What you need to know:
- Anita Gitonga is the leading contestant and the reigning ‘Little Miss Universe Kenya 2020’.
- The contest has attracted other models from around the world.
Six Kenyan girls are all set to face the world in an international modelling competition to be held in Batumi, Georgia, in July this year.
Anita Gitonga (12), Zawadi Muthoni (7), Kimberly Nyambura (7), Quinn Njoki (10), Gillian Jepchirchir (7) and Precious Nyabonyi Silas (13) are competing in the finals of 'Little Miss and Mister Universe 2021'.
The contest has attracted other models from around the world.
Anita Gitonga is the leading contestant and the reigning ‘Little Miss Universe Kenya 2020’.
Anita is an inspiration to many and mostly his younger brother, Joshua Gitonga, who has also taken up modelling at the age of eight.
Their parents, Ricky and Martha Gitonga, are a happy couple following the achievements of their children at such a tender age.
"I am blessed to have the two. They have taken to modelling with a passion," said Ms Gitonga, their mother.
Anita, a Grade Five pupil at Briar Rose Junior School, Nairobi, was crowned 'Best Talent' and 'Best Cultural Wear' in the 'Little Miss Universe Kenya 2020' pageant held in Westlands, Nairobi, last December.
She has been modelling since 2017 and has participated in five pageants so far.
She was awarded the following titles: Little Miss Photo Model, 2017 (Little Miss Kenya), Mini Princess of Africa, 2018 (Little Prince and Princess of Africa) and Little Miss Africa (Prince and Princess International in Thailand, 2018).
She will be participating in the international Little Miss Universe pageant in Georgia.
Anita dreams big and believes she will be a source of inspiration to more girls in Kenya and the universe at large and help them break the glass ceiling.
"Real queens adjust each other's crowns. Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid," reads her favourite quote and her source of inspiration.
Besides the runway, she loves outdoor activities. As the titleholder of Little Miss Universe, she is engaging in wildlife conservation.
She is a volunteer at Nairobi National Park under Friends of Nairobi National Park (FoNNAp).
"I hope to be involved in initiatives that help resolve human-wildlife conflict because I also love people. I would love to be a commercial model, whose proceeds would go towards such initiatives," said Anita.
Her mother says she decided to enrol her in professional modelling after she showed interest in the field.
"She showed signs of modelling when she was six years old. While taking photos, she would pose like a model, she would pose with schoolmates and in front of a mirror. At age nine, I enrolled her in 'Top Kids International Modelling Academy in Nairobi," said Ms Gitonga.
Her brother Joshua is in Grade Two at Briar Rose Junior School in Nairobi. Joshua became 'Tiny Mr Kenya 2017' at age six.
Later, he got the 'Little Prince of Africa 2018'. He went on to get 'Junior Mr Africa 2018' and 'Mini Mr World Kenya 2019'.
Joshua, like his sister, believes he will one day break the glass ceiling as an international model and inspire more boys from Kenya and the world to pursue their dreams.
Source of inspiration
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
Discovering who you are today is the first step to being who you will be tomorrow," reads Joshua's favourite quote and his source of inspiration.
Anita is leaning towards art and creativity, ballet, swimming and playing the piano while Joshua loves science and soccer.
Their mother says the Covid-19 pandemic has helped her spend more time with them.
"The Covid-19 lockdown has helped us (their parents) to reflect further on their creativity and given us ample time to teach them virtues, beliefs, give them a sense of direction in life and increase their sense of responsibility at home," said Ms Gitonga.
She adds, "This is the only time they are not participating together because Joshua wanted to rest. But he is taking it up again."
Ms Jayne Okoth, the exclusive franchise holder of Little Miss universe Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania says the Covid-19 pandemic is a blessing in disguise and all that matters is how one chooses to utilise their time.
"Do not let anything change the relationship you have with your son or daughter. Communicate with them, let them know that no matter what, you will stand by them. Stay safe and be the Number One fan for your son or daughter first before the world applauds her or him," said Ms Okoth.
She explains that 'Little Miss Universe Kenya' held its first competition last year after they bought the Franchise.
"This means Kenya gets to be represented by our children to the outside world. Therefore, it is important for Kenya to show the rest of the world that not only are we good in marathons among other sports activities, we also have young girls and boys ready to lead and take up their space."
Lupita Nyong’o is my inspiration: Precious Nyabonyi Silas
A teenage girl from Nyamira County is all set to face the world in an international modelling competition to be held in Batumi, Georgia, in July.
Precious Nyabonyi Silas, 13, is competing in the finals for ‘Little Miss and Mister Universe 2021’ against models from around the world.
Nyabonyi will be among six models to represent Kenya in Georgia.
The Standard Seven pupil at Tala Primary School and her mother, Ms Ruth Osebe, are expected to be in Batumi, Georgia, for the contest scheduled for June 1, 2021, to June 6, 2021.
The Nation visited the family at their rural home in Matutu village, Nyamira County, as they continued with preparations for the big day and mobilised funds for their trip.
Nyabonyi and her mother said they took advantage of the time allowed by the Covid-19 lockdown to sharpen the teenager’s talent through digital technology.
Ms Osebe, who lives in Nairobi with her teenage daughter, explained that she noticed that Nyabonyi loved art and fashion and encouraged her to learn more through the internet.
“She concentrated on modelling and read extensively about international models. She would then practise what she learnt and ensure she met the required standards while walking and introducing herself,” said Ms Osebe.
Nyabonyi says she has learnt a lot from Lupita Nyong'o, the Kenyan-Mexican actress and daughter of Kisumu Governor Peter Anyang' Nyong'o and Dorothy Ogada Buyu.
“I have always admired people like Lupita. She is one of my role models and I pray to God I get to her level and beyond as I inspire more girls from my rural village, country and universe to break the glass ceiling,” said Nyabonyi.
Nyabonyi started training in 2019 and registered in 2020 at the Little Miss Africa Kenya, a modelling agency based in Nairobi.
There, she managed the ‘First Princess in Africa’ title in a competition held on November 14, 2020.
The award ceremony was held in Westlands, Nairobi. The final competition was to be held in Uganda in April 2021 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fashion and modelling
Nyabonyi also participated in the ‘Miss Valentine Kenya’ competition on February 14, 2021, and won the ‘Pretty Miss Valentine’ title.
The award ceremony was held in Mlolongo, Machakos.
She then enrolled for the ‘Little Miss and Mister Universe 2021’. The presentations for the competition were done in a Zoom call.
In this era of Covid-19, most organisations have avoided physical meetings and have embraced technology, hence turning to online meetings.
“We would record videos about different issues and present them to the directors of the competition. Judges would then be invited via Zoom to give their verdict on our presentations. The issues we participated in include catwalking and introduction, culture photos where we would dress traditionally and talent growth where I presented a poem,” said Nyabonyi.
She explained that everything was done online, including the awarding of marks by judges and online voting to gauge the suitability of individual models.
“It was the responsibility of parents or guardians and their children to see how best to execute the required issues. Like catwalking, we would Google to determine what suits us,” said Ms Osebe.
The competition’s mission is to bring kindness, beauty, positivity, tolerance; to find beauty not only in physical parameters but also in the soul, moral and personal qualities of each participant; to enable all guests, participants and fans of the contest to express themselves in the best way and recharge with positive emotions.
Ms Osebe, 36, a clerk at the office of the Registrar of Persons in Nairobi, says her experience with her daughter has opened her eyes to the outside world.
“I knew very little about fashion and modelling. But now with the need to support my daughter, I have learned a lot. Covid-19 has opened our eyes,” she said.
Nyabonyi, who is a model, singer, poet, dancer and actor is also a bright pupil in school and mostly emerges among the top five in her class of 60.
She loves English and science and aspires to be an international model and neurosurgeon.
“I am aspiring to be a cultural, peace, charity and anti-Covid-19 ambassador in my stay in Georgia,” she said.