Ababu promises support as Miss World placed in Arts ministry

Miss World Kenya 2022/23 winner Chantu Kwamboka (sitting) is crowned by Arts CS Ababu Namwamba (2nd right) and franchise director Terry Mungai in Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Miss World Kenya has finally found a home at the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports, and Arts.

The breakthrough will see the government incorporate the pageant into its planning as it reassembles its priorities in creative arts.

What a boost this is for the 50-year-old Miss World Pageant, the world's most prestigious beauty pageant, which has seen Kenya carry the African flag high, coming close to clinching the world crown several times.

Kenya has been named African champion four times, despite the government's dismal support, which should ideally fund the pageant's operations.

Kenya has been regarded as the new kid on the block when it comes to pageantry showcasing for the last five years, with three models representing various pageants winning continental titles this year alone.

Until Saturday night, when Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports, and Arts Ababu Namwamba announced in the already parliament-tabled creative industry policy paper that his ministry would take drastic measures to fund pageantry, the Miss World Kenya crown was the sole labour of its Kenyan franchise director Terry Mungai, who is also the CEO and founder of Ashleys Kenya Limited.

Namwamba said: "I want it to be known that for a long time you struggled to figure out where this pageant fits into the government apparatus. I'm not talking about knee-jerk assistance, but rather substantive, deliberate, long-term, and dependable assistance.

"For the first time, President William Ruto has created a ministry that can support young people, sports, and the arts under the same roof, so that music, film, fine art theatre, and pageantry are now under that same roof."

The CS spoke as the chief guest during the ceremony held at Two Rivers mall.

"You've found a new home, and I'm the new sheriff there. No more struggle. We will collaborate, and we are determined to take care of you and the pageant beginning now," the CS said, before proceeding to plead placements of former pageant crown holders in the newly formed Creative Arts docket.

Veronica Nduva, Principal Secretary, State Department of Gender and Affirmative Action, was also in attendance.

The pageant also received a three-year partnership with the mall as last year's Miss World Kenya runner-up Chantou Kwamboka was crowned in a competitive final that also saw the Miss Universe Kenya 2018 crown holder take position two.

Faith Wanjiku, a 24-year-old professional runway model, finished third in a list of 17 that included the who's who of Kenya's top runway scene.

Kwamboka, 24, an undergraduate student at Maseno University studying Medical Biotechnology with Information Technology, aced it during the final round of eight, question and answer period, after eloquently articulating why she was the best suited to win.

"Every girl in this room deserves to win. We have all graduated from the training with different strengths that should carry the pageantry with the dignity and respect it deserves.

"However, I firmly believe that my ambitions and those of the pageantry do align, and whatever God has made align must come to pass," Kwamboka said.

The Ocean Youth Innovations volunteer, who was born in Turkana and raised in four different countries, was overcome with emotion as her predecessor Sharon Obara handed over the throne to her.

Her parents were present to congratulate her on her victory. She received Sh250,000 in addition to other perks.

Brunah Oguta, a 24-year-old Kenyatta University graduate and fashion designer who runs her own Flamingo Hand Made 254 brand, appeared to be the clear winner as the models performed the hits.

It was a battle of wits between the judges and the masses that saw her win the People's Choice award. And on a night when the models went beyond showcasing beauty by displaying various talents such as singing and violin playing, there was no doubt about the quality of the outcome, which will now see Kenya make its pitch when international duty calls.

The glamorous event, which was nothing short of entertaining and glitzy, drew guests from all walks of life. Those in attendance, dressed to the nines, made every moment count as they cheered on their favourite contestant to take the crown home.

As the night's emcees, radio personality Steve Maghana aka Oga Obinna and KTN Home's showbiz host Claudia Naisabwa kept the crowd in check.

The contestants who gave it their all on stage were introduced to the cheering audience with a well-choreographed dance while wearing Ankara tops and white jeans.

The finalists put their best fashion foot forward, wearing trendy and stylish outfits designed by some of the country's top designers.