Miss Rwanda is the country’s leading annual beauty pageant. A team of organisers - led by Rwanda Inspiration Backup - tours four provinces of the country and the capital city of Kigali to select five contestants in each, who then go through a mini-camp before heading to the semi-finals.
At the semi-finals, out of 25 girls, 10 girls are eliminated to remain with 15 girls who head to a two-week boot camp, leading to the grand finale.
The selection process follows strict rules and guidelines, where the best of the contestants are put to different challenges; out of which judges decide the winners based on the girls’ ability to become a role model and a compelling figure that actively contributes to the country’s social and cultural progress.
In December 2016, Miss Rwanda debuted in Miss World, a world-class beauty pageant. Every winner will now also participate in the global competition.
Since 2015, four crowns have been used to decorate the winners. They are circular handcrafted headdress won by Miss Rwanda and her two runner-ups.
Commissioned to the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda, the design of the crowns was made using beads (approximately 1,300 each) and other traditional materials.
The crown that belongs to Miss Rwanda has three triangular features. They stand for Rwanda’s many hills, known as impinga in Kinyarwanda – which also brings out the meaning of Nyampinga: a gils that stands out of many others because of her outstanding brilliance, beauty and respect for cultural values.
The tall triangular shape, in the middle, stands for the Miss and the other two stand for the runner-ups. The crowns of the latter, however, only have one triangular shape.
The crowns also bear the colours of Rwanda’s national flag: green symbolizes the country’s prosperity; yellow is symbolic of potential and real economic development; and blue is symbolic of happiness and peace.
This implies that Miss Rwanda and her runner-ups should be the ambassador of these aspects in or outside the country. They are tasked to be representatives of their fellow youths, be their voice as well as their role model, and actively contribute to the development of the country. Moreover, the girls are expected to always identify themselves with the country, cherish and maintain its culture.
You can learn more about these crowns on the official website of the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda.
IRADUKUNDA ELSA was born on 25 March 1998 in Kigali, Rwanda at Nyirinkwaya hospital. She is the fourth-born in a family of eight children, two boys and six girls. She speaks Kinyarwanda (native) and English. She also understands French but do not speak it fluently.
Elsa went to Le Petit Prince for her nursery and part of her primary school education. She then went to Centre Scolaire Utunyenyeri from Primary 4 to Primary 6. She studied her first two years of secondary school at International Window in Mbarara, Uganda before going to King David Academy, in Kigali, from Senior 3 to Senior 6; where she graduated secondary school in Literature, Economics and Geography last year and passed the national examination.
She likes being involved in community service and charity. Her hobbies are swimming and reading novels that are based on true stories. She started swimming at a the age of ten and worked as a fashion model since the age of 16.
Elsa lives in Kicukiro district, Kigali with her family. Her father, Mana Samuel, runs a bureau de change and her mother, Mukandekezi Christine, runs a wholesale shop.
She auditioned in Rubavu district, Western province, on 14 January, and was crowned Miss Rwanda 2017 on 25 February.