Dar es Salaam. Eighteen years ago a young beauty Hoyce Temu rose beyond the limits of the day to be crowned Aspen Miss Tanzania in a hotly contested pageantry.
Those were the days when Miss Tanzania was one of the hottest events on the entertainment calendar, probably only next to the Simba –Yanga derby.
It was not an ordinary night as that win made her the sixth queen in modern day history of Miss Tanzania and the last in the 20th century.
Today, even with the turmoil that is at Miss Tanzania, it is a decision that the former beauty queen does not regret ever making.
So much water has since passed under the bridge but Hoyce Temu still believes that it was the right decision to join the contest because her motivation then is still the same today.
“I wanted to be the voice of the voiceless in Tanzania with more focus on children women and the underprivileged,” she told The Beat this week in an exclusive interview.
Unlike the beauties of those days, Hoyce who had just completed her A-Levels at Zanaki Secondary School decided not to pursue a career in modeling or any such related fields.
The temptation to follow other fields was just too strong and it took some pep talk from some of her close friend and family.
“When I won Miss Ilala which gave me the ticket to compete at Miss Tanzania I had just finished my Form Six. I had been selected to join the University of Dar es Salaam on a government sponsorship,” she says.
And soon after the win came the Miss World challenge which was held in the UK, one that she admits still brings nostalgic memories and probably this is where she made up her mind to go on with school.
“My friend and mentor Angellah Jasmine Kairuki who was recently named Minister of Minerals, made an effort to attend the event in London. We had a long history together because we were together at Zanaki Secondary School,” says Temu who is pursuing her PHD.
She adds: After the event, Angellah came to the backstage and held my hands firmly, and asked me to look in her eyes and she said ‘promise me that you will go back to school’.
After she had served her term she immediately went back to the University of Dar es Salaam and it was here that she caught the eyes of the then First Lady Mama Anna Mkapa.
“Through ‘Equal Opportunities For All’ foundation I was awarded a full scholarship to study in the US,” she says.
Walking away from the glamour that was associated with beauty queens at the moment was not easy, but she had to adjust to the basics to fit in her new surroundings.
“Being a daughter of police officer maybe helped me to adjust faster to lead the real life of who I was and to become a humble servant of people in the community.”
She swapped Dar for Arizona to pursue the very objective that made her enter the contest in the first place for she believed it was the key to unlocking her potential.
“I wanted to be one of the people changing societies given my humble upbringing in village. To me poverty is not just a word but an experience,” says Hoyce who was raise in a family of six daughters.
She adds: I wanted to keep my promise and my dreams. Angellah and I were friends and later a trusted mentor and we always believed that education was the foundation of anyone’s life.
Several years down the road she still holds the belief that Miss Tanzania platform can be a ticket to glory to both winners and losers if well handled. “If well planned and handled carefully as per the title’s requirement which is ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ it could be a ticket to glory and it could also be a ticket to ‘hell’ if mishandled or misinterpreted.”
According to her the bottom line is that the title has a lot to do with serving communities in various aspects as well as being goodwill ambassadors.
She believes that whoever joins the boot-camp is good enough to be a queen but she is also aware of the differences that exist in the then crop of beauty queens and today’s millennial queens.
“Individual behavior and attitude towards beauty are things you can’t avoid and control. A big difference comes in the tenure of each beauty queen; the devotion to the community, walking the talk of ‘beauty with purpose’.”
She adds: In terms of technology, there is more access to information today but surprisingly the Miss Tanzania organizers are yet to match the gap in the digital community.
She yawns for the glory days and she doesn’t mince words on some of the critical issues that she would change should the opportunity provide itself.
“First the selection of organizers in the regions, the preparations, selection of participants and to see the ‘beauty’ with purpose is being acceptable in the community at large.”
She says that the only way the pageant can regain its credibility is by participants and organisers sticking to the guidelines.
“We need the young blood to organize the events and more sponsors to support this. May be it is time for the Government to see the pageant through a different lens given its potential to market the country, therefore support with some funding.”
Today as a mother and a career woman she has some advice to pass on to young women who aspire to follow her path.
“Beauty pageanty should be a bridge to reach other heights. It should be ‘leaf’ which gives a good shadow when the sun is too hot. Dream big, focus, work hard, be humble to everyone, learn to listen more than talking, keep studying by acquiring various skills in your life, and learn to prioritize,” she says.
Even in her roles as UN communication specialist based in Dar es Salaam she says what has kept her going is remaining down to earth.
“I continue being myself. I live the real life. Keeping myself busy has automatically sent me to the ‘low profile room’.”