MISS UGANDA. 19-year-old Phiona Bizzu was selected as Miss Uganda 2012 at a pageant held last Friday at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Sharon M. Omurungi talked to the beauty who is set to represent Uganda at the Miss World pageant later this year.
Phiona Bizzu presents herself as shy yet confident. The moment she sits down for an interview, she smiles and then quickly explains that she loves smiling.
When she was selected for the top five, she says it’s then that she felt she had a chance to win. “However, at some point, I felt intimidated and scared,” she says. “Sometimes people underestimate me because of my age. I mean look at most of the girls I was contesting with; they were older than me and some of them had graduated.” The judges showed her that age is just a number and she feels “lucky and blessed” to have been chosen to be the face of Uganda.
For her to say that she is lucky is not an understatement because during the pre-selection in Kampala, she came at the last minute when the finalists were about to be announced. Luckily for her, she was among the 22 finalists. “I had thought that the interviews would be at 6pm, however, as I learnt from one of my sister’s friends, who I was contesting with, they had begun earlier in the day. I ran fast because I couldn’t let the chance pass me by.”
To be a go getter this year was one of her year’s resolutions. This resolution, coupled with not wanting to disappoint her sister who had always pushed her go for the Miss Uganda crown gave her the confidence she needed to contest.
Becoming Miss Uganda has been one of her dreams. She started modelling actively while at school in Naalya S.S, Namugongo, during the entertainment shows organised by different clubs.
Asked about the Miss Uganda boot camp where the girls were trained in different aspects like etiquette and cat-walking, she says she enjoyed her stay there because of the chaperones who treated them as daughters and made them feel at home. “I loved it at the camp despite the fact that girls have lots of drama.”
The three weeks she spent at the camp at Ndere Centre were not wasted. She learnt public speaking. She even lowers her voice to ask me if I think her speech is bad. She points at her sitting (she is seated with her legs together, the back straight and the chest up). “Apart from what I have mentioned, I learnt a lot more. I learnt how to be confident especially when I am communicating with people.” She hopes to use all that that she learnt in her daily life.
The camp is not the first place where she first had to live with people that she wasn’t accustomed to. She grew up at Good Shepard’s Fold orphanage in Mukono after her parents passed away. She lost her parents when she was only six years.
“They died a year after we had moved to Jinja from Lira. Then my siblings (two sisters and brother) and I moved to the orphanage.”
While some orphans do not enjoy their childhood and would rather not talk about it, Bizzu, smiles when asked about her childhood. “I enjoyed my childhood. I liked the orphanage because I got close to a number of people.”
It wasn’t just getting close to the people; it was learning how to associate with different people who come from different backgrounds. It’s a tool that she has used up to now and employed while at the camp with the girls.
She closes her eyes as she remembers some of the activities that she enjoyed doing with the visitors who came to the orphanage. “I loved working with the different groups especially at the clinic.”
The orphanage was a Christian one, which taught her to be a God-fearing young woman. She left the orphanage at the age of 16, when together with her siblings, they went to stay with their guardian in Jinja. She is currently living with her sister.
Being an orphan hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams. She is in her S.6 vacation and will join Makerere University Business School to do a Bachelors in International Business on government sponsorship. She loves travelling not just within the country but to different countries, which is one of the reasons as to why she applied for the International Business course, as she can be able to work anywhere in the world.
Though both her studies and being Miss Uganda are demanding, she says she will manage to handle both tasks well. “I can multi task, so, it won’t be hard for me.”
She won’t stop to achieve what she wants because even the woman, Oprah Winfrey, who inspires her didn’t give up her dreams despite her poor background.
Life as Miss Uganda
More often than not, fame won’t leave you the same person that you were. Bizzu has already started dropping some of the things she would do if she wasn’t Miss Uganda. “The difference is already there. I have started regulating my movements. I can’t go wherever I want to go.”
Next week, she starts to go through training for the Miss World pageant in China and she has already done some research about Chinese culture. She bows, giving an example of the Chinese greeting that they use to show respect, and adds that she is going to kneel while greeting officials at the Miss world to show the Ugandan way of giving a respectful greeting. “I want to take the Ugandan culture to the world. I will greet people while kneeling since this is one of the common cultural aspects in most Ugandan cultures.”
At Miss World, it pays off to be sporty. So does she know any sport? Yes, though she doesn’t practice a lot, she loves sport. Her games are basketball and volleyball.
She will start on her charity work duties immediately she gets back from Miss World. As an orphan, she would like to work with different orphanages. “I will start in Jinja with an organisation for street children. They house them but if we could provide them with meals at least once a day, it would change their lives.”
Coming from the northern region herself, she would also want to help people who have were affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army war that went on for over 20 years. She would want to provide war survivors with counselling, beddings and medical care when she can.
One of the questions she tries to avoid is about dating and family. She is not dating and she says she hopes to start a family but only if the time is right.
About MISS UGANDA 2012?
Age: Bizzu is 19-years old.
What she does: She is a student in her S.6 vacation and she is set to join Makerere University Business School for a degree in International business.
Growing up: She lost her parents at a tender age of six and she grew up in an orphanage. That’s why helping orphans is high on her charity work agenda.