Determined: It is one thing to dream and completely another to make a dream come true. Where others have failed, Leah Kagasa, the reigning Miss Uganda believes she can succeed. When Isaac Ssejjombwe caught up with the 21-year-old, she promised that the Miss World title is Uganda’s because this is ‘Our year’
Who is Leah Kagasa?
I am a normal girl, light-hearted and relatable. I am a little bit of an introvert so I love my ‘me time’, I am very aggressive and go after what I want. But in short I am a simple down-to-earth girl who loves God and prays a lot.
Are you religious?
Yes. I am a born again Christian, although I was born in an Anglican home.
Speaking about home, tell us a bit about your family background.
I was born and raised by Mr Paul Mutwamu and Mrs Florence Mutwamu who are both teachers at Kyebambe Girls Secondary School in Kabarole District. I grew up in a humble home of six children; five girls and one boy. I am the fourth born.
Which schools did you attend?
I went to three primary schools; Bweranyangi Girls, Buhinga Primary School and St Hellens Primary School, then Kyeizooba Girls for Senior One. I later joined Bweranyangi girls for S.2-S.4 and finished my A Level at Mary Hill High School. I am now awaiting my graduation from Makerere University Business School where I studied Bachelor of Science in Marketing.
You did a lot of school-hopping…
My parents are civil servants, so they were always transferred to different places. But when I got to secondary school, they decided that I join boarding school.
Who was Leah Kagasa before becoming Miss Uganda?
I used to work a lot and I attribute this to my parents who were both agriculturalists and teachers. And with six children, I did not expect them to pay for everything at campus. I remember getting my first job at 17 years before even finishing my Senior Six. I was interning with a company called Brand Revolution and this is where I developed my love for marketing. I saved some money for campus and in 2014, I worked at Beforward for six months and quit to work as a receptionist at a construction company. In between, I was working as an usher.
Besides getting some extra cash, why did you hop from job to job?
After joining campus, my lectures were always in the evening and I hate being dormant, so I used all my day time to look for cash. It was, however, a little bit hard to balance work and school, especially because I was in the middle of my course. When I realised this, I decided to quit the full time jobs and only did ushering gigs, which came at the weekend.
What inspired you to participate in Miss Uganda?
I always wanted to, but my parents told me that I had to first finish school. I honoured them and now here we are.
How did you end up in the competition and what was your parents’ reaction?
I first got involved in beauty pageants when I took part in the Miss Tourism competition in 2013. I was chosen among the top 10 and when I called my mother, she told me to first finish school. When I decided to run for Miss Uganda, they were a little skeptical at first but when I told them it was what I wanted, they supported me.
What was your crowning experience like?
We went for boot camp, where we sacrificed sleep and worked out every day. But besides that, we made friends, built contacts and after the competition, at least almost everyone knew where they would be working. The competition also boosted our confidence, especially on public speaking and I would advise someone to go for the competition and even if they do not win, at least they would have widened their contacts base.
Did you expect to be crowned?
I remember in the boot camp, they told us that “You guys need to win it” so throughout the boot camp you are really excited but when you reach the stage, all the excitement dies and you become nervous. But when I reached top five, I told myself “Leah, if you have reached this far and your parents are in the audience, if it’s not for you, at least win it for them” and I also did not want to let down the people who had voted for me. That alone gave me the confidence to win.
What do you think made you emerge the overall winner?
First, it is God because most of the girls were hot, had good personalities, were confident and had the potential to win. Besides that, I think I answered the questions correctly.
Who was your biggest threat during the whole journey?
My roommate Daisy Priscilla; she was very confident. Also Irene Nakitende was a very powerful speaker. Those two stood out for me.
You are the second Leah to become Miss Uganda and the last one’s reign was marred in negative publicity. Do you see yourself facing the same?
Leah Kalanguka is beautiful and I did not follow up much of her reign, but her strategy of fronting agriculture was good. However, we are two different people with different agendas. My strategy is empowering the girl child by giving them confidence, emancipation and helping them with social challenges such as HIV, early pregnancies, among others.
You are also the ambassador of SK Mbuga’s charity organisation. Tell us about that?
I was chosen because I won Miss Popularity and that same category is sponsored by SK Mbuga. I won this category before winning Miss Uganda.
What are your obligations towards these charity drives or organisations?
As Miss Popularity, he is my boss so it is about working with him when he has a charity event, fundraising or anything related. I have to show up with him, make public statements and we will start work when I return from Miss World.
What challenges have you faced so far as Miss Uganda?
I do not have a private life anymore but that is something I was aware of even before participating.
And what perks come along with the crown of Miss Uganda?
I no longer use public means because I have my own car. I am just 21 years old, from a humble home and not a minister’s daughter. Then I also get opportunities to work with people in high offices.
Which people are those that you have met?
I got a sponsorship from Captain Mike Mukula at his aviation school along with Miss East and the second runner up. And then I have met MPs and other important people.
It looks like your hands are full; jobs here and there. How are you going to balance all of this with the crown?
I have a whole team (Kezzi) behind me. My manager is Brenda Nanyonjo and she is doing a tremendous job.
So are you dating?
For now I am concentrating on my new role. Besides that, my relationship is something that should remain personal.
Any plans after Miss Uganda?
I talked about empowering the girl child. It starts now and I have been to Fort Portal to work on that because I am a role model to many girls.
My life changed for the better when I was crowned because the nine-month scholarship I got from Capt Mike Mukula starts next year and it guarantees me a job as part of the cabin crew.
Besides the tiara and the car, is there monetary attachment to being Miss Uganda?
Yes. I got a cash prize of Shs3m.
What did you use the money for?
I used some of it to start a poultry project at home and then changed my wardrobe a bit.
When you are not in the public eye, what are you doing?
I love watching movies, especially Science Fiction and listening to Jazz music.
What is your shoe size?
40 or 41, depending on the fitting. But it is nice that you want to buy me shoes.
What do you love the most about yourself?
I believe my eyes are quite catchy and I am beautiful.
How many children do you want to have and why?
I want to have six children because a big family is a blessing; there is no way a day like Christmas can be boring.
Which Miss Uganda stood out for you?
Sylvia Namutebi and Phiona Bizzu. There is something about them that I did not find in anyone else. They are so graceful and have a way they carry themselves.
How would you like to be remembered?
I want the world to remember the person who showed them that we live in a world of possibilities. That anything is possible when you put your mind to it, have faith in God and believe in yourself.
Miss World Dream:
I have faith and I have researched a lot about the Miss World pageant. They look at things such as how social you are and how active your social media is. Actually I need people to follow my pages because if you have a higher following, it gives you higher chances of winning. Then if you download the Miss World app and vote, it pushes you to the top 15 and in that category you just have to answer questions, the same routine that is used here. I am practicing my Fine Art talent. This is our year too. The Cranes made it to the African Cup of Nations and hopefully we will qualify for the World Cup as well, and then I will be the first Miss Uganda to win Miss World.