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I am stepping into very big shoes – Nakakande

Here comes the queen: Oliver Nakakande, 24, was crowned Miss Uganda 2019/20 at the event finale that took place at Sheraton Kampala Hotel last Friday. Esther Oluka caught up with Nakakande to talk about her newly acquired beauty queen status.

On July 26, Oliver Nakakande, a 24-year-old student beat 21 other contestants for the Miss Uganda title. The judges had acknowledged that they were looking for a girl with outstanding special qualities including beauty, poise and intellect. At the end of the event, they named Nakakande as their choice. Elizabeth Bagaya, 24, a make-up artist, was first runner up while Mariam Nyamatte, 21, a marketer, was second runner up.

On July 29, two days after her crowning, I met up with Nakakande at her hotel room in Sheraton Kampala. She was in the company of Brenda Nanyonjo, the Miss Uganda Foundation CEO and Janat Nalugya, the project coordinator at the Miss Uganda Foundation.

Nanyonjo styled Nakakande’s hair while Nalugya typed on her phone.

Once Nakakande’s hair was done, she got onto her feet and that was when her statuesque frame became vividly noticeable. The darked skinned beauty stands at about five feet 11 inches tall.

After exchanging pleasantries, we sat on one of the beds and a few moments later, she began to reflect back on the crowing night.

The experience at the finale

The finale started at about 9pm, with a well-choreographed dance by the contestants. A few moments later, there was awarding of titles including Miss Photogenic (Elizabeth Bagaya), Miss Personality (Gift Claire Kabahemba), Miss Rising Woman (Gloria Nawanyanga) and Miss Congeniality (Oliver Nakakande), among others. Congeniality is often awarded to a girl whom the other contestants found easier to get along with.

Then, the eliminations came in. The numbers were cut from 21 to ten.

“I thought I had been rejected because when they called out the top nine, I was not among them,” Nakakande says, adding, “Then, suddenly, I heard my name being called out as the last girl to join the other nine. I was in shock. I was too close to getting booted out.”

As the show proceeded, Nakakande says she became more nervous.

“I was on tension. I do not know if any member of the audience noticed this, but, I was shaking like a leaf every time I walked onto that stage,” she says, adding, “Standing on that stage and being judged in front of many people is not easy. It is nerve wracking. Even when you saw us contestants being graceful and wearing wide smiles on our faces, deep down, most of us were scared including myself.”

The top ten were cut down to five and eventually to the final three. The two questions Nakakande was asked during the different stages of elimination included: What is the motto in her life to which she responded, “With God everything is possible.” The second question was, if she was given an opportunity to talk to Members of Parliament (MPs), what issue would she address in front of them?  She answered “unemployment.”

Besides the impressive manner in which she responded to the questions, Nakakande also stood out because of her poise, height and majestic way she walked on stage. Besides, she had earlier bagged the Miss Congeniality title. Not forgetting, she had a massive fan base in the crowd. Some even wore T-shirts with her pictures. And, every time Nakakande walked onto stage, this group of supporters was heard shouting her name on top of their lungs.

The win comes with a reward of a red branded Miss Uganda car and an opportunity to represent Uganda at the Miss World finale that will be held on December 14, 2019 in London, United Kingdom (UK).

Previous beauty pageant experience

Participating in Miss Uganda was not the first time she was taking part in a beauty pageant. The first time was a few years back during her studies at UMCAT School of journalism and Mass Communication, a privately run media training institution in Kampala where she was a student. It was while here that she contested for Miss UMCAT with other hopefuls.

“I competed and won,” she says.

The experience for her was an eye-opener to what it was like to participate in a beauty pageant. Nakakande learnt that beauty was not the only thing that guaranteed one to win the crown.  One also had to be intelligent.

Having acquired earlier experience from Miss UMCAT, Nakakande thought it was about time to aim for a higher crown, hence, giving it a shot at this year’s Miss Uganda pageant.

Her biggest worry at the moment

Often, fame comes at a cost. In Nakakande’s particular case, she is worried mostly about losing her privacy.

“It’s what scares me right now where almost everyone minds your business,” she says.

Despite the scare, the beauty queen believes she will slowly learn to adjust to the newly found fame because of the massive support currently from the Miss Uganda Foundation team, family members, friends, and fans.

Comparisons to Abenakyo

Nakakande is aware of the ongoing comparisons between her and Quinn Abenakyo, former Miss Uganda and current Miss World Africa.

Some of the contrasts are evident on different social media platforms where individuals are questioning whether she will leave a legacy like that of Abenakyo.

“I am aware I am stepping into very big shoes. It scares me, and, for this reason I know that I have to work very hard,” she says.

Despite the judgments, Nakakande insists that she is going to be herself. Not forgetting, she applauds Abenakyo for her achievements during her term as Miss Uganda.

“She is a darling and has done so well. I look up to her as a role model,” she says.

Regarding what projects she is passionate on doing during her one year reign, Nakakande says the previous title holders did most of the tasks she personally has at heart.

“There is nothing special I am going to do that they have not worked on. The girls worked on projects like keep a girl in school, teenage pregnancies, child abuse, and menstruation hygiene, among others. These are things I am personally keen about,” she says, adding, “My plan is to build on what they have already done.”

Other things, she says, will be figured out along the way of her reign.

Family and Background

Nakakande is the last borne of six children from their father who works as an administrator and late mother. She attended Kawempe Church of Uganda Primary School and completed primary seven in 2006.  She finished senior four in 2010 at Helm Secondary School and senior six in 2012 at Faiha High School, Gayaza. Afterwards, Nakakande enrolled at UMCAT School of journalism and mass communication.

“I signed up for a two year journalism diploma. However, I did not complete these studies for reasons I prefer not to mention publically,” she says.

Despite not finishing the journalism diploma, Nakakande in 2018 enrolled in Middlesex University in Dubai to pursue a bachelors degree in business management/management. Currently, she is in second year. On how she plans on balancing her studies alongside her Miss Uganda obligations, Nakakande responds by saying, “It is a flexible international learning institute where opportunities are given to study online, and, it’s what I will do during my reign.”

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