I now have a voice, says Miss Uganda
What you need to know:
Hannah Karema Tumukunde was crowned Miss Uganda 2023/2024. She took over from Elizabeth Bagaya who succeeded Oliver Nakakande. Tumukunde beat 20 other contestants on March 18 at the grand finale at UMA Multipurpose Hall Lugogo .
Did you ever dream of becoming a Miss Uganda some day?
As a child, I used to admire Miss Uganda winners and I always wondered what qualities made them win the pageantry. I did not know who was in charge, the procedure they used to participate and so on. I was in the village, so I did have a starting point.
So, how did you get in touch with the organisers of Miss Uganda?
During my senior four vacation, I joined Joram Model Management (JMM) and it was at that point that I got to know the people in-charge of Miss Uganda. Joram and the Miss Uganda foundation work hand-in-hand.
In December last year, I saw an advert, and I texted Joram. He encouraged me and I gave it a shot. I started following the whole campaign from regional tours and when they came to Kampala. I went for auditions. That is how I joined the pageantry.
What happens during the boot camp?
After selection from audition from different parts of the country, they choose a given number of women to take to the boot camp. For three weeks, everything you do is subject to scrutiny. How you associate with people, how you dress, how you treat others and execute other assignments and public speaking skills are all being monitored. It is also in the boot camp where Miss Popularity, Miss Congeniality, Miss Personality, Rising Woman and Miss Sports are all selected. A day after the boot camp is the grand finale. This is the day where judges ask questions to determine the winners.
You received overwhelming support at the grand finale. Why do you think so?
Teamwork did the trick. People were active on social media; they bought shirts, posters and placards during every activation and they supported me. I have just completed Senior Six, so most of the people who voted me were fellow students, then family members and friends who helped me mobilise others.
The crown comes with lots of tasks and responsibilities. Where does this leave your education aspirations?
As a beauty queen, I am still determined to achieve my education goals. I want to graduate someday. My eyes are glued on two professions at the moment- Journalism or Law.
How easy or complicated was the last question?
They asked us to talk about the hardships in our city and solutions to overcome those challenges. Looking back where I come from in Nakaseke District, one of the biggest challenges we face is early marriages and teenage pregnancies. I have seen girls who are forced into marriages at the age of 14, because parents want quick money and many parents in villages do not think girls amount to anything. That is why they do not educate them to the highest level. I want to see a change in the status quo. Give the girl-child an opportunity to study.
There were rumours that Whitney Martha, who was the first runner up, was actually supposed to be crowned Miss Uganda. How would you respond to that?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I cannot stop anyone from saying what they want to say, but you cannot deny what the judges saw and how they presided over the whole event. So the judges’ verdict stands.
Artiste Eddy Kenzo rallied behind you from the start and was among the first people to congratulate you upon this triumph. What is your relationship?
Eddy Kenzo is my good family friend. He made me feel that there are people who really support me genuinely and believe in me.
What are you going to be doing as Miss Uganda?
I am starting from my home district. I am going to campaign against early marriages, teenage pregnancies and also sensitise parents to educate the girl-child. The other project that is so dear to me is mental health. My sister beauty queens and I are going to be working on it under the Miss Uganda Foundation.
On top of the crown, you also received a car. Have you ever imagined owning a car at the age of 20?
Never in my entire life. It was a surprise. I do not even know how to drive it, but will be learning soon. I thank God for this achievement.
Is there more to Miss Uganda than getting a car and representing Uganda globally in Miss World?
The foundation has given me a lot. It has given me a foundation, a voice to achieve what I have always wanted to achieve. It has given me the opportunity to serve.
What are your chances at Miss World?
My chances are very high. I am aware that the competition is very stiff, but no mountain should be too high for anyone to climb. I confident I will win this too.
Who has been your best Miss Uganda among the previous queens?
Quin Abenakyo. She inspires me and I believe she did quite well during her tenure, bringing the Miss World Africa crown. She set the bar so high and those are the footsteps I am walking into.
You speak highly of her. Have you guys met yet?
Yes we have. She congratulated me, advised me on what and what not to do and said if I ever need help, I should not hesitate to contact her.
Before participating in Miss Uganda, what stories did you hear about the pageant?
I always heard that with Miss Uganda, you always have a voice and that is what I was always looking for. While growing up, my father has always been fighting teenage pregnancies but his voice alone was not enough so I always wanted to add on his voice but did not have a platform. When I heard Abenakyo and Nakakande fighting for teenage pregnancies, it was relatable and I knew this would amplify my voice.
Was your family supportive of you joining Miss Uganda?
Yes. After seeing what Abenakyo stood for, my father encouraged me. I explained my goals in this competition and my family supported me.
Tell us about your personality?
I am humble, I love associating with people, making friends and I love winning. I would like to be a humanitarian, life coach or counsellor. So, it is in my best interest that I complete my course.
Tell me more about your education background?
I am starting from my home district. I am going to campaign against early marriages, teenage pregnancies and also sensitise parents to educate the girl-child. The other project that is so dear to me is mental health. My sister beauty queens and I are going to be working on it under the Miss Uganda Foundation. With Miss Uganda platform, I have a voice and that is what I was always looking for.