CAPE TOWN– Twenty-five-year old Andrea Moloto, who won the Miss RD Congo crown at the weekend, has opened up and spoken about her joy over her “dream come true”.
Moloto, a financial accounting student, emerged the winner after 10 intense weeks of competition and was crowned queen.
She told the African News Agency (ANA) that she was chosen to represent the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as their ambassador.
“I am excited that I got what I wanted for so long. One of my dreams became reality and it was not the easy since the competition was tough.”
Moloto said admitted that the first week was tough and “the elimination rounds were the most stressful part” of the competition.
“Winning means the world to me,” she said, especially after being told by people that someone who someone wanted to pursue a career in chartered accounting shouldn’t be a model.
“Every time I walk on the ramp, I feel alive, empowered and beautiful … I would not have been here if I had listened to other people,” she said. She said people should never give up on their dreams.
She said her focus during her reign would be on empowering and helping women in need, especially women and children who have been victims of violence, and orphaned children living on the streets.
The newly crowned beauty queen said she would work hard to reflect the pageant’s pay-off line “Beauty that changes the world (La beaute qui change le monde)”.
“I want the girls to accept themselves the way they are – you do not have to have a small nose, thin lips and sleek hair to be called beautiful.”
She said the importance of self love and acceptance was one of the reasons why she stopped using chemicals to straighten her hair.
Moloto said she would be putting the “African swag” forward every single day of her reign.
The finale of the pageant, attended by 700 people, including dignitaries, ministers, members of parliament and celebrities was broadcast live on television and social media channels. Congolese artist Ferré Gola performed during the event.
The beauty pageant took a different direction to the traditional format of beauty pageants.
DRC Tourism Ministry spokesperson Farah Muamba told ANA that the pageant had experienced a few stumbling blocks in previous years, mostly “due to a lack of expertise and organisational skills.”
As a result, the pageant had “been neglected and lost its value” and needed a makeover which would positively impact on DRC’s image, transforming it from a once conflict-ridden country into an attractive tourism and investment destination, among the best in the world.
“There was no reality show on Congolese TV so we took the classical format of beauty pageants run over three hours, three outfits one question and stretched it over 10 weeks,” said Muamba.
The tourism ministry’s event partner Pgyma Communication CEO Alain Yav said: “We thought there was room to innovate in terms of TV content instead of a classical TV campaign.”
Muamba said that they, together with their partners, invested $2 million into revamping the pageant to boost the country’s tourism sector and transforming the country’s image as Miss RD Congo, Muamba said, was an ambassador for the country.
“Tourism is a strategic sector in our society and economy,” Muamba said. She explained that the country’s tourism industry was “still underdeveloped as the industry only contributes 0,1 percent of the country’s GDP and 0,7 percent of jobs.”
She added that according to World Tourism Statistics, the DRC attracted 186,000 visitors in 2011, mainly from Europe and neighboring African countries and generated $11 million in revenue.
The new look Miss RD Congo platform showcased DRC’s vibrant, artistic, creative flair, and Muamba said that the pageant’s social media platforms attracted great interest, including within the Congolese diaspora with over 70,000 Facebook fans, thousands of YouTube views per episode, over 5,000 Instagram followers and record TV viewership.
Moloto said that during her reign, she wanted people to see that even if “things are not always pink and rosy in my country, we are able to help those who are in need. Getting funds for orphans and female victims of violence is how I want to uplift the image of my country.”