Princess Faith Rukidi of Bunyoro
"I would love to hear from other respectful modeling companies."
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First published: August 1, 2007
It is not everyday that you get to hear about Bunyoro princesses. When it comes to Uganda, it is mostly the Toro and Buganda kingdom royals who get the limelight. However, UGPulse got the rare opportunity to interview Uganda-born, UK-resident, Princess Faith Rukidi of Bunyoro. The beautiful Princess is the great grand daughter of the Late King Tito Winyi, granddaughter of his older son Prince John Rukidi, and daughter of Prince John Rukidi's first born. Her mother is a Muganda.
According to wikipedia, Bunyoro-Kitara is a central African kingdom. The kingdom lasted as an independent state from the 16th to the 19th century. Although no longer the ruler of a state, the Omukama (king) of Bunyoro remains an important figure in Ugandan politics, especially among the Banyoro people of whom he is the titular head. Bunyoro is a region of western Uganda, and from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century was one of the most powerful kingdoms of East Africa. It was ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro. The current ruler, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, is the 27th Omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara and the uncle of Princess Faith Rwiza Rukidi.
Princess Faith Rukidi.
Princess Faith Rukidi was born in Uganda and grew up in different countries which include Uganda, Germany and the United Kingdom. Unlike many Ugandan royals, she is multilingual and speaks German, English, Luganda and Runyoro. Not surprisingly, among many things, the stunning princess is a model. She is the face of La Maison D'Issey, a UK-based fashion house belonging to Judith Banya. It sells wedding clothes, evening wear and traditional clothes. The princess also has a creative streak; she is a part time graphics designer and dabbles in visual arts. Princess Rukidi, whose modern, elegant dress code mirrors one of her role models, Queen Nagginda, is an icon to watch.
As a future cultural leader, Princess Faith Rukidi aims to encourage and empower African women. One of her plans is to push for the education of young girls. She also aims to help in restoring the former glory of her kingdom Bunyoro, and bring it back to the forefront as a cultural icon in Uganda. Propelling Uganda in the limelight in a positive way is another of her goals. But with her beauty, brains, elegance and poise, who knows if she will follow in Princess Bagaya of Toro's steps and gain international fame as a model, actress and spokesperson for Uganda? Time will certainly tell.
Princess Elizabeth Bagaya of Toro.
Jane: Tell us more about your parents and your heritage...
Princess Faith Rukidi: I am in my 20's and was born in Namirembe in Kampala, Uganda. My father is a Munyoro prince and my mother is a Muganda. I remember that when I was born, my parents loved me very much. My mother operated a saloon business and my father worked as a soldier. My mother was a calm humble lady, although she had strong business skills. My father was very authoritative and he had higher expectations of us compared to our peers. Having served in the military, he operated our household like a commander. He was excessively strict, I suppose from his military training. It was beneficial in hindsight, but it was a strain on the family and as a result, my parents separated. Unfortunately, they were not compatible and so they split when I was still a child.
Princess Faith Rukidi.
I suppose my life was always filled with drama. My parents both wanted to keep me. I remember once when my dad took me to his sister's house while mum was at work. She came home to an empty house and found out from the housekeeper where I had been taken. She made a plot to send her younger sister to ask for me from dad's sister to go for a photo shoot. My dad's family never saw me a gain until mum felt comfortable enough to take me to my grandmother's for a sleepover.
Interesting... Tell us more about how you were raised.
I was raised by different people. For example my Aunt Victoria looked after me when my mum went to work. It worked out since she loves children very much. My grandma Jessica Ateenyi cared for me too in order to teach me the Runyoro language and culture. I grew up in boarding schools, which I did not like at the time. However, now that I am a grown woman, I see the value I was being taught.
You are a young woman of mixed heritage. As you mentioned, your mother is a Muganda and your father is a Munyoro. You grew up predominantly in Uganda, Germany and United Kingdom. What was it like to grow up in all those countries?
Growing up in different countries was amazing. The first country I grew up in was Germany; in a city called Bonn. I only spoke German and I attended nursery there. After a few years mum wanted me to see a different way of living so she took me to her younger sister in the UK. There, I got to meet my cousins and learn English because I knew only that one language - German. My aunt and cousins found it difficult to speak to me because of the language barrier so I attended a school were I learned English in no time.
Did you ever go to schools in UG? Have you ever been to UG?
Well, I later travelled to Africa, Uganda, where I was taken to Kitante Primary School. Studying there was the hardest challenge I have ever gone through. The education standards were so high and I found out that I was not like all the other kids from the school. I was a young traveller and an unsettled child and because of that, it was hard to settle in easily. I was always the odd girl out.
Kitante Day Primary School was the first school I attended but I had so much trouble settling in because I was used to life in England and Germany. So, I changed schools and went to Nsuube Girls Boarding Primary School where I learned the Luganda language, how to use a hoe in the garden, peel raw food like cassava, sweet potatoes and yams. I also learned to pray with the rosary because this was a strict Catholic school. My mother figured that a boarding school would be better for me as I would learn to be independent and also learn values and easily integrate into Ugandan society that way.
So what are your links to the Bunyoro Kingdom?
The Late King Tito Winyi was my great grand father and his older son Prince John Rukidi is my grandfather. His first-born is my father. Having not grown up close to my dad, a faded father-daughter bond is what we share. I am closer to my mother but I do keep in contact with my dad. I have grown up being closer to the relatives on my mother's side at the expense of my dad's. I had the memorable chance to meet my granddad, Prince John Rukidi, before he passed away in 2003 during his visit to London.
Because I do not live in Uganda, I haven't actively interacted with the Baganda and Toro royals on a large scale but I know we are linked somehow and I look forward to having more interactions in that aspect. I do keep abreast of what is going on with the other royals in Uganda and I look up to Queen Nagginda of Buganda, Princess Bagaya of Toro as well as Queen Best, the mother of King Oyo of Toro, who are excellent examples of how royals should behave. On a side note, I am learning the royal dance called amakondere. All Banyoro royals, especially princesses must know the dance.
Princess Rukidi, you are an ambassador for your Kingdom, can you tell us more about it, especially for those readers who may not be familiar with the Bunyoro kingdom?
Of course, I can. It is my pleasure. I am proud of where I come from! Well here is some brief knowledge of the Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom and what districts it is made of. The Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara is the remainder of the once powerful empire of Kitara. At the height of its glory, the empire included present day Masindi, Hoima, Kibaale, Kabarole and Kasese districts. The empire controlled parts of present day Western Kenya, Northern Tanzania and Eastern Congo. That Bunyoro-Kitara is only a skeleton of what it used to be is an absolute truth to which history can testify. Uganda's 44th Independence Day was celebrated in a traditional way in Bunyoro. Recently, Radio Kitara and Bunyoro Kingdom organized a cultural Gala with the aim of promoting cultural values in the kingdom.
Are there any feuds between the Bunyoro royals?
I hear of them but I know too little and I would not want to involve myself in them.
What are the perks of being a Munyoro Princess?
Well I am still learning my role as a Munyoro princess. Among many things, I must hold myself with dignity, grace and beauty and aspire to be someone that other young females can look up to. Knowing Runyoro, my mother tongue is also important. Because the Bunyoro Kingdom was inactive for several years, there was a bit of a disconnection as far as our roles go. Nevertheless, I look forward to taking on my roles and being one of the official spokespersons for the kingdom. I am a very down to earth person and I feel very proud of being a Ugandan Munyoro Princess who has grown up to become the beautiful flower that I am. As Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, and the source of the Nile, I am a one in a million.
I am not sure if you are aware of the fascination with royals in the west. Now, being an African princess and a beautiful woman as well, how would you handle suddenly being in the limelight internationally?
I would embrace it. I am aware that people around the world especially in America love royalty. The film Coming to America defines that. However, I am ready for any opportunities that come to me because of my heritage. I shall make sure that I represent Banyoro and Ugandans in the best way possible. As I mentioned, I am lucky that I have had someone like Princess Bagaya of Toro to pave the way for me. She holds herself with so much grace and elegance.
How is your modelling career going?
Princess Faith Rukidi.
Modelling is my number one focus alongside studying. Unfortunately, along the way I met the wrong people in the modeling business who tried to take advantage of my interests in the fashion business so I am very cautious now. I am still interested but I am focusing more on my studies, which is also a positive and productive way of life as a young black woman. I used to model for a private individual who wanted to advertise his urban clothing. I also model for Maison D'Issey. My role is to advertise traditional wear, which I love because it helps me to keep my rich culture close. I advertise the Kiganda gear called the busuuti and the Ankole traditional wear called the umushanana.
Regarding the modelling, its part of my path but I am now much more careful about whom I work with and the type of modelling am involved in. However, I would love to hear from other respectful modeling companies.
Doesn't modelling conflict with you belonging to a royal family?
No not at all! Look at the example of Princess Bagaya of Toro. She was a model among many things and is a respected woman and a good role model. But I am very down-to-earth. I take myself like any other person on earth and I have not heard any complaints from my family at all. Maybe it would have been a different case if I were not living in these modern times but for now, there are no conflicts.
What do you think of the representation of black women's beauty in the media? Is there a fair representation?
I think we are yet to get there but so far so good. In places like Hollywood for example, black women's beauty is noticed through their careers and hard work. Here are some of the black women I admire Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Kerry Washington, Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson.
Jennifer Hudson wins an Oscar for her role in DreamGirls.
In your view, how would you define beauty?
It is inner kindness and respect for yourself and others. In addition, being God fearing is beauty to me. It is not about physical beauty but the inner beauty a person carries with them wherever they go and whomever they meet in this day and life.
We are celebrating African Women's Week. What does being an African woman mean to you?
I am proud of being an African woman because I have cultural values like all African women and we have a very rich history. For example, I come from a line of about 27 kings. That is my ancestry. Those kings all had strong, intelligent women by their sides. African Women's Week reminds me that as a princess who can potentially be in the public eye, I have to work hard to achieve my goals in life and show a positive aspect to fellow African young women, keeping them encouraged that with hard work and effort it is possible to make it in this day and life.
What do you think of the women empowerment movement in Uganda?
It is great. It has been active for a long time and I hope it lasts. There are many admirable Ugandan female achievers like Sylvia Owori, Santa Anzo, Queen Nagginda, Princess Bagaya, Specioza Kazibwe, Dorcas Inzikuru and even yourself Jane.
Thank you. What is your actual profession?
I am a student and part time graphics designer. I deal with individuals seeking a graphical aspect, designing CD covers, leaflets and invitation cards or even business cards. Besides that, I love to paint portraits. Graphics design is a hobby and a passion.
What music are you listening to now?
Ugandan music, RnB and gospel music.
If you could invite five people that you admire, dead or alive, who would they be?
My mother, my late Grandmother (mum's mother), late Aunt Ann, Jessica Alba, Vivica.A.Fox.
Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years time?
I will definitely be a role model for most young African women, in the entertainment business, getting lucrative modelling contracts, a spokesperson for Bunyoro and Uganda, a strong businesswoman or company owner and living in Uganda - my motherland.
Ok, the guys will want to know the last question. Are you single?
Princess Faith Rukidi.
(Smiles) I am taken. I am not single at all.
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First published: August 1, 2007
Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.
She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.