|East African contestants for the Miss World title 2004 are all 19 and, writes BOBASTLES OWINO NONDI, ravishingly beautiful. He attempts an introduction of the beauties in this article.
Faraja Kotta, Miss Tanzania
What were you doing before you became Miss Tanzania?
I was involved with UNICEF and other NGOs for the advocacy for children’s rights, especially the girl child. I coordinated human rights programmes and facilitated proper sanitation for the under-privileged. I also worked as programmes co-ordinator for Clouds FM radio station.
How did you decide to compete at the beauty pageant?
A friend with whom we worked with at Clouds FM persuaded me to do it. Has it been easy walking to the top of Tanzania’s catwalk? It has been a very a long and tedious journey. It started at the zonal level, then went through the municipal, regional and national stages culminating in my being declared Miss World Tanzania. Which are some of the goals you have set out to achieve in, as you say, “bringing happiness to all Tanzanians”? I want to be a goodwill ambassador of various non-governmental organisations. As an ambassador I intend to expand my focus and create a balance in society by raising funds to help the less privileged, especially women and children.
Are you making any special preparations?
I just do things normally, the way I used to do them. I eat normally, and swim a lot. I am an integrated and dynamic person so timetables wouldn’t fit in well.
What would you like to do in future?
My ambition is to become a diplomat. Once I am through with my law degree course at the University of Dar es Salaam, I will join graduate school for further studies. At some point I hope to get a job then get married and raise several children.
Please introduce yourself
I am 19 years old, stand 1.68m tall, have just completed high school and am about to join university for a course in computer technology.
What made you compete for the Miss Uganda beauty title?
It is a dream I’ve always had. I wanted to be a beauty queen. At some point I was not sure but I got encouragement from my fellow students, work colleagues and my family.
So this was your first time in a beauty contest?
It was my first time ever in a beauty pageant
Has this crown changed you in any way?
It has changed me a lot. I can’t just go out with my friends any more. You are supposed to be in the places you are meant to be. I have also gained more confidence as I have more responsibilities than before.
What would your winning the Miss World title mean to you?
My country would be so proud of me and I would use the opportunity to shed light on my country and the situation in the north where the war between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and the Uganda People’s Defence Forces has devastated people. I would stand up and air the suffering in my country.
What is your motto?
Always try and fail, but never fail to try.
Juliet Atieno Ochieng, Miss Kenya
When did you develop interest in the catwalk?
I often flipped through the pages of fashion magazines and marvelled at how dashing and glamorous the girls who modelled looked. This is how the interest developed.
So how did your journey into beauty pageantry begin?
I did not start straight with Miss Kenya. So this was not my first attempt at the pageants. Last year (2003), I heard of Miss Tourism contest and entered the provincial contests in Nyanza. I was ranked second runners up as I was said to be too young. Then I again tried Miss Kenya this year and I was shocked when I won.
How do you find the catwalk?
Every moment on stage brings happiness to me. My happiest moments are when I am on the runway. I love the catwalk so much that I always break into a wide smile. While I am a shy person naturally, I get all the confidence when strutting out before a cheering crowd.
How do you feel to know that you are among the top ten Miss World 2004 favourites?
It is very exciting. When I saw my face as one of the top ten favourite contestants, I was so excited that I cried.
How have you prepared for the finals in China?
I have read widely to ensure that I fit in with the other competitors. I also browse the Internet and I have been able to view all the competitors and their profiles. I plan to make the other competitors my friends. I know God and my late parents are watching over me. I can feel them at my side. I can hear them urging me on. Every morning I talk to God and ask for his support.
What are some of the obstacles you have faced on your way up?
When I entered the provincials in Nairobi, my weight worked against me. I was too heavy. With 40 inches around the waist, I could not have qualified. So I exercised a lot and went on diet.
What beauty regime do you undergo?
I simply wash my face with warm water and soap, and apply Fair and Lovely. In the evening I wash it off. I add baby powder, lip-gloss and a little mascara on the eyes. My hair is also easy to maintain. It is short and only needs a few minutes retouching with gel for a smooth funky look.
What are your hobbies?
Poetry and acting.
I look forward to becoming a journalist and a top model.