Ever since Miss Uganda won the coveted Miss World Africa in China on December 8, 2018, several organizers have come up with genres of beauty pageants from Miss Tourism, Miss Earth, Miss Fat, and just in Miss Curvy.
The pageant was unveiled on February 5 at the prestigious Mestil Hotel poolside in Kampala by the youthful Minister of State for Tourism Wildlife & Antiquities, Honorable Suubi Kiwanda.
This event is as he said aimed at creating excitement for Uganda’s endowment and cultural potential around the world.
Referring to the ethnic groups of Uganda, notably the Banyankole and Baganda tribes whose traditional dance features vigorous gyrating to song and instruments, the honorable Minister said: “If you see a Munyankole woman, the way they are curved, they have a story. In our dances, when you see how they spread their arms, if you see a Muganda woman concentrating on her waist, there is a story about us. That is the tourism, that is the story we sell. Animals and national parks are part of us, but tourism begins with you.”
He defended the competition as “Godly for it is inspired by appreciation and endowment by God to the Ugandan women. It will be an event where ladies showcase their beautiful curves and intellect.”
He decried the criteria for previous pageants for only skinny girls, saying we must diversify and bring this (Miss Curvy) on board.
Anne Munyangoma, the pageant organizer, echoed the words of the Honorable Kiwanda saying, “Beauty in the past was for size ‘zero.’ We are Ugandans, and the way we are shaped is truly African.”
Participants were also excited that for the first time, plus size was being represented. “We are all excited and feel proud to be African,” said one of the contestants.
The event has not gone without controversy, for shortly after clips of the launch were shared on social media, it received several criticisms calling for its cancellation.
Leading the petition is Ms. Primrose Murungi, a woman activist who commented in a leading daily, “I personally feel attacked. This is degrading of women. In a country where women are grabbed by men while walking on the streets and now they have legalized it by making them tourist attractions is not fair,” the petition reads in part.
One tour operator argued that the Minister should instead focus on wildlife since elephants are already curvy and so are warthogs.
The Minister was not without his supporters on social media including one John Waigo who wondered why most beauty pageants starve young girls so they can fit western standards of beauty.
In defense of the Minister, Boniface Byamukama, outgoing chairman of the East African Tourism Platform, said that the Minister did not initiate the event but was simply invited to launch it.
In the days when the #me too campaign has scandalized Hollywood, leading to many brands like Formula One and car shows cancelling the use of female models, Uganda’s tourism industry on the contrary has embarked on boosting Uganda’s domestic tourism campaign known as “Tulambue,” meaning let’s tour, through local female socialites including Uganda’s Kim Kardashian – Zari Hassan – who has a following of 4 million plus as well as most new socialite Anita Fabiola – the latest in a string of lady Tourism Ambassadors. The debate continues.