Phiona Kyeru was recently crowned Miss Tourism. Quick Talk recently found her at Hotel Africana and had a chat with her:
Hi, Phiona; kodheyo! [She is also Miss Tourism Busoga]
[Laughs:] Baliyo…Hi, Quick Talk.
Congratulations on being the new Miss Tourism!
Is Quiin Abenakyo [former Miss Uganda] your sister?
No! But I know her; she is from another district and I’m from Iganga district.
You know her? What kind of person is she?
We are not related, but I can tell you she is a wonderful girl… she interacts freely and is a very approachable lady; it’s just nice being around her.
So, Miss Tourism! What next?
I will be heading to Malaysia for the Miss Tourism International competitions [she is all smiles. Quick Talk wishes her all the luck].
By the way, which tourism cluster do you think needs urgent attention?
Culture… many people are embarrassed by their culture; for instance, in star hotels instead of having imported chairs we should be having crafted chairs and tables that reflect our culture. [Good luck on that one, too.]
It is almost a month in office; have you achieved something already?
[Laughs] I think I’m loved and I’m doing something I love. I count myself successful. I have achieved one of my dreams but things have changed; I lost my good life.
Really? I thought this is the good life?
The way I used to carry myself has changed. I have to take myself with respect because I know I’m representing the country in tourism both locally and internationally. If I win Miss Tourism International, I expect more tourists into the country and the economy will grow; that means from now on I live a decent life, no scandals that will injure my reputation.
I have learnt a lot so far; etiquette has changed, I have rubbed shoulders with powerful people in the country, people are now looking for me to take selfies with them...[laughs]
You look so small! What do you weigh?
Eeeh, that question also! I weigh 25kgs and I am 22 years old…because I know that will be the next question.
Hahaha, women and their age…!
[Laughs] That’s my age; I can give you a copy of my ID. I was born September 27, 1997, which is also the World Tourism day; probably that’s why I’m Miss Tourism. [Talk about destiny!]
Some women can’t have enough of shoes; how many pairs do you have?
Really! Quick Talk, why should people care? [Oh, you are a role model in many ways now] Anyway, I have a lot of them I have never tried to count them.
What! And what takes most of your wardrobe space?
I have a lot of pants and jumpsuits; okay, I also have dresses but not as many as trousers.
What inspires you?
My love for travel and I also treasure our fauna and flora. I want it to be always Ugandan. I love my country.
There are a lot of silly stereotypes attributed to Basoga; don’t they offend you?
[Throwing hands in the air] I’m a proud Musoga and I speak freely about it, but sometimes I feel bad when bad things are attributed to Basoga. But we are working hard. Sometimes I take the jokes lightly. Let them talk as we Basoga prove them wrong. We had Miss Uganda, now Miss Tourism, and more is coming.
Well said. What are your hobbies?
Reading, acting, and swimming.
Have you been to our national parks?
Oh yeah. During our boot camp, we visited Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth and Lake Mburo national parks. I loved the giraffe because of its beautiful coat and also the shoebill stork because it can only be found in Uganda.
Ok, now let’s talk about love; are you dating?
Let’s keep that secret. I’m not comfortable talking about it.
Most men come to us because we are putting on crowns… or when we are people of importance but when the crown goes, they also leave; so, my dating should be left for the pubic to guess.
So, what do you miss most about your former life?
I miss the real me. I’m an introvert and quiet person, but now I’m supposed to talk, be outspoken and grace events. I miss being in the kamooli [the silent WhatsApp group members]. Also I have to be extra careful in whatever I do or say.
Rema and Kenzo, what is your take?
Relationships are hard; none of us knows what really happened and if I were Kenzo, I would have not brought this thing into the public. [Such wisdom for a 22-year-old!]
Who is Phiona Kyeru?
- Phiona Kyeru was born in 1997 to the late David Balazewa and Florence Nabirye of Iganga district.
- She is the first born in a family of three; two girls and one boy.
- She attended Berkley High School for her PLE, Makerere College School (Macos) for O and A-level, had a short stint at Kyambogo University.
- She later joined Uganda Cooperative College – Tororo where she did a Diploma in Cooperatives and Business Administration.