By Steven Odeke
As the Miss World competition nears and with most countries’ beauty queens already heading down to Puerto Rico, a US territory, Uganda’s beauty queen Elizabeth Bagaya is still stuck here and could miss the competition if her visa issue is not sorted quickly.
According to Miss Uganda franchise CEO Brenda Nanyonjo, they have been in back-and-forth negotiations with the US Embassy, alongside the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, to grant Bagaya and herself a visa to travel to Puerto Rico for the contest to be held on December 16.
“We have already paid for the visa and are only waiting for the US Embassy to approve it. We want the embassy to understand that we are not going to the US, but Puerto Rico, which is their territory. But to get a Puerto Rican visa, one needs to go through the US Embassy,” Nanyonjo said.
She continued: “We contacted the Ministry of Tourism for assistance on this matter, which, in turn, contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is now in talks with the embassy. That is the stage we are at.”
This year’s Miss World competition, now in its 70th edition, will be held at the Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan. The swimsuit category (Miss World Beach Beauty) is expected to return after a five-year hiatus.
An online petition had been started by the Miss Uganda team needing 1,000 signatures to enable Bagaya get a visa, which were met by the time of writing this.
Speaking at the Uganda Media Centre at the beginning of the month, the Minister of State for Tourism, Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, rallied Ugandans to donate to a fundraiser to enable the beauty queen travel to Puerto Rico.
“Recently, we had Quiin Abenakyo (Miss Uganda 2018) carry the crown as the best in Africa and I have heard Bagaya is already ranked top 10, so we are sure she can bring the crown home,” he said.