Elijah Hontop: the youthful brainchild of Miss Naath South Sudan
Modelling is not just an art but is also a divisive career. Most parents get nervous when bombarded by the advances of their children who express interest in the career.
To understand the unknown particulars of this profession, The City Review reporter Boka Jr caught up with Elijah Hontop— the young South Sudanese entrepreneur and Co-founder of Miss Naath South Sudan beauty initiative— who explained the little known facts about the industry.
Boka Jr: It is a pleasure to have you in this interview with The City Review. Can you introduce yourself?
Elijah Hontop: Thanks for welcoming me. I am Truth Manna aka-The Son of South Sudan. I am the Co-founder of Miss Naath South Sudan as well Miss Independence South Sudan respectively. I work with different pageantries. I have degrees in Computer Science and Law.
Boka Jr: Well, what is Miss Naath South Sudan?
Elijah Hontop: Miss Naath South Sudan is a beauty pageant meant to empower young Naath (Nuer women or girls) with untapped talents of leadership and modelling. Miss Naath South Sudan aims to unite South Sudanese to live in love, unity, and harmony. Miss Naath Queen is also capable of becoming a goodwill ambassador at the National and International stages.
Boka Jr: What does the Naath mean, is it an English word?
Elijah Hontop: The word Naath is in the Nuer dialect and it is a plural noun for Nuer just like Jieng for Dinka. We name the beauty initiative to bring Naath people together to see their diverse beauty and culture.
Boka Jr: As a beauty promoting initiative, what qualities are considered for the contestants?
Elijah Hontop: We don’t have a limit, we believe everyone is created beautiful in a unique way, so we allow those who are willing to come and showcase on the stage and people have to choose who the Queen is. Simply we have Do’s and Don’ts which guide them.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
2. Find and listen to your mentors
3. Believe in yourself
4. Have a support network
5. Walk like a Queen
1. Tardiness to your rehearsals
2. Going it alone without a mentor
3. Being unsure of yourself
4. Being judgmental of your other contestants
5. Poor presentation on your platform
Boka Jr: Please walk us through your journey especially how you started. When was your first event and how was it?
Elijah Hontop: The first edition was done in Kampala, Uganda, on Friday, December 6, 2019. It was amazing. Though we were new in the business without enough funds we managed to carry it out. Then the second edition was conducted in Juba on October 30, 2020.
BOKA Jr. What about this year’s show, how was it?
Elijah Hontop: This year’s edition took place on October 29, 2021, at Freedom Hall, which brought masses of people together. I could not believe it until when fans of beauty and modelling turned out.
Boka Jr: What kinds of awards are given to the winners, for example in your past contests?
Elijah Hontop: In our very first contest in Kampala we gave only 100$ to the Queen for motivation and last year it was $1000. This year 2021, was progressing very well, the award is a new car.
Boka Jr: How do South Sudanese view the modelling according to their experiences?
Elijah Hontop: Our people have wrong conceptions about pageantry. They think anyone who participates in modelling is considered spoilt and they use abusive words against them like a bitch or gay if he is a man.
Boka Jr: So, how do you encourage other young aspiring girls not to give up?
Elijah Hontop: Our parents get encouraged when the results are positive like the one who won Miss Naath’s title recently, she was facing a lot in her family but now they believe in her. So, those with passion should not give up, if they realise their beauty and want to explore and show it; they should not fear anything. One time when they make it successfully everyone will be proud of them.
Boka Jr: Aside from the misconceptions attached to modelling, what are the most difficult challenges you experienced as the co-founder?
Elijah Hontop: The challenges I have faced include the hate speech from the audiences when their favourite contestant has not won, they always say the event is corrupted but that doesn’t let me and my team give up on the good work. It is always said: experience is what you get when didn’t get what you want.
Boka Jr., Which age bracket do you target with this initiative?
Elijah Hontop: Pageantry is for the youth of 18-32 years. It is encouraging and empowers youth to get opportunities to improve their lives.
Boka Jr: What is done for other contestants who do not make it to finals?
Elijah Hontop: As I said before that, “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want so, I encourage them to come back next time.
Boka Jr: For this event, could you estimate the number of the audience at Freedom Hall?
Elijah Hontop: People like modelling a lot, so when they hear there is a beauty show they come out to support it. I am sure people who attended the show at Freedom Hall were many, approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people because the number was too huge.
Boka Jr: Finally what’s your message as a young graduate and CEO of Miss Naath South Sudan to the fellow youth especially those who like modelling.
Elijah Hontop: I would like to encourage the youths not to give up on dreams and talents because of community hate speeches against what your desire. Education is not only the key to success but hard work also make you succeed.
BOKA Jr: Thank you!