It is a culture that is stamped, sealed and signed that in Uganda, winners at different Beauty Pageants take home a ‘brand new’ car of any type. Pageants like Miss Uganda always give out the latest cars; they have given out a Toyota Wish, Raum and Spacio in the past years. Miss Tourism organisers also give out any latest cheap brand of car to the winner with the notable ones being an Ipsum and a Toyota Wish.
Friday evening, the much anticipated first edition of the Miss Curvy completion came to pass seeing Belinda Nansaasi take home the biggest prize of the night. She was the judges’ favourite and was crowned Miss Curvy Uganda 2019/20.
Nansaasi, as it was pledged in the beginning, was handed over her car keys by Hon Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chip whip. However, the car was not brand new as the organisers had promised. Even though the license plate was covered, the Motor third party insurance of the car, showed it was a UAL 810Y and was initially owned by a one David Matovu.
The car seemed to be bought as a second hand or any of the organisers decided to give out the car to the winner. The car was green in colour with Miss Curvy stickers.
On the other hand, the other winners cried foul and thought they were cheated by the organisers because the contestants with the least votes came out in the first position. A group of them kept out of the venue, Imperial Hotel talking to the media on how they deserved to win.
However, after being crowned, Belinda vowed to act as a role model for other women with “plus-size” figures.
“I am going to be an inspiration,” an overjoyed Belinda said after winning the title, beating 24 other finalists for the grand prize.
“Being plus-size is not a problem,” she continued. “So be happy about yourself and make sure you don’t quit. Just keep going.”
The pageant was part of a government campaign to attract tourists to Uganda.
But the campaign caused controversy in February when tourism minister Godfrey Kiwanda suggested Ugandan women’s curvaceous beauty was “a product to be marketed along with what we already have as a country ranging from Nature, the language and food, to make it a tourist attraction.”
Women’s rights activists were outraged by the comments and called for the minister to resign.
“This is perversion. To think women can be used as sex objects in this age and time is an absurdity and we condemn it,” Rita Aciro, executive director of the Uganda Women’s Network, said at the time.
Ugandan entrepreneur and activist Primrose Nyonyozi Murungi launched an online petition to stop the campaign, which she said was “totally unacceptable and demeaning to us”.
“Women in Uganda have been attacked while on the streets. What happens now is that the government is confirming a stereotype that women are sexual objects and can be touched regardless and more so made a product of tourism,” she said.
Former opposition leader in parliament, Winnie Kiiza, said the move came “at a time (when) women face fear and stigma in a male-dominated society”.
Minister Kiwanda sought to play down the controversy on Friday.
“I also believe that there is a new wave that is going to come to Uganda, a new confidence that is going to be built among plus-size ladies,” he said.