Lesson From The Balbine Strategy

Why Balbine’s Pitch at Miss Rwanda Grand Finale Wasn't Just Another Promise

Right after the organizers of Miss Rwanda 2015 concluded the search for 25 pre-finalists from their tour across Rwanda’s provinces and the City of Kigali, we saw massive online campaigns to promote the contestants — surely the best since 2009. Many of us witnessed immense support for various contestants, public endorsements by local famous artists and, perhaps for the very first time, we saw “sponsored” posts on Facebook, campaigning for select contestants — if not one.

In fact, our social media feeds featured some of the most attractive posters in the history of the controversial contest that is Miss Rwanda.

A few days after the campaigns began, I criticized the fact that none of the contestants gave a meaning to their “Vote for me” messages. Perhaps it wasn’t time yet.

A while after, a short video promoting Kundwa Doriane, who became the ultimate winner of the crown, appeared on my Facebook newsfeed.

In the video, she said: “Hello! I am Kundwa Doriane, I am contesting for Miss Rwanda 2015. I thank you for the continued love and support. The race continues; please keep supporting me, voting for me, even on social media. I am number 10. May God protect you; I love you so much.”

Later on, I shared the video with my Facebook friends with this comment: “I think the scriptwriter should be fired. I can’t believe she only said this. *RUNS*”

A few days later, another video by the same contestant appeared on my newsfeed. This time around Kundwa said, “Hello. My name is Kundwa Doriane. Some of my hobbies are dancing, hanging out with friends, family and helping other people. I’m a contestant running for Miss Rwanda 2015 and my decision to enter the competition was to have a chance of playing a role in the development of my country and to inspire young people to be patriotic and to follow their dreams. This video is my thank you to everyone that has continuously supported and voted for me. There are still two more weeks to go. Please keep voting for me; my number is 10. Murakoze cyane. God bless you.”

I shared this one too — and said: “Perhaps it’s time we try some lighter skin and see what it gives?”

When the judges at the Grand Finale, last month, challenged the 5 top-finalists to unveil key projects that they intend to undertake, the girls went wild. They all surely presented important projects:

First, Lynker Akacu spoke about providing training for housemaids, especially those who care for children. If you talk about children, almost everyone listens.

Second, Kundwa Doriane, reinforced her pledge to help the youth “discover, sharpen and use their talents.” She went on to mention a few famous names of those whom she believes have used their talents, and said these people “make us fall in love with humanity.” That was cute!

Third, Balbine Mutoni talked about her plans to encourage and push more Rwandan women and girls into ICT. Fiona Ntarindwa, fourth, reminded us about the importance of fighting prostitution and why “education is the answer to everything.”

Last, but not least, Vanessa Uwase who said her “biggest project is going to be working with the elders and experts” in order to help the youth “use the knowledge of our culture to influence the world.”

The girls’ projects were undeniably captivating and — more or less — well presented. It is important, I think, that whoever followed the competition take note of how one young lady had crafted her speech; that is contestant number 13 Balbine Mutoni.

Balbine Mutoni Dances at Miss Rwanda 2015Unlike the other 4 top-finalists, she wanted the public — well, the judges — to not only understand the value of her idea, but she also showcased how she very much relates to it because she’s been involved in such initiatives. In other words, her previous experiences made her more qualified to pursue the project she intended to undertake. Besides, she seemed to understand that organisations such as Girls in ICT Rwanda are already involved in such a cause, and she said she would partner with other groups.

And as “a true example of an empowered young lady,” she also proudly mentioned what she has achieved while working with a local IT company: to create a mobile application that educates kids about their cultural heritage.

Because it is vital that we encourage the youth to develop entrepreneurial skills, take initiative, and embrace the “can-do” spirit at a young age, the likes of Balbine ought to be encouraged and valued. Such people deserve this because they don’t just make promises or present vague ideas. They reflect a strong image of true leadership and vision. Moreover, they have tried, and are capable of shaping the future we always talk about.

To say you can produce a Nyampinga in one or two months is not totally wrong. But to believe they already exist — those who never doubted their capabilities even at a younger age — is something worth trying every time we think of the future.

Perhaps Balbine’s pitch was not the best, but it should remind us of the importance of experience and effort, especially in the context of this particular contest that aspires to give rise to a “role model” that inspires her peers.

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