she returned home. 

All is well, it is said, that ends well – thus it ended for the beauty on that glamorous night at Kampala Serena Hotel, where she was crowned Miss Uganda 2008, replacing the outgoing queen, Monica Kansiime. For a fleeting moment shortly before she was crowned, as she strutted across the stage in a self-designed creative outfit that she believes amplified her magnetism, with all eyes on her, Dora Mwima prayed in her heart: “Oh God, please give me this crown; I’m so not going to let you down; I’ll make everyone proud, please!”

It was a prayer said with the confidence of knowing she had her parents’ blessings. Her father, Mr Benjamin Mwima, is an evangelist who has travelled to over 150 countries preaching the gospel. Her mother, Ms Imelda Mwima, also did her best to encourage her.

“My family supported me because they have always known about my dream to succeed especially in the fashion and modelling world,” said the 5’6 girl. “They know that I’m a strong Christian and that God does not look at the outside but inside, and that it doesn’t matter if I participate in this show, which many think is immoral.”

Beating 17 other equally stunning beauties to the crown was a remarkable feat for the 18-year-old, who at the same event was voted Miss Personality.

“I think I deserved all this because of my character, my attitude and my behaviour,” she said confidently. “I’m more than unique, courageous, and more than confident; and above all I don’t fear failure at all.”

It’s this lethal combination of uniqueness, courage and fearlessness, she said, that will help her make history as the first Miss Uganda and the second African after Agbani Darego in 2001, to become Miss World when she represents the country at this year’s pageant in Ukraine.

“Why not? Who says that a Miss Uganda can never become a Miss World?” she poses her own questions and answers them: “I’m not going there to merely represent my country but I’m going there with all my zeal to bring the Miss World crown home.”

She speaks with a strong will and a fierce determination this girl, and for a moment you wonder where hails all this boldness, seeing as she has been home- schooled from all her life. It’s more of an American system and she says she has been trained by her mom with a professional supervisor dropping in occasionally with exams.

For someone who is inspired by God and not man, she’s quite something. Fluent in English, Swahili, French, Luganda and Greek, and with the exposure attained from travelling with her Dad to many countries, this Tororo girl has an independent outlook on life and has set high goals which will definitely help propel her further during the Miss World contest.

Ms Solaya Zalwango, the director of MKM Promotions, the official Miss Uganda organisers says: “We’ve scouted girls before but this is the first time we had someone like this; someone that young women will want to be like. She has a very good chance of winning Miss World; in fact if she drops out in the first lot, I’ll be so disappointed.”

The big-hearted beauty wants to help the hopeless; the people who have come to their endpoints and don’t have the spirit to face another day: “I’m going to go out to hospitals and orphanages, talk to people, and encourage them. I volunteered in Aga Khan in Kenya so I have experience at sharing with people and I know I can do it.”

She also wants to build something for her community in Tororo on her plot of land, given to her by her father when she was a child.

“Perhaps an institution for ladies; a clinic, or a school; once I‘m sure of what it should be, I’ll just develop the idea,” she says.

When reminded that some of her predecessors promised much but did little, this third of four children said, “I cannot do everything, because I’m only one, but at least I can do something and I will never refuse to do what I can. I will do it will all my heart. I want to work with the Miss Uganda organisers and any well-wisher who loves to see this Ugandan succeed in her vision of reaching out to the hopeless and needy.”

One thing Mwiima will never do is pose nude for magazines. In her own words: “Not even a million bucks are worth everyone out there looking at my goodies.”

It’s clearly the voice of an articulate girl who likes sweet potatoes as much as she likes listening to instrumental music and soft rock, reading motivational books, and visiting new restaurants, shopping malls and boutiques “to gaze at the different designs and know what’s on the fashion market and all that.”

With an innocent exterior, a dark smooth skin, bright eyes, a smile made more dazzling by pure white teeth, two little pins on her nose and a commanding height and warm personality, Dora Mwima is quite memorable; the kind of person you look at and want to look again.

Sorry guys, no boyfriend, right now she’s focused on accomplishing her dreams as Miss Uganda, and then she will fly to France or Italy for professional studies in interior design, fashion and art.

Her parting words after this interview, done at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, were inspirational - “I don’t see any virtue in losing. This society wants people who win.