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Tomboy turned beauty queen

By - | June 13th 2012

By Shirley Genga

Shamim Ali [Photo:Agwanda/Standard]  

Did you expect to win the Miss World Kenya title?
Never in a million years did I think I would win. There were so many beautiful girls in the house. I was shocked. When my name was called as the winner, I did not hear at fi rst. When I was being called, I felt like my legs were melting. As I walked down the runway to receive the crown, I felt like I was walking on air.

How did you hear about the competition?
A friend told me about the auditions. I went with a friend and her sister. We auditioned and I emerged among 18 girls who had made it to the Miss World Kenya house.

Where was the Miss World Kenya house this year?
It was at Hill Park, Tiwi Beach in Mombasa. We stayed there for five weeks. There was elimination on a weekly basis until only ten of us were left.

What was your experience in the house like?
It was a lot of hard work. We would wake up at 5.30am and go to the gym. We had to learn how to walk on heels, how to sit and carry ourselves. We also had make-up application classes, after which we would have made up challenges.

During the challenge, we would be asked to wear make-up, our photo would be taken, and we would be judged on that. We even had a cooking competition and I won and spent a night in the penthouse.

How did the experience change you?
I have always been a tomboy, so I never really cared about how I looked. As long as I had showered and worn perfume, I was good to go. I did not even own a pair of heels (laughs). I loved to go to the beach in my sleepers and harem pants or tracksuits but now, I always make sure I wear make-up and heels.

Why do you think you won?
I can easily adapt and endure any hardship. Snapp, the sponsors for Miss World Kenya, were looking for a girl who is articulate, intelligent and sophisticated and that is me. During the final show, the girl who walked down the runway was not the same one who entered the competition.

The sponsors were also looking for someone who could live with people from different backgrounds and I am that person. I enjoy meeting new people. Miss World Kenya franchise is about beauty with a purpose, and I think they loved my cause, which is; drug

Who is your role model?
I look up to Ben Carson. After reading his story in Think Big, I realised that we have similar backgrounds. He too, was raised by
a single parent. He was not from a wealthy family but was able to break boundaries and become a successful neurosurgeon. He made something great out of his life andthat is what I want to do.

What are you looking forward toafter the crown?
I have one month before the Miss World competition in China. I am looking forward to flying out of
the country, working on my drug abuse project and to change lives. I will also be participating in EABL various CSR projects.

Why did you choose drug abuse asyour project?
Where I come from, drugs abuse is rampant and affecting the youth. Many young people are getting into it, not knowing what they are getting themselves into. It is so rampant in Mombasa so that if it is not affecting your family directly, you know someone who is abusing it.

When you were crowned Miss World Kenya you won Sh1 million. What will you do with it?
I have always loved education but after completing high school last year, I found myself despairing about my future because I did not have the money to proceed with my education. I kept wondering what the future held for me. Winning the competition is an answer to my prayers. I do not want to buy anything big or fancy, I just want to go to university.

Tell us a little bit about where you comefrom?
I grew up and live in Mombasa. I have no siblings. I was raised by a single mum and had a simple childhood. When I was younger, I would feel bad because I did not have a dad, especially when other kids at school would talk about their fathers. My mum was always there for me and always made sure I never felt like I was missing out on anything.

Who is Shamim Ali?
I have always been disciplined and education-minded. When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor then it changed to lawyer, and by the time I was joining highschool, I wanted to be an engineer. But while in high school, I also realised I was
passionate and good in art so by the time I was leaving high school, I knew without a doubt I wanted to be an architect.
Hopefully in the future, I will be joining university to study architecture.

What is your beauty secret?
Swimming and being happy always. I love to swim — it keeps you fit and trim. I have always participated in swimming competition. I currently swim at Coast Swimming Club where I also doing I life saving and coaching classes.

Are you dating?
No; I am still young there is no hurry. I want to figure myself and my life first.

Future aspirations…
I would love to study architectural design in Russia but if that is not possible, I would do it at the University of Nairobi. I would also love to continue to be a voice when it comes to drug abuse. After I hand over my crown next year, I will continue working on the project.

How has your life changed since winning the competition?I feel more responsible, like I need to be a role model. Young girls look up to me (laughs). I now also have a team of people around me. I have a driver, G4S security, a make-up person, and I get to wear designer clothes. I am enjoying every moment.

What are your last words?
Be simple and believe in God. It is also important to be positive and to believe in yourself because not everyone will like you and they will always try to put you down. Rise above it all and do not listen to what others say. If you have a dream, go for it. Also
remember you have to work hard, because nothing worth having in this world is for free.

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