Just when we thought we had heard about every beauty pageant there is, it turns out there is one we should have heard about already, considering one of our own is at the helm.
Sharon Kazinga is the current Miss Top of the World, a title she won in December last year in Latvia, northern Europe. However, there was very little news, if any, of her win back home. A look into her background explains why.
Kazinga was born in London on December 28, 1994 to Stella Samalie Nakibugwe a cake maker and Noel Christopher Sebulinda, a senior newspaper distributor in W.H.C Smith.
Her life, therefore, is in London. This also explains her strong British accent, which this writer had a little of a hard time keeping up with.
It is in London that she took part in the Miss Uganda UK pageant in September 2013.
Although she did not win, she was the second runner-up and it is on that premise that she applied for Miss Top of the World.
Her application paid off when she beat hundreds of girls from different countries to the title.
Her journey to the world of pageantry is not lined with a passion for being in the spotlight and showing off her beauty to the world. Instead, it tells of just how far a parent’s influence can get you.
“At my first participation in the Miss Uganda UK, I didn’t have passion for it but my parents encouraged and forced me to join as they told the pageant manager, Jacqueline Matovu, to offer me special facilitation and trainings which worked out well thus my second runner-up position,” she reminisces.
Because she is a tall woman, at five feet 11 inches, her passion was to become an athlete. This is something she had participated in early on while still in school, taking part in regional and local competitions.
Her other passion is her academics. She studied in St Edmonton Elementary School, St Anne’s Catholic High School for O- Level, Fincheley Catholic High School for A- Level before joining St Charles Catholic School where she is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Media and Information Technology.
“In the last two weeks, I finished my exams and I’m now applying for international marketing and hope to start in September,” she happily shares.
At Miss Top of the World
“In Latvia, where the competition was, they usually don’t embrace black people, but I was amused that they welcomed me with smiling faces. They became friendly as they wanted to know about Uganda’s traditions and cultural norms.
I never hesitated to perform for them the Kiganda dance,” Kazinga says.
She adds, “I was nervous because the participants were speaking languages that I didn’t understand which made my communication with them difficult so I spoke mostly to the ladies from Commonwealth countries that knew English.”
The pageant offered luxurious benefits to the participants and Kazinga recalls spending time in five star hotels, attending parties, shopping for whatever she wanted, amongst other opportunities. “They footed all the expenses and offered us whatever we wished,” she says.
Despite the stereotype at such events of the winner being the blonde with the princess-style wave, Kazinga says, “the judges were focused on bringing out inner strengths and specific characters of the participants.”
“I think what made me win was the way I carried myself, that I was knowledgeable about Uganda, my good behaviour in the beauty camps and the way I presented my answers to the questions they asked,” she says on winning.
Not only did she walk away with a crown and money, she got several other prizes that any woman would envy. They included all the shopping she wanted from a mall of her choice in Latvia, free air travel to any destination across the world, free make up and spa services for a year as well as contracts with various companies for advertising campaigns.
With such perks, it is not surprising that Kazinga has only good things to say about the pageant.
“Compared to Miss Uganda UK where one participates with fellow nations, in Miss Top of the World, it is a very different platform where you meet new people, learn new languages and traditions.
But what I achieved most was confidence since I was in the company of many beautiful women in the pageant,” she says.
How pageantry has changed her life
“Before [pageantry], I was an athlete in school and the community so I had no time for high heels.
But when I joined the pageants I changed the way I dress. My shoes and clothes are more girly and I’m more comfortable with my body because during pageants, you can be asked to wear a bikini without warning,” Kazinga tells of the changes taking part in pageants have come with.
Her popularity in the UK earned her various opportunities like being an ambassador of a children charity organisation called Keith Heart Foundation, which caters for poor and disabled children who need medical assistance.
“My life has changed because I can’t do the simple things that I was doing before due to the some-what celebrity status that I have. Some media, especially the tabloids keep track of me which makes me uncomfortable at times.
I also changed my lifestyle because I am a role model to young girls,” she adds on the changes her life has gone through.
What she is up to now
When she is not at school, Kazinga is employed at an agency where she works as a hostess at different VIP events in England like football games, concerts, royal events and car races, among others.
On how she juggles all these activities, she explains that her school schedule is favourable since she has some free days. It is on these days that she attends to private work, pageant activities and catches up with any school work that might have been interrupted.
While Kazinga is happy about the life her parents’ dreams have got her, it is not a dream she wants to continue living.
“My dream is to finish my degree, then work in Dubai for an international marketing company. By that time I would have matured and have no time to concentrate on pageants, instead I would focus on my future,” she says.
Kazinga is beautiful so the question of whether some lucky man has already snatched her up comes up just as the interview comes to an end. She admits that she gets her share of compliments from men but that none has caught her fancy yet.
“I’m single and searching. I do want a man of good qualities to come into my life. However, he should know that I’m concentrating on my studies,” she concludes.
Tell us about pageants?
They are not about modelling as many people think. For one to win or participate, she has to be knowledgeable about their country on all topics; be it politics, current affairs and history. She should also be bold, intelligent and confident enough to speak to crowds.
Any tips to those aspiring to join pageants?
They must be prepared to obey all the rules given to them by the superiors in the pageants.
Have you ever had a crush?
Ha ha ha ... yes, but way back in A-Level. He was my friend but I had feelings for him. He didn’t notice them, however, so he saw me as a casual friend which hurt me a lot.
Tell us about your first love?
I can’t say anything bad about him but we just reached a mutual understanding and decided to call off the relationship. We are still friends.
Do you support women making the first moves?
It’s the 21st Century and so why not hit on him if you feel that he has the traits you want.
Would you date a man who is older than you?
Three to four years is okay, but if it exceeds that, I can’t.
Why do women fear commitment in relationships?
No, it’s men who don’t want to lay their loyalty in love yet women trust them a lot.
Why don’t some women also want to pay bills?
Women also have to foot bills because it shows independence and women shouldn’t rely on men always.
Your take on girls that go into marriage at an early age?
Imagine a girl of 21 rushing into marriage. They have to first graduate and focus on their studies because those men will dump them and move on with other girls thus killing their future.
What qualities do you look for in a man?
He has to be educated, ambitious, intelligent, have a good sense of humour and family background.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
No, I think love is a commitment between two people and not visual experiences.
What do you hate about yourself?
I’m afraid of animals. Whether it’s a cat, dog or chicken, I can scream if one comes near me.
Best movie genre?
African- American movies
Best music and artiste?
Afro beat and Jose Chameleone
Chapatti with eggs (Rolex)