In the wee hours of Sunday, a new dawn began for a little-known young woman with what sounds like a well-known first name.
Many literature enthusiasts regard King Lear as the king of tragedies. And this was a night when a 23-year-old Leah Kalanguka smiled her way to beauty royalty, declared Miss Uganda shortly after 1am at Speke resort Munyonyo.
Kalanguka, from Busembatya in Iganga district, did not have that “wow” or the “Oh my God” look, but her infectious smile and confidence before the judges outwitted 19 other girls to the crown, winning herself a brand new Toyota Spacio and monthly allowance of Shs 1 million for her entire reign until 2015.
She told The Observer moments later that when she left their Kampala home in Muyenga, she was faithful she would emerge winner. And the Makerere University student of Computer Engineering, who will be graduating in January, wouldn’t let anything stand her way to the crown.
“When I heard that this year’s theme is about agribusiness to ensure promoting agricultural entrepreneurship among the youth, I knew this is something I could do because I am involved in farming,” she said.
Kalanguka missed the eastern regional search because she was away in Tooro, helping out to teach youths how to grow cabbages, something she learnt from her mother, an agriculture teacher at Makerere College School. But she made it a point to enter the Kampala pre-selection, which was open to all single girls who have never given birth and who are between the ages of 18 and 24.
It is then that she caught the eye of the judges and made it to the finalists’ list. Kalanguka confesses that she didn’t know much about what it takes to be a beauty queen, but Joram Muzira, one of the Miss Uganda tutors, helped her a lot.
“I come from a family where you have to be the best. So,in every challenge, I take keen note on how to outwit others,” she said.
“I focused on what Joram taught me, especially how to impress the judges and how to smile”.
Indeed, she should know something about competition; the third born in a family of six girls, Kalanguka may be no stranger to friendly cat fights.
All her five sisters were in attendance, screaming their lungs out from the moment she took an early lead as Miss Photogenic. Even her friends from Olympia hostel in Makerere Kikoni, where she has been residing, turned up in big numbers.
However, her parents: Kayondo Kalanguka of ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, and Jane Bagaya Kalanguka weren’t in attendance.
“They are very loving and have supported me all the way, but they told me they would stay home and just follow the proceedings and I was okay with it,” she said.
Kalanguka attended Nakasero primary school before joining Trinity College Nabbingo and later Makerere University.
The beauty queen, whose role model is Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, intends to change the youth’s mindset about agribusiness to ensure that they effectively get involved in the sector, which employs nearly 80 per cent Ugandans.
The first runner-up was 22-year-old Brenda Iriama from Nakapiripirit district in Karamoja. The second runner-up was 19-year-old Yasmin Taba from Koboko district, who also won Miss Personality.
The event was hosted by Capital FM’s Flavia Tumusiime and KFM’s Roger Mugisha. There were performances from guitarist Myko Ouma, comedian Alex Muhangi and singer Desire Luzinda.
The pageant was sponsored by Mirinda and Namukekera Rural Industrial Centre (NRIC) where the girls spent one week learning different farming techniques. The other sponsors included TV Africa, SMS One and African Youth Employment Bureau (AYEB).
- Miss Congeniality -Christine Tayebwa, also winner Miss Western Uganda and Miss Popularity
- Miss Northern Region -Sharon Auma
- Miss Talent - Claudet Kesiime
- Miss Beach Body -Sheena Kyozira
- Miss Sports - Sharifa Sherry Naluyo
- Miss Central Region -Mable Namala
- Miss Eastern Region -Flavia Constance Ibyara Miss Rising Star -Shilla Karungi