Thu. Nov 21st, 2019

The forbidden dress: the queens torn between two roads

By Marie Clemence CYIZA

Chantal in a catwalk candidly stepped onto the stage, her eyes glowing like a morning glory in wet season and her tender soft toned slim body well shown, thanks to the pink stringed white dotted bikini- with the audience screaming in wild cheers, you could know the elegance and beauty the young pageant carried on that stage. She felt confident, smiling that at least she has reached her dream- becoming a celebrity.

Moreover, most Rwandan young girl dreams of becoming “Miss Rwanda”. Barely 25 years ago, many parents didn’t wish their young girls to enter in Miss Rwanda Competition but now, things seem to be different where you can see parents accompanying their children in their way to Miss Rwanda.

Even though Miss Rwanda changed the perception of different parents and showbiz lovers, it is quite impossible to understand that Miss could wear a “bikini”.

Two days after the stage that carried around 10 contestants for Miss Rwanda beauty pageant that evening, Chantal who had been given a pass to a next level carried a gloomy face; disappointment and remorse was eating up that lustrous face that made her receive a standing ovation-something might have gone wrong, terribly wrong.

“When I left the stage, I was told that it was not good for me to put on a bikini,” it is not our culture, Umwali arambara akikwiza( a Rwanda girl dresses decently) they told me, “Am confused and am not happy,” she  said.

For Uwera who had to endure rebukes and boos from the audience and negative comments on her social media accounts seven years ago when she appeared on the stage of a beauty pageant with a swimsuit bikini is something to reckon with.

For girls with a passion for beauty pageant and modeling have struggled to stretch their legs to step into two roads – the road that says protects our culture and the other that says modernity has come, there is freedom to dress up as you please.

Rwandan Beauty Queens face the “Bikini” issue these days, an equivocal talking subject among different Rwandans and Showbiz lovers especially.

 But for the custodians of culture, the image is the not what is the docket for  culture.

“It’s not forbidden to wear “bikini”, it depends on where they wear it”- said Dr Jacques Nzabonimpa, Director of Culture at the Rwanda Academy for Languages and Culture (RALC).

A bikini is a woman’s two-piece swimsuit featuring  two triangles of fabric on top which  is like a bra and covering a woman’s breasts and two  triangles of fabric on the bottom.

“We are not against bikini” Dr Jacques added; “we just don’t agree with the fact that they wear it in those competitions. Girls participating officially in International Beauty Queen Competitions, we send them with some advice and instructions; they know it, we don’t send them in competitions that don’t respect our culture.”

At Umuganura event in the past, while the King was surrounded by his court and all people, they used to have time to choose champions in different areas where they also used to choose a girl that was stunningly beautiful among others, the “Today’s Miss Rwanda”.

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