At only 18 years, Dorah Mwima was crowned Miss Uganda in 2008; making her the youngest beauty queen ever in the country. Mwima had just returned to Uganda from Kenya where her family had lived for over fourteen years. In fact, it was just two weeks back home, when she saw the call for contestants for the Miss Uganda beauty pageant and chose to go for it. She had contested in several beauty contests in Kenya without success. She says she was always dropped for being a foreigner.
During the Miss Uganda boot camp, the contestants were taken through what the crown meant and what was expected of a beauty queen. Mwima, however, chose to live her normal life after all it was just a short time of fame.
“I kept the same friends, did housework, and did the same housework at home,” she says.
During her reign, she started the Dorah Mwima Foundation as a platform to share experiences with children and single mothers on the challenges in life. And three months to handing over the crown, news broke that she was pregnant. It also came with challenges of being a single mother because the relationship between her and her son’s father didn’t work out.
The beauty queen says she had several options among which could be terminating the pregnancy to keep up the fame and pretend to be the girl that everyone wants to look up to but she chose to keep the baby.
“I had disappointed myself and parents because they expected a lot more but I got through it and surprisingly there was no negative media,” she says.
Today, Mwima through her foundation holds celebrity matches in games like soccer played at a cost with the proceedings channeled to helping pregnant mothers in rural areas who cannot reach hospitals in time to deliver.
While pregnant, Mwima chanced on a job at Darling Hair Collection Uganda, and a few months after the birth of her baby, Nader Barrak who would become Mwima’s husband was posted to Uganda as General Manager of the company. Mwima was then working as executive secretary and one of her roles was to take care of guests; a job she did perfectly for Barrak.
When their relationship intensified, Mwima chose to sacrifice the job and resigned in 2013. The couple married in December 2013 in a civil ceremony and in 2014 had a church wedding. They have three children together including twins.
Mwima is the third born of the four children of Benjamin and Imelda Mwima. She says growing up in a Christian family of pastor parents made her a very spiritual and positive person.
She became Miss Uganda at an age when most Ugandans have not yet completed university education. But she and her siblings had gone through the home schooling system under the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE).
As a quick learner, Mwima was already doing the College handworks by age 16 and by Uganda’s adult age, she was good to start working.
“Home schooling was even stranger then because no one used to do it and people used to visit home and question why we didn’t go to school but my parents would explain,” she says.
Mwima has no regrets for going through the home schooling system. She is in fact grateful for how the system allows parents to know their children’s passion and, therefore, help them push for it.