The beauty queen’s childhood dream came true when she not only won the crown but was also named the most photogenic contestant. Her prizes include a car and a monthly salary, courtesy of one of the pagent sponsors.
By Athan Tashobya
Despite this moment being her childhood dream, Iradukunda didn’t expect to win the crown. She, as she describes herself, was one of the most bashful and soft spoken girls of the 20 who were competing for the crown.
Iradukunda almost didn’t even make it to the six girls chosen to represent her province. She earned her spot on the second run in the pre-selection on probation.
“Every stage of Miss Rwanda was a surprise for me. I was on probation but I had faith. I never gave up and God has been by my side,” she says.
Iradukunda completed Senior Six last year at APADE Kicukiro and her dream is to be a tour operator. Asked why, she says, “Because I love tourism. I will study tourism and become an investor in the sector.”
Her project is to promote cultural tourism, but she says that she will not limit herself.
“I know the other 19 girls had awesome projects too. I want to work with all the people around me to develop my country.
“I am still a little too excited to focus on anything now. I am just enjoying the moment and may be when I go back home, I will focus with the help of my manager,” she says.
Iradukunda was crowned ‘Rwanda’s fairest’ in a colourful finale held at the iconic Kigali Convention Centre auditorium.
She faced stiff competition from 19 other girls who spent 14 days in a boot camp at Golden Tulip La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata.
But, she says, Shanittah Umunyana and Natacha Ursule Irebe who were crowned first and second runner up, respectively, were a force to reckon with.
Iradukunda, who also scooped Miss Photogenic title, took home a brand new Suzuki Baleno worth Rwf18 million courtesy of Rwanda Motors, and will earn a monthly salary of Rwf800,000 for the next one year, courtesy of Cogebanque.
She also received additional prizes that include air tickets to international beauty contests from RwandAir, and cosmetics, among other goodies from different sponsors.
Iradukunda’s parents, Paul Ndoli and Chantal Uwimana, say that it was their daughter’s dream to be Miss Rwanda.
“Whenever she did something wrong at home I would tell her that it was contradictory to what Nyampinga (Kinyarwanda version for beauty queen) does and she would stop it right away. I am truly happy for her,” Uwimana, says.
Ndoli says that the family has been so supportive because that is what she wanted in life, and so “we had to support her through this journey.
“At home, Iradukunda is a humble girl and it is such a joy for us that she won,” he says.
Rwanda Inspiration Backup, the organisers of the annual beauty pageant, had prmised that there would be some changes this year.
Unlike previous Miss Rwanda editions, contestants had an oral test that was moderated by Sonia Rolland, Miss France 2000, and other judges. Results from both written and oral pre-judgement were key to determining the contestants who made it to the top 10. The results were announced during the grand finale.
Contestants sat for a written test to assess their knowledge about different government programmes, the vision and mission of the Miss Rwanda beauty pageant, and their role in society.
On the panel was Sonia Rolland, a Rwandan-French actress and Miss France 2000; former Miss Universe contestant and Miss Rwanda 2016 Jolly Mutesi – the first beauty queen to represent Rwanda at the Miss World finals; Sandrine Isheja Butera, a radio presenter; Gilbert Rwabigwi, the leader of Youth Literacy Organisation (YouLI), a non-profit organisation that promotes literacy and learning; and Teddy Kaberuka, the co-founder and chief executive officer of IO4 Progress Limited.
The Continental Radio Station (CRS) is an online radio station run by African media savvies targeting the African and world audience.