Uganda has finally got something to smile about, and all it took is a six-foot 21-year-old in the shape of Munirah Namakula, who on Tuesday was picked as a semi-finalist for the 2006 Nokia Face of Africa modelling contest.
It has been a long time since something really good came out of Uganda and made everybody smile, but the choice of the free-lance model has brought back some of our national confidence.
â€œLast year we had nothing, and Nassanga was just picked as an afterthought, though not to take anything from her,â€ an official who preferred to remain anonymous said. â€œBut this is different, Namakula really impressed the judges, and theyâ€™ve been there, they know who will make it and who wonâ€™t, maybe now our girls can stand up with some confidence after all.â€
Namakula joined six other girls who have been already selected as semi-finalists: Keamogetse Basiima from Botswana, Chiposwa Ngoyi from Zambia, Vanentia Otto of Namibia and Doris Anjalo, 20, from Kenya. Others are Selemawit Adamu, 20, from Ethiopia and a yet unnamed girl from Rwanda.
After Kampala, the judges will go to Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria and finally Johannesburg.
Seventeen girls will be chosen as semi-finalists and they will undergo training sessions dubbed â€˜boot camps.â€™ The first will be in Botswana, after which five girls will be dropped.
The remaining 12 will participate in the 2006 Nokia Cape Town Fashion Week in early July as part of the second â€˜boot camp.â€™ The 10 that will get the most jobs will then attend the finals slated for August 10, in Sun City, South Africa.
The winner stands to get a three-year contract with the Storm Model Management worth $125,000 (sh270m).
FINALIST: The five girls that made it to the next round. From left, Martha Akiting (Miss MUBS), Monica Kasyate, Priscilla Ray and Victoria Nangozi
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Ugandaâ€™s face of Africa