The First Ugandan Miss Uganda Was A Mukiga

By DailyNewsUG Correspondent,

Miss Joy Lehai Kanyarutokye was the first Miss Uganda with both parents Ugandan. This was in 1968.

Miss Joy Lehai Kanyarutokye

She was the daughter of Dr. Norman Kanyarutokye from Kabale district.

Dr Norman Kanyarutokye was a pioneer Doctor who was among early practitioners of Western-style healthcare in Uganda.

In 1967 Ugandans set out on a quest to search for the Ugandan girl with the perfect balance of beauty and brains.

L-R: Uganda (Joy Lehai Kanyarutokye), Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana & Liberia

Interestingly the winner of the 1967 beauty pageant wasn’t of Ugandan ancestry, she was actually British! Miss Salmon as she was called had a British father!


She went on to compete in the miss world competitions of 1967 in her home country UK. At the time the country had just come out of colonial rule and the demons of white supremacy were alive and well.

In 1968, 22 year old Miss Joy Lehai Kanyarutokye, a charismatic well educated Mukiga girl from Kabale weighing 50kg and a proportionate body of 33-23-36 figure won over the hearts of all the judges becoming the first truly Ugandan girl to wear the miss Uganda crown.

Miss Joy Lehai Kanyarutokye

Joy was the firstborn of five siblings.

Given the absence of gyms, diet pills and beauty Magazines, this Sheila from Makerere University College was a true natural beauty.

Above: Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda (the 12th Girl top row), United Kingdom, USA, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. Center: Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guyana, Holland, India, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand and Nicaragua. Below: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France and Germany.

She went on to become so famous and to win numerous endorsement deals.

Joy was the grandmother of Sharon O formerly of the Obsessions dance group. 

Family Beauty: Joy was the grandmother of Sharon O formerly of the Obsessions dance group. 
Ronnie Mulindwa had better do something before I do 'a Rema'!”
Above: Sharon O, Grand Daughter to Joy

On October 28, 1968, at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala, Miss Kanyarutokye was crowned Miss Uganda.

She was a 22-year-old and a second-year student at Makerere University. She was 5ft 4iches tall and weighed 111 lbs.

she was the firstborn of five siblings. In November 1968, she represented Uganda at the Miss World beauty contest in London, Britain.

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On June 6, 1970, Kanyarutokye married Dr. Festo Higiro at All Saints Church Nakasero, Kampala. But their marriage did not last long – and they separated.

Because of her fame, she was referred to as the first miss Uganda by the people of her time.

She later represented Uganda in the Miss world competitions in London!

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