For nearly a month, Rwanda is boiling around the candidacy of a young woman for the election of Miss Rwanda 2019.
Punk hairstyle, modest dress style, toe injury, lack of makeup, medium size, Josiane Mwiseneza seemed, at the time of her arrival to the pre-selection of applications for Miss Rwanda, to be the exact opposite of the stereotypes usually conveyed by the participants in a beauty contest.
Yet, nearly a month after applying, the young woman arouses a popular fervor of surprising proportions in a country usually used to miss elections held in relative anonymity barely broken by some bad buzz around the participants’ performances in the field of foreign language proficiency.
The fervor around the candidacy of Josiane Mwiseneza is such that it is described as “historic” by several media. Thus, songs have already been composed to his glory, poems circulate, a diviner predicted his victory and the prayer of a pastor blessing the young woman has been shared thousands of times.
Even the political world seems to have been conquered by the phenomenon to the point that Alvera Mukabaramba, the Rwandan Minister of state in charge of Social Affairs, multiplies via Twitter messages of support to the young woman.
In recent days a petition asking that the rules of the Miss Rwanda contest be modified to “remove all the obstacles that can prevent Josiane from being designated Miss Rwanda 2019” has even started circulating on the internet and has already collected more than 1000 signatures.
For some commentators, if “we could change the constitution, we can change the rules of this contest to ensure that is designated Miss the candidate chosen by Rwandans. “
In Karongi, the region of Josiane Mwiseneza, the surprise is total. Anne Marie Mukankusi Gwiza, a neighbor of the family, described the general mood in one of her many interviews to local media: “We thought the Miss Rwanda contest was for girls living in the cities. I could not believe it was Mwiseneza who spends his days like us sweeping, plucking the weeds, feeding the cows. Our neighbors are all surprised and continue to wonder who would have pushed her into such an adventure. But, to see where things are, we support her and we are very proud because she represents our region. “
His brother is among the first surprised by the success met by his younger sister and for good reason, he explains, with the exception of his mother, the young woman made a point of not informing anyone of her adventure in order to remain independent, to prevent people from discouraging her or others, while supporting her, to be tempted to dictate her conduct.
He hopes that this contest, now boosted by the success of his sister, could be an “opportunity for Rwanda” thanks to the scale of the competition outside the country’s borders.
The story begins on Sunday, December 16, 2018 during the pre-selection of Miss Rwanda 2019 candidates at the Inzozi Beach Hotel located in Rubavu. On this day, the people present see a young woman come out breathless, dressed modestly, slightly injured in the left foot and who, just arrived, will be the first to be auditioned by the jury.
When she comes out of the audition, the media flock to this candidate and hammer her sometimes strange questions, such as on her toe injury, her hair, her physique, and they call the video “Mwiseneza Josiane came on foot and presents toe injuries “. Igihe.com, the most widely read media in Rwanda, also wrote “Mwiseneza has walked nearly 10 km to participate in the Miss Rwanda contest”, including a photo of his feet where you can see minor injuries.
The video of her interview quickly becomes viral and exceeds 150,000 views in just a few days, a huge number for a video in Kinyarwanda. The intention of the journalists in the choice of their titles and the questions is unclear, but the great majority of the Net surfers who comment the video see there a disguised mockery and publish under the video dozens of virulent comments against the journalists.
One of the most liked comments denounces a “disregard” for the poor: “People are equal, we come from the same place and we all go to the same place”. Another, while emphasizing the confidence of the candidate in her answers to the questions, points to the “lack of professionalism, respect and maturity” of the journalists in their questions. Some commentators even insult journalists.
Despite these sometimes strange questions from journalists, many Internet users are seduced by the confidence displayed by the 23-year-old woman, unemployed and from a poor family living in rural Rwanda.
She is not destabilized by the questions of journalists, always finding the right answer, as when they ask her why the media are rushing on her rather than the other candidates: “It is you who should answer this question, you asked me for this interview. ”
In the days following the interview, newspaper articles are multiplying, videos about the young woman are piling up and reach a cumulative total of several million views, and the comments of support are countless.
Isimbi, another Rwandan online media, goes to the young woman for a long interview.
This interview exceeds the 150,000 views again, and the young woman impresses with his lucidity and the confidence that she releases: “At the moment of presenting myself, I did not ask myself any questions, for me that I come by car, of the city or rural world is not one of the criteria on which women are selected, the most important thing in my mind was the answers I would give to the questions of the jury. “
The young woman wants the crown of Miss Rwanda to finally leave Kigali
For her, to be crowned would allow her to be a voice and an example for girls in the rural world to give them confidence and to make them aware of their value and the fact that all girls have the same rights .
Beyond the crown, Josiane sees in her application the means to carry out several projects, in particular that of combating child malnutrition. “In our neighborhood, there is a big problem of child malnutrition. I would like to use my popularity and the fact that I am lucky that many people are listening to me now, to tell them that I want to fight child malnutrition. You can be in Kigali or in other cities and think that this problem does not concern you but if tomorrow for example you need a servant, you will find it where they all suffer from malnutrition? What will be the Rwanda of tomorrow that could have produced doctors, soldiers who defend the country, people who contribute to the development of the country if all suffer from malnutrition? Even if your children do not suffer, the consequences will also fall on you; Calling on all Rwandans to feel concerned by this problem.
Child malnutrition is one of the biggest problems Rwanda faces. According to government statistics, 38% of Rwandan children were affected in 2015. The project to combat child malnutrition is one of the reasons that pushed the Minister of state to support the candidacy of Josiane “Mwiseneza Josiane has a noble project to fight against child malnutrition in her region “she wrote on Twitter.482