PIC: For the first time ever, Uganda is represented in the Miss World Top 30. (Photo credit: Miss World)
MISS WORLD 2018
By Joseph Kizza
Sanya, CHINA - The judges looked out for two main qualities from the contestants: confidence and eloquence.
And that's exactly what Uganda's representative Quiin Abenakyo exhibited the very moment she took the mic in a duel against Argentina's Victoria Soto.
The two beauty queens were facing off in a Head-to-Head Challenge of the Miss World 2018, where 10 spots for the Top 30 were up for grabs. By the time Abenakyo and her rival stood up to make a case for their respective projects, nine finalists had already been confirmed.
While Soto talked hope and equal opportunities, Abenakyo, 22, drummed up support for the girl child in a project titled 'Fighting Teenage Pregnancies'.
According to Miss World presenter Frankie Cena, the global pageant's contestants are "bright, beautiful and empowering young women", and Abenakyo exuded the right balance of exurberance, calmness and conviction to explain her cause.
She plucked out a telling story of a one Daisy, a Ugandan who, in her teens, had to carry the painful work of her grandfather's shameful act for several months, having been previously also sexually abused by her father.
Abenakyo's audience inside the Moulin Rouge Theatre, Mangrove Tree Resort World in China's beach city of Sanya appeared moved.
In equal measure, the judges, too, were gripped by the emotional presentation, which, according to the competition rules, had to be delivered within one-and-a-half minutes.
Today our 20 Miss World Head to Head Challenge Round 1 winners will compete against each other for a spot in the Miss World Final 30!— Miss World (@MissWorldLtd) December 1, 2018
They will be judged by Miss World 2013 Megan Young, Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle, and the reigning Miss World Manushi Chillar pic.twitter.com/iCGBxgC3J1
'Educate a girl child, educate an entire community'
Here is Abenakyo's 90-second speech:
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My Beauty with a Purpose project is 'Fighting Teenage Pregnancies'. One out of four girls, aged 13 to 17, is either pregnant or a mother. This is very disheartening, and as I look at all the ladies here, I must say we are really blessed that we don't have to go through all this. But we can't say the same for our sisters out there. There is a certain story of a Daisy. Daisy was molested by her father at 12 years old. The father passed away and she had to go live with her grandfather, and the grandfather did the same thing. Now this girl gave birth - imagine giving birth to your grandfather's child! And this is happening a lot in Uganda. I come from the eastern part of Uganda and it has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies. What am I doing about it? Together with the Miss Uganda Foundation, we have a 'Keep a Girl Child in School' programme, and this is to enable and encourage these girls to go back to school. Give them the necessary resources and skills that will enable them go back to school. I believe when you educate a girl child, you are educating the entire community. So, the biggest platform one can ever have is Miss World. I have talked to a few of the other contestants and we all have this problem in our countries. How about we all come together, come up with common goals and objectives to fight this, so that we can stand up for our sisters that cannot do this for themselves. Thank you so much."
Miss World Head to Head Challenge Final Part 2 https://t.co/FA7vIgrS4m— Miss World (@MissWorldLtd) December 1, 2018
'Well done Uganda'
The conclusion of the reigning Miss Uganda's presentation was met with thunderous applause from the audience.
And when it came to the judging panel, all was tick for Uganda.
The judges were all former Miss Worlds: Miss World 2016 and Beauty with a Purpose ambassador, Stephanie Del Valle of Puerto Rico, reigning Miss World, Manushi Chhillar of India and Miss World 2013 of the Philippines, Megan Young.
It was a three-way decision, with all of them picking Uganda over Argentina.
Abenakyo, who completed her bachelor's degree in business computing at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) this year, had made Ugandan history.
"I believe it is the toughest to help the community when you have to go against a few people off the community, and well done Uganda, you are doing it," said Chhillar while delivery her verdict.
After being confirmed among the Final 30, it was a case of not love lost as Abenakyo and Soto hugged it out in the true spirit of the beauty pageant.
"This is the very first time Uganda is making it to the Top 30 [applause]. I am very humbled, go Team Blue!" chanted a cheerful Abenakyo.
The other nations that made the cut from the Head-to-Head Challenge are Bangladesh, Chile, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand and Venezuela.
68th edition, Dec 8, 8th time for Sanya
According to presenter Cena, this year's Head-to-Head Challenge reached a record number of votes and views from around the world, with the contestants sharing their respective stories.
"Only 20 women advanced to the final round, based on the public vote. The field had to be narrowed down to 10, who (would) directly enter the Miss World final 30," Cena said moments before the Part 1 of the Challenge.
This year's Miss World, the 68th edition, will be be held in Sanya this Saturday (December 8), whereIndia's Chhillar will crown her successor at the end of the event.
It is the eighth time that the annual event will be hosted in the popular coastal city.