Kundwa Doriane – Catching up with Miss Rwanda 2015: On her Inspiring Journey, Passion and Future. Interview originally published in TAP MAG ISSUE 9.
TAP: Even though you certainly need no introduction to some of our readers, please re-introduce yourself to them and all our other global readers.
DK: First of all, thank you for interviewing me. My name is Doriane Kundwa. I’m from a small country in East Africa called Rwanda and I was blessed enough to be crowned Miss Rwanda in 2015.
TAP: Please tell us where you are currently based and what you’ve been up too?
DK: Last year, I moved to Canada where I currently live, work and study. Early this year, within my new Canadian-Rwandan community, I was appointed Vice President and Director of Public Relations by the International Rwanda Youth for Development (IRYD).
I am also presently exploring a few business opportunities that can connect Rwanda and Canada meaningfully.
I miss my friends and family back home. I dearly miss the mere fact of being home, around Rwandans and everyone speaking Kinyarwanda. Sometimes I do forget and speak or respond to people here in Kinyarwanda. It’s hilarious!
TAP: Excellent. You seem to have fit-in effortlessly within your new community in Canada. What do you miss most about home (Rwanda)?
DK: I miss my friends and family back home. I dearly miss the mere fact of being home, around Rwandans and everyone speaking Kinyarwanda. Sometimes I do forget and speak or respond to people here in Kinyarwanda. It’s hilarious! That maybe also shows how much I am connected to my precious roots.
I have to add that I am blessed and consoled by the fact that I do have members of my family in Canada with me. I have also made some new friends here. That is something I do not take for granted. Despite the homesickness, I am blessed nonetheless.
TAP: You are indeed blessed! What are your plans over the next five years? What are you most passionate about?
DK: Five years from now, I want to look back and say that I have effectively developed myself spiritually, personally and professionally within my Rwandan and Canadian communities.
I am passionate about God, business and knowledge. God because I cannot do without Him, business because I wish to create jobs and knowledge because it’s the power that allows you to choose wisely.
In Canada, I frequent a Christian church where I am hopefully serving God the right way. For business, I joined hands with IRYD, as we believe a lot of young Rwandans have business-worthy ideas that can be useful for them and others. As previously-mentioned, I am working on a business opportunity. You shall have details when they become public.
In the next 5 years, I hope I can inspire more young Rwandans at home and abroad to start their own businesses or even follow their own dreams in the arts, academia, sports and other domains.
The African girl child needs more deliberate empowerment from those that surround her. Even though my own country of Rwanda has made considerable strides in empowering the Rwandan girl, a lot is still missing in many countries in Africa.
TAP: Who are the three people that have impacted your life the most thus far?
DK: There are perhaps more than three people that have impacted my life. However, my mother and father have played a huge role in making me who I am today. They have always been there for me. As I grew up, they constantly reminded me that I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to.
The other third ‘person’ are my siblings, extended family and friends.
TAP: How did being miss Rwanda impact your life beyond the tittles and glamour?
DK: Being crowned Miss Rwanda in 2015 has opened up many opportunities for me. I have been able to travel, learn about new places and people both in Africa, Europe and North America. Ultimately, the crown enabled me to assume a higher sense of responsibility. The type of responsibility that extends beyond me to the public domain. As Miss Rwanda 2015, I somehow carry the entire nation with me. I represent Rwanda and Rwandans. This is something I do not take lightly. For example, I meet a lot of people that recognize me at most public events I attend here in Canada. This privilege comes with a responsibility attached to it. The people I meet who identify my crown with Rwanda remind me that wherever I go, I am a representative of my beloved country. There is no higher honour – and it is an honour I carry with pride and I embrace all the responsibilities attached to it.
As Miss Rwanda 2015, I somehow carry the entire nation with me. I represent Rwanda and Rwandans. This is something I do not take lightly.
TAP: Why should anyone visit Rwanda and what places would make Doriane’s top five must visit in Rwanda?
DK: Rwanda is a very beautiful country. The reference to Rwanda as a remarkable country of a “thousand hills and a million smiles” is true to the letter.
My top five must visit places in Rwanda (and things to do, if I must add that) would include, in no order of priority, a visit to the Volcanoes National Park to see gorillas, Lake Kivu by Serena Hotel, Akagera National Park, aerial sightseeing of Rwanda by Akagera Aviation and the Kigali Convention Centre Complex.
TAP: The African girl child – what is it that she needs the most?
DK: The African girl child needs more deliberate empowerment from those that surround her. Even though my own country of Rwanda has made considerable strides in empowering the Rwandan girl, a lot is still missing in many countries in Africa. For instance, in a lot of countries, girls face barriers relating to access to education, economic opportunity, social empowerment and other crucial aspects of life. We still have female genital mutilation as a practice, forced marriages of girls below the age of consent, higher school dropout rates for girls as compared to boys and the like. These are empowerment issues that we all need to address.
The African girl child needs empowerment through education, protection from vulnerabilities before she turns 18 (even beyond) and needs to be allowed to participate in society freely and equitably. I am proud that Rwanda has made considerable efforts in allowing girls to study, gain access to socio-economic opportunities as well as be protected by the State from external harm.
TAP: Any inspirational parting words?
DK: I am inspired a lot by Biblical verses. The most memorable one for me, which I apply in my every day life, is that “fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” from Isaiah 41:10.
TAP: That is indeed inspiring. Thank you.
DK: Welcome and thank you for having me.
TAP Magazine met up with Miss. Kundwa in Toronto earlier this fall to speak Rwanda, life after Miss. Rwanda 2015 and building a new home away from home in Canada. Photoshoot by @XVXYPhoto : Makeup by @savinakm06 – visit our Facebook page for full image gallery