Confidence won me the crown – Aurore (with pictures)
“You have to be yourself in order to succeed, that is what helped me”
Now that the hectic days of the Miss Rwanda contest are over, one would think that the recently crowned beauty queen, Aurore Umutesi Kayibanda, is having a well-deserved rest. Not so. It’s back to school for the 20-year-old, who has just started studies in civil engineering at KIST.
Nevertheless, she managed to squeeze in some time for a one-on-one talk with The Rwanda Focus. Clad in tight blue jeans and a matching blue V-necked top, Kayibanda admitted that the switch from the frenzy of Miss Rwanda to the less glamorous setting of the auditorium is quite hard, but she is getting used to it again.
And her journey to becoming Miss Rwanda 2012 was frenetic indeed. Just before contesting, and winning, the selections in Southern province, she had been in Nigeria where she was representing Rwanda in a beauty pageant. “I had just arrived at about midnight and had to contest the next day,” Kayibanda recounted. “So when I won in my region, I became more confident – I knew that if I can win when I’m tired, then the sky is the limit.”
It wasn’t an entirely new experience, considering that Kayibanda has nearly three years of modeling under her belt. She was motivated in pursuing her dream to become a model by her elder sister, who worked at PMA modeling agency, which she also joined in 2009. Nevertheless, she admitted that the Miss Rwanda contest is still something different.
“Joining the Miss Rwanda 2012 beauty pageant was a milestone for me and was very exciting, but I didn’t expect to win,” she pointed out, adding that she thinks that what tipped the balance in her favor was that she was herself and she was confident – she went out there and had to display all that she had been taught in boot camp without any fear, and just believe in herself. “Many people thought I knew I was going to win, but that is not the case because the competition was very tight and all the other contestants had their own strengths as well; so it was not obvious that I would win.”
Another factor that was certainly determining for her victory was the fact that Kayibanda does not only have the beauty, but also the brains required for the contest. When the time came to answer the questions from the jury, she stood out for the elegance, composure, and maturity with which she replied, and which are unusual for a 20-year-old. Miss Rwanda herself gives credit for this to the boot camp, which she assured me was not a holiday – even though she talked about it with a smile, suggesting that she probably misses it. “Besides being taught a lot, it was also a life-changing experience to meet girls from different backgrounds because at some point we all learnt from each other and managed to accept and tolerate each other.”
Yet when I mentioned the allegations recently published in a local tabloid that she nearly pulled out of the contest while at boot camp, which it was said was due to the fact that she was already an experienced beauty contestant and refused to take part in certain activities that she thought were inappropriate, Kayibanda for the first time lost her calm, rubbishing the claims. “No such thing happened, all of us did what we were told; there was no such problem at the boot camp, that is a lie,” she said somewhat angrily, in a tone that suggested she was disappointed I even brought up the issue.
She quickly regained her composure, though, and told us we could check it with the boot camp captain Angel Uwamahoro. When contacted, the latter just laughed it off. “Those are baseless rumors, everything just went as planned and all the girls obliged,” she said.
Now the boot camp and the contest are long gone, and Kaybanda is settling in her role of Miss Rwanda 2012, which will bring a whole range of life experiences. One of these will undoubtedly be her participation in the next edition of Miss World in Jakarta, Indonesia in July next year, about which she is very excited. “I can’t wait to represent my country, I’m doing a lot of research and getting more informed about whatever is happening around the world, so that when I get there, answering questions will be easy.”
This will be the first time Rwanda will be present at Miss World, and Kayibanda said she expects to display even more than what she showed in Miss Rwanda, because the competition will be extremely tough.
In the meantime, she will not be idle, having to balance her studies with her activities as the national beauty queen. “Since there is a committee that has been set up with which I will be partnering, it will be easy,” Kayibanda said. “Besides, I’m flexible and it looks like most of the activities will be during weekends when I don’t have to be at school.”
Miss Rwanda will be partnering with the ministry of sports and culture to have an impact on the community through promoting girl’s education and enhancing the sensitization of ICT programs in different communities, among other charities.
What Kayibanda has apparently already learned in the short period since her election, is to carefully guard her private life. When asked about it, she did not venture a lot of information – in fact, just one thing: she is not single anymore but has a stable relationship.
As to what Miss Rwanda would advise to other girls who want to follow in her footsteps, it is basically to do what she herself did. “They have to be confident but also willing to learn,” she said. “Yet believing in themselves is very important.”