Every year, a beauty queen is crowned. Many of them however don’t stand ground or fulfil whatever they promise on the night of crowning.
What they do in the reign is what usually stands out, during or after their sovereignty.
Irene Nakitende is one of the few Miss Uganda contestants that have against all odds, shone beyond her title.
21-year old Nakitende is a second last born of nine born in Mengo and raised in Kasangati.
Irene grew up in a large family with siblings from different mothers.
“I grew up in an extended family, we are many kids from different mothers but we don’t make a dozen. The most important thing is we all love each other,” she recounts.
Irene attended Shimoni Primary School and Atlas High School before joining Ndejje University for a bachelor’s degree in Mass communication.
She was named Miss Uganda Rising woman 2016/2017 at a glamorous event held at Serena hotel in Kampala.
Irene had a one on one with ChimpLyf’s Shamim Kawalha for an insight into life, charity and more.
What inspired you to contest for Miss Uganda?
I had never thought of being a beauty queen; however growing up I used to see them a lot on television and in newspapers.
I remember when Stella Nantumbwe won Miss Uganda, she was all over. She even joined Big Brother Africa. I liked her but never thought I would be among the contestants of 2016.
It was actually something I bumped into and let myself give it a try.
I was looking for an opportunity to advertise my work. I love charity but I wanted the easiest way to do it and Miss Uganda opened doors for me. I needed more opportunities for myself.
From a downtown girl to beauty queen, how has it affected your life?
Actually, nothing has changed. I am still the same girl I was before the contest. However a few things like my lifestyle had to change because I was representing Miss Uganda foundation.
Have you found the opportunities you were looking for?
Surely I found the doors, in fact some come in golden colors while I create others. Unlike before, now people look for me to spear head the things I like.
I have been able to accomplish my own charity projects and I have managed to help a number of teenagers through peer education.
You’re a beautiful girl; don’t you get many advances from men?[Laughing]…. The kinds of work I involve myself in don’t give me time. But I know there are some men out there who like me.
How did you handle the contest and school?
Apart from the long distances we travelled, everything was easy for me.
I am a weekend student so boot camp was easy for me to attend. However it was hard for me to revise because camp was tight. But still, I didn’t fail papers.
How did it feel when you didn’t win the main crown?
It was a competition and we always expect two things, winning or losing.
However,I was disappointed in myself for a short while, especially towards the end, I felt like I had lost faith in myself.
I knew I would win the miss popularity crown because I surely had more votes but things turned the other way round, I didn’t win it still. My hopes were closing down.
Deep inside my heart I knew one thing “the crown doesn’t define you, but you define the crown.”
It was a challenge to me to know how to define myself without the crown. But we all won, all the ladies who contested were queens and will forever be queens.
How did you Start charity?
I started way back as a kid; there were some whites who had come to our area and asked me to push them for some charity work. I realized many Ugandans need help, some mentally, physically and spiritually.
I had to do something before aging. My dad told me I would be a useful person in future; little did I know the future was now and tomorrow
How does it feel to represent Uganda at the Miss Africa contest in Rwanda?
Representing my country would be a great honor, but I would like to apologize to everyone who supported me that I won’t be able to make it.
The organizers of the event were never transparent, all they wanted was money (200$) without even giving us the whole program.
They always put us on tension.
Even after postponing the event, the never announced but still called me to send money for registration.
A part from that, I have other things to do in that month, both here and abroad.
Are you in a relationship?
Laughing… I would like not to comment about it. I am also still focused on education.
What are your future plans?
As I said before, a crown is nothing without a bright and intelligent person. I won’t put a stand on what I have been doing (Projects and campaigns).
I actually have a wider picture after handing over this year.
Do you use any drugs?
I haven’t used any before, I am a born again Christian, focused on a few things which I set.
I don’t plan to use them anytime soon.
What are your favorite Ugandan songs?
Woman – Juliana Kanyomozi
Warrior – Juliana Kanyomozi
Love you every day – Bebe cool
Insane – Maurice Kirya
Any advice for the youth out there?
Let purpose be the reason to your journey, with this in mind, trust me, you will reach where you want to be