They Don’t Come Better Than Leah Kalanguka

Miss Uganda, from someone who has known her for a decade.

Until you have the whole world running after you, demanding your head on a barbeque stick and your innards in a teacup, honey, you have not yet made it in this world. That is what I tell anyone who gets caught up in a tornado of negative reaction towards an achievement added to their name.

If you are a hermit living in a cave in Tibet, you will be excused from knowing that the newly-crowned beauty queen of Uganda has walked into a wall of criticism directed to her looks. But again, we all know that a panel of judges may not necessarily speak for the rest of the country, and controversy is bound to cloud it all.

She is flawless:

I am not defending Leah’s physical beauty because it is in need of defending I think she is flawless and to speak of her, I would just burst into poetry and it would be longer than Homer’s Odyssey.

Although, I think, it is foolish and reflective of a certain undesirable nature when people begin frothing at their mouths like mugs of cheap beer, insulting a goodwill ambassador, or anyone else because of a photo gone wrong. I am going to take out my claws, because someone needs to fix the demented notion this society holds about beauty.

I will give an insight into her personality, because I have had the privilege of knowing her for ten years now. After reading this, it will say a lot about your soul and humanity, if you proceed to pour petrol on the flames of bad publicity of a 23-year-old girl, who hasnot committed any atrocity outside of having a bad picture a girl who just had the giant ovaries to get into a national competition and had the brains and personality to outshine her competitors.

I hope everyone reads this to the end the same way you read all those comments on social media. I hope you share it the same way you shared those pictures and snarky remarks. I went to high school [Trinity College Nabbingo] with Leah, and just like everyone else, my opinion of her was formed first, basing on her externalities.

While the rest of us, new to the experience of secondary school, were shy, awkward and fidgety on the school compound, there was this one girl everyone talked about, who seemed to have been born there. Leah Kalanguka was always calm and laid back, like she breathed a different kind of air. It is as if we breathed oxygen and she breathed nitrogen.

She walked with an unsettling grace and a power that none of us 13-year-olds could logically attach to anything other than a modelling agency, and that is what sparked off the rumour in school that she was signed to Arapapa. As one of those girls who had experienced woe at the hands of the popular kids in school too often, I was not keen on making friends with her because, from previous experience, I had come to the conclusion that the high school popularity mill churned nothing but mean, self-centred creatures.

It was not long before fate used Leah to teach me an important lesson about judging books by their covers. Leah’s g attachment to her faith and spirituality was the window that invited me into getting to know her better.

It was through the church choir and fellowships, where I first got a zoom-in. Of course it came as a surprise to me that she was there, because I imagined that she naturally would have preferred the less “dorky” extracurricular activities in school but well, there she was, sitting in a lotus position on the grass with a hymn book, practising for Sunday service.

And unlike people who use religion as an ornament to adorn themselves, Leah is a good person. Leah is not like people of my kind who will first be shot in the head before they talk to anyone other than their best friend from kindergarten.

Much as Leah had her tightly-knit circle of friends from S.1 in high school, she was so warm to everyone, that at the hostel while at Makerere University, we always communed in her room, in between lectures and after class. She always cooked for us spaghetti and put for us a movie to watch on her laptop.

She was witty and funny always with little bits of amusing stories to tell.

Her bed always crowded:

You know how in hostel rooms there are no couches, when people are hosting anyone, they have to sit on their beds. Leah’s bed was always crowded with people watching, munching, or doing coursework. She is so much fun to be around, because she has those special funky abilities that come in handy for instance at parties, Leah is the best person to hang out with. There is never a dull moment.

She always loved dancing, and we always put her as the leader for dance battles to represent our class and boy, does Leah send them home howling!

Leah played volleyball in high school for her house and you just hated to be the one to face off with her. It sucked to be on the other team, because it would seem like you were a mortal playing with a goddess.

And Leah wasn’t all fun and games she was bright and this came as a kick in the butt for those who never knew her, because it seemed like she was always doing everything else but classwork. She played volleyball, was an athlete, and was involved in every charity event from church to school clubs.

It did not make sense that with literally no time on her hands, she would still come and beat my inactive couch-potato-self at academics. Truth is she is a genius. There is no mathematician I know on this planet since Pythagoras, like that sister, Leah Kalanguka.

Leah used to fix all our computer and laptop problems she is a wizard at machines. Whatever she touched even if it was as dead as a dodo, she made it work. She used to kick ass in Chemistry, Biology and all other science subjects the rest of us were bamboozled by, that it ceased to be funny.

And you would think that she would suck at the endless notes of History plus dull French books but no, Leah was better than us all who claimed to be naturally arts students.

Your Miss Uganda is a genius, because while the rest of us had our noses stuck in our school books 247, and still came out with one-digit percentages, Leah was doing all this stuff and she still graduated with a first-class degree in computer engineering.

Yes folks, your beauty queen graduated magna cum laude. And she doesn’t just possess book knowledge or a head with good storage capacity no.

She has got this emotional intelligence which is a rare gem. For instance, many times I have gone to Leah feeling sad or angry or bothered by something she knows when to just sit next to you in companionable silence, when to hurl pillows at the wall to release your rage and when to make a nice music playlist and help you dance or sing it off.

If you needed some wise counsel from my circle of friends, it was only smart that you went to Leah, because she has got this ageless insight and maturity that she uses to help you put things into perspective. She is one of those people who will empathize with you, but will in her own sweet way help you get out of self-pity and equip you with the knowledge and material you need to get to a better place.

She is so bubbly and effervescent that she is someone who supplies you with the positive energy, when you are running low. Leah is so caring that if it grew dark and she hadn’t seen you in hours, she would pick up the phone just to ask where you are.

There is something so maternal about her the way you would bet on your mum being there for you in everything, is the same way you know Leah has your back. I do not recall ever asking Leah for a favour and she turned me down. From helping you pass a hairpin, to asking her for lunch money to boarding a taxi to fetch your earphones, because you forgot them… . Leah will just do it.

She has this unworldly patience with everyone. Like at hostel, she had a roommate but many times when my roomie left and I was scared of sleeping alone, I would find Leah fast asleep and wake her up to get a spare mattress from under her bed so I could sleep in her room.

She used to just get her drowsy self up, dismantle her bed to get the mattress out and then go back to sleep, mumbling ‘goodnight’.

She taught me that friendship and love is not just birthday cards and titles friendship and love are practical and sacrificial. Leah is the kindest, most patient, sweet-natured person in the world a week towards examinations in her third year, someone lost her [Leah’s] laptop to conmen, and being a computer engineering student, all her notes and classwork were stored on it.

People used to go nuts and drag friends to the police for losing their laptops, but precarious as Leah’s position was, with the possibility of her failing her exams with no reading material to revise, Leah kept a cool head when the person who lost it, told her.

She told the person she understood and just tried to look for material to take her through the exams.

Ten years of knowing someone can make a long blog post, but I will wrap this up by giving you my own definition of beauty as taught me to me by Leah.

Beautiful eyes are eyes imbued with kindness

Beautiful lashes are those that cry with those in sorrow

Beautiful lips are those from which wisdom and truth flow

Beautiful ears are those that listen and heed to knowledge

Beautiful hands are those that make things better

Beautiful legs are those that carry joy to wherever they go

A beautiful body is that which is home to a beautiful soul.

Uganda has and will never have a beauty queen more beautiful and more deserving of the crown than Leah Kalanguka.

This beautiful piece was adapted from the author’s blogspot, Diary of a Headless Chicken.

Source : The Observer

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