The 25th Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth is first Ugandan to hold the crown

(CaribCommx apologies to Reyne that this report has been delayed while production of the journal was paused – unfortunately videos and images sent by Reyne did not reach us)

Reyne Kazooka, 22 years-old, the 25th Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth is a worthy winner in the tradition of her predecessors.
Reyne made history by becoming the first Ugandan to hold the title, and combined the assets of tradition with a fresh approach befitting the contest’s new ownership and promotion. Several previous title-holders were present to witness her coronation by immediate predecessor Nicole Afolabi.

Reyne told CaribCommx that, while her family originates from Uganda, she, herself, was born in the UK. She is currently a Law and Economics student at the New College of Humanities. She agreed to answer a few questions so that the public can get to know better the outstanding young lady who now holds the prestigious title.

Good afternoon Reyne, and welcome. Thank you for taking the time to speak to Caribcommx

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

How did you find out about the Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title? 

I previously held the title of Miss Uganda UK 2nd Princess 2019-22. My Queen mother at the time had recommended me as she believed I was the perfect candidate. After speaking to the wonderful Shirley (promoter and former winner of the title), I knew that this would be an excellent opportunity – especially in the light of the unprecedented 3 years the UK had just experienced. 

What do you remember about the night you won the title? 

God – first and foremost. I believe that what some may call coincidence is part of a journey to get us to where we need to be – even if it is not where we would like to be. So, I remember taking a lot of the stress off myself by simply enjoying the day’s preparations and the night. One of the best feelings is watching the development of all the girls. Whilst getting ready backstage, there was a confidence that far surpassed make-up, hair, shoes, and clothes. We were finally seeing the fruits of our labour and because everyone had worked so hard, we were able to really counteract nerves that we had. 

What was the atmosphere like on the night – the crowd, other contestants etc ?

Awe-inspiring. We had not heard each other’s speeches which meant that everyone’s motivation and purpose for being on that stage was so organic and this meant that we could bounce off each other’s energies backstage. But once the lights where on and the seats were filled the entire crowed made me feel empowered and reminded me of the reason I was walking there, for the millions of people who …  

Did you know much about the Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title before you entered? 

Because there had not been a show since 2012 – although both Jacqueline Matovu and Shirley Dee had given me a lot of information – I was not aware of the high standing of the title amongst the African and Caribbean community. But as I entered, and its history began to reveal itself – such as the early connection to the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper -all the contestants and myself realised that this contest was very deep rooted. I feel honoured to have the ability to hold such a legacy on my shoulders.  

Did any of the former titleholders liaise with you and give you advice? 

Not personally as such but we met with a good number of the previous title-holders throughout the journey – especially at the pre-launch lunch. Theresa Lang, 9th Miss Caribbean and Commonwealth, really gave me an insightful perspective on how to carry myself. This contest is called a contest and not a pageant for a purpose and with exceptionally good reason. However, that does not mean that the etiquette of a queen must be forgotten.
Naturally, I do dot my I’s and cross my t’s but now I understood why! Growing up in an era where language and its semantics are very quickly evolving, slang did not come naturally to me as I had moved up and down the country so often. So, I often felt disconnected to pockets of friends and with the family that I have. But I used this to my strength.
Shirley was amazing and built all of us girls’ confidence. With her can-do attitude and clear visions, she liaised with us on how important our efforts were and how confidence could mould and shape our outcomes. We also heard from Margarette, Hadda, Natalie, Nicole, and many others who all gave us invaluable advice not only on how to prepare but how to handle and manage the title.  

What does winning the Miss Caribbean & Commonwealth title mean to you? 

It is an honour. Reiterating from my speech I believe that the best celebration and adoration to receive is from a division of people/women who have had to fight for what they have. The women that have held this very title before me have gone on to do outstanding things and knowing I have their support is breath-taking. It gives me the motivation to want to do the grandiose things I have planned, and to such purpose. 

What would you like to do during your reign? 

I am currently focusing most of my efforts on female empowerment. In terms of charity, I would be going to be working with Domestic violence charities in the UK as they are amazing and seeing how we can incorporate some of these ideas into our home nations. 
All human life comes from a female and female empowerment to me is not about climbing the entrepreneurial ladder – it is about enabling women to tap into a level of contentment and confidence that allows them to achieve and succeed; to be creative and innovative in all that they do.  

Uganda had the highest percentage of self-employed women, but this does not account for the purchasing power they have or even for a substantial proportion of the distributed wealth. This is common for African and Caribbean countries, but it is in reverse in the UK. Women do not make up for many of the self-employed and are not in industries such as construction.
All things flow through women as they give life, nurture life, and evolve life – therefore by marrying up these two cultures, I aim to use my construction business to empower women into these industries either through employment into STEM or show these women that they can create meaningful and powerful brands and do not have to be confined to the domestic roles they have been assigned.  
This all goes to say that I would like to grow my business by offering opportunities to pockets and communities of women to enter construction and property. Whilst training others to do the same.  

How you got any particular talents and ambitions which you can bring to the title? 

Your early-20s really are a whirlwind as you are constantly redefining yourself whilst learning about yourself. I used to sing but stopped in my teenage years and now being a new adult, I have not quite found and homed into a talent! But I have thousands of ambitions; I am in love with the concept of legacy and would love to leave an echo for people to follow. This could be through support financially, emotionally, or simply through education. I want to create spaces that allow people to be unapologetically themselves. Of course, I cannot change the world and I will not even be able to scratch the surface within my reign. But I will forever aspire to help whoever I can whenever I can  

Do you have any hobbies or interests? 

I am a massive foodie and derive so much joy from simply cooking for others – from Ugandan dishes to Italian and even Caribbean dishes. Although I aspire to have a career in the legal industry, construction is my hobby. I love being able to see the fruits of my labour realized before my eyes.  

Thank you, Reyne, for coming to visit us and giving your time for the interview

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