God-fearing, modest, down to earth and amiable. These adjectives rarely conjure up the image of a star.
But they are attributes very much attached to Leah Kalanguka, the newly-crowned Miss Uganda. With all the surrounding stardust, one will find that the 23-year-old is not your stereotypical prim and pampered beauty queen. She has actually set herself apart, coming to the beauty pageant with a special talent in agriculture that of growing mushrooms.
She ventured into the practice three months ago with her sister and mother in order to raise some extra income. Their mushrooms are currently sold at Nakasero market and a kilogramme goes for Shs 8,000.
“After completing my studies in May this year, I decided to venture into mushroom growing because of the vegetable’s marketability and it was one way of using my free time profitably,” says Kalanguka, with some pride.
Professionally a computer engineer, she hopes to create a phone application that will come handy in promoting agricultural value addition. Kalanguka says that her winning the beauty contest, which was held under the theme, ‘Promoting agricultural entrepreneurship among the youth,’ is a huge tide on which she is going to ride to spur on youths’ interests.
“Agriculture has numerous employment opportunities for the youth and can go a long way in creating self- sustainability for them,” she said, during the interview.
As part of their boot camp, all the contestants dirtied their hands milking cows and cleaning pig sties at Bukalasa Agricultural College, away from the usual beauty therapy pampering. Although she was well armed with humility and determination, Kalanguka did reach a point in the pageant where she was ready to accept just about any result, because, “All the girls were amazing and beautiful.”
Her path to victory was, therefore, not an easy foregone conclusion. It took the sacrifice of free time and sleep. And when she won, she was truly humbled.
“Winning this pageant has made me realise a dream I have been chasing since childhood, and I am going to use it to influence the youth positively, because I know that many are now looking up to me,” Kalanguka, who believes her smile and new entrepreneurial ideas worked wonders for her, says.
In a country that puts beauty on a pedestal, there are countless definitions of what makes someone beautiful. Many believe it is skin complexion, facial features or even height. But for Kalanguka, true beauty comes from within. She says although we cannot run away from physical appearance because of our human nature, character and personality usually speak much louder.
And to the naysayers and haters who have taken to social media to hurl insults at her, she just says: “You are simply wasting your time!”
The beauty queen will represent Uganda at the Miss World pageant on November 14, in London.
Kalanguka is the third-born child out of six girls of Kayandho Kalunguka and and Jane Bawaya, and hails from Iganaga district. As Leah grew up at the Bugolobi flats in Kampala, she kept on receiving comments from the family’s neighbours to the effect that she could one day be a fashion designer her interest was then sparked off.
She started to watch models on TV and read fashion magazines.
“During my primary school days at Nakasero primary school, I really wanted to be a model, and when I joined Trinity College Nabbingo for O and A-level, I knew pageantry was a good way to reach this goal,” she says.
This fascination became such an inspiration that she decided to give it a shot this year, after completing her Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering course at Makerere University. While growing up, she also once dreamt of becoming a pilot and being able to lift a plane off the ground to fly to other continents around the world.
But this dream did not last because her father was opposed to it and this ushered in a new dream – of becoming a medical doctor. Nevertheless, her interest in computers eventually become so overpowering that it drove her into pursing a course in computer engineering, knowledge that she says she is going to use in creating an agricultural application.
“I envision being a successful programmer and motivational speaker five years from today,” she confidently declares.
Her mother, an Agriculture teacher at Makerere College School, has always been, and still is, the most influential person in her life because she has raised her to be God-fearing and supported her dreams.
Besides being a computer engineer and now Miss Uganda, Kalanguka also sings in the youth choir at the Church of the Resurrection in Bugolobi and doubles as a disciple in the youth fellowship which conducts gospel and charity outreaches. In her free time, Kalanguka enjoys swimming, singing, dancing and playing volleyball.
Source : The Observer