Abenakyo's is a journey that has seen her rise from a job-seeking university finalist to a Miss World Africa winner in a matter of months.
PIC: Miss World Africa Quiin Abenakyo (left) speaking during a press conference at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala on Thursday. (Photo by Timothy Murungi)
THE QUEEN IS BACK
By Joseph Kizza
KAMPALA - The reigning Miss World Africa has offered some dollop of advice to young girls: Believe in yourself, get the right role model(s) and stay in school.
"But above everything, put God first," said Quiin Abenakyo on Thursday.
She put it as clear as that.
Fresh from a weeks-long stay in China on Miss World 2018 duty, the newly-crowned continental queen had minutes before walked into the room partially filled with journalists at Sheraton Kampala Hotel with the gracefulness of a beauty queen.
The cute print dress plus the tiara perched on her head completed the look of royalty as the 22-year-old was led to the well-set table to get the media conference under way.
On one side, she was flanked by Miss Uganda Foundation CEO Brenda Nanyonjo and Miss Uganda 2018 project co-ordinator and former Miss Uganda (2011) Sylvia Namutebi Alibhai.
On the other end sat Kezzi Entertainment CEO Kevin Zziwa, Talent Africa boss Aly Alibhai and Uganda Tourism Board senior publicist Sandra Natukunda.
Thursday's press conference, held a day after a grand homecoming, started off with a short video of Abenakyo's journey relayed on two large screens - right from the auditions stage in Uganda up to the crowning finale in Sanya, China.
Hers has been a journey that saw the Mayuge-born rise from a job-seeking university finalist to a Miss World Africa winner in a matter of months.
While it was not an easy road, Abenakyo's determination and the support system around her would buoy her to greatness. She defied odds and along the way, managed to get a nation so much hooked and keen on the international beauty pageant like never before.
Interestingly, what kept her campaign team even more motivated was the skepticism by a section of the public - and Kezzi boss Zziwa was keen to underline that.
"For those that did not believe in this, we also thank you," he said, adding that such a wave uncertainty instead "gave us the fuel" to achieve success at the Miss World 2018 contest.
Nanyonjo, admitting that she and Abenakyo were still "dealing with the reality, the excitement and jetlag [from travelling]", said the voting campaign was "hot".
"To all Ugandans here and in the diaspora - thank you.
"And to the in-house campaign team, you guys did a great job of updating Ugandans on the developments via our official platforms," said the Miss Uganda Foundation chief executive.
Brenda's good spirits and positive energy are infectious! She, and others, have been by Abenakyo's side every step of the way
'Government supported us'
Meanwhile, Nanyonjo disputed claims that Government did not offer support to Abenakyo towards her Miss World participation. "That is not true," she set the record straight.
"They [Government] made sure that we were okay through the Ugandan ambassador to China, the Uganda Tourism Board board chairman and the tourism ministry.
"I was in touch with them. So, whatever was said is not true. Take it from me," she said.
Zziwa has also touched on the matter, saying that the group was not stuck in China after the December 8 crowning ceremony as claimed on some platforms.
"Let's always try to get authentic information - we are always available [to provide it]."
From left, Kevin, Quiin, Brenda and Sylvia
Do the same for others - Abenakyo
Here is one thing you might want to know about Abenakyo: she is not the type of many words, at least by her own admission.
"I am a lady of very few words. Thank you very much for the love and support. This is overwhelming," she said.
"I used to watch this on TV and now it is a dream-come-true. When I was China, I used to wake up and see all this love coming through," said the beauty queen.
She intends to further her cause (on teenage pregnancies) beyond the one year of her reign, adding that she will need everyone's support to make it happen.
Abenakyo urged Government to extend such support to other people and disciplines, including sports and entertainment.
'It is third - not fourth'
Meanwhile, there had been confusion over Uganda's overall position at this year's Miss World edition.
In response, Nanyonjo offered clarity. "Abenakyo was the third runner-up, meaning she was fourth."
She placed third in the Miss World Global Vote behind Thailand's Nicolene Pichapa Limsnukan (winner) and Mexico's Vanessa Ponce (second). Somehow, that outcome became a source of confusion for some sections of the Ugandan public.
Ponce was crowned the overall winner of this year's contest - the 68th edition of the annual global beauty pageant - in China's coastal city Sanya.
Thailand's Limsnukan was second, Jamaica's Kadijah Robinson placed third while Abenakyo finished in fourth place. Maria Vasilevich of Belarus completed the Top 5 list.
The Miss World 2018 Top 5, from left: Miss Thailand, Miss Uganda, Miss Mexico (winner), Miss Jamaica and Miss Belarus
Talent Africa's Alibhai said that from the very beginning of the campaign, "our slogan was: 'Searching For the Next African Queen'."
And indeed, "it is quite amazing to bring the African queen here".
UTB's publicist Natukunda said they are to work together with other stakeholders to plan how Abenakyo represents Uganda - as she is bound to travel a lot, especially on the continent.
Her placement in the dizzying Top 5 cast assured her of being a part of the Miss World 2019 Beauty with a Purpose tour - on top of several other opportunities.
Following her new-found achievement, Abenakyo believes that "this is a start of something new" and that Ugandans will now take the pageant seriously.
She flew back home from China on Wednesday and was received warmly by a large delegation of family, government officials and well-wishers. Later, she met with President Yoweri Museveni at State House, Entebbe.
The President hailed Abenakyo's success and said she is a true definition of beauty coupled with brains.
Also related to this story
Abenakyo truly defines beauty and brains - Museveni
'Thank you Uganda' - Miss World Africa Abenakyo Quiin
HISTORY! Uganda in Top 5 at Miss World 2018
Top 30: How Abenakyo made Ugandan history