Monday, 9 December 2019

Who Is Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi?

1. She was an early favourite, but it was her powerful message of inclusivity that eventually clinched Zozibi Tunzi the Miss Universe crown at Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday night, becoming the third woman from South Africa to win the coveted title.


“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair was never considered to be beautiful, and I think it is time that that stops, today,” Tunzi said. “I want children to look at me and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.” The question posed to Tunzi and the two other finalists — Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Mexico — by host Steve Harvey was “What is the most important thing we should teach girls today?” “I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It is something that has been lacking in young girls and woman for a long time,” she said. “Not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labelled women to be. 

I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity. That is what we should be teaching these young girls. To take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned onstage by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (R, in blue) at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned onstage by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (R, in blue) at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
2: Who is Zizibini Tunzi? Tunzi was born in Tsolo, a town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, to a family of educators — her mother is a school principal and her father works at the Department of Higher Education and Training in Pretoria. She is the second of three girls. A Public Relations Officer, Tunzi is a graduate of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town.

3. The beauty pageant bug: Tunzi, 26, participated in the Miss South Africa pageant in 2017 and made it to the semi-finals. Not one to give up easily, she gave the pageant another shot this year, and won.

4. Celebrating blackness: Tunzi has been proudly wearing her colour and culture throughout her time in the beauty limelight. She is often seen showing off her natural hair, instead of wearing a wig or a weave. Her official headshot for the pageant stole the spotlight after her profile was added to the Miss Universe website earlier. Tunzi was the only contestant to cover her hair for the official headshot, according to the South African English daily The Sowetan, with a traditional head hear.

She has also hit back, with class, to people who had their reservations about a black beauty queen after winning Miss South Africa. “I just want to take a moment to dedicate a post to the unkind comments that I have been receiving about my blackness since my crowning. To comments that are aimed at all brown-skinned girls at some point in our lives.

Not because it hurts me or gets under my skin, but because I see an opportunity to educate and speak out on a serious issue,” she posted on Instagram. “Society has previously been programmed in such a way that there’s nothing beautiful about being black. I am going into Miss Universe with hopes to shatter whatever misconception and stereotypes people have of beauty. To whoever else thinks that black is not beautiful I cannot wait for you to experience the depth and magic of a black woman.”

5. An important message: Tunzi’ has been actively using her platform to talk about gender-based violence. Before the Miss Universe pageant, her campaign as Miss South Africa included partnering with the UN organisation HeForShe. Even her national costume, which received mixed reviews from online critics, had a message. Called The Wave of Love, the ensemble, designed by Llyod Kandlin, was embellished with ribbons in the colours of the national flag.

Each ribbon contains love letters from South Africans pledging their support to South African women in the fight against gender-based violence. “The campaign is intended for good and the positive feedback has been my main focus. I appreciate every single message of support,” Tunzi told The Sowetan before jetting off to Atlanta.

6. The pageant: Tunzi beat more than 90 contestants from around the globe in the 68th instalment of Miss Universe, which was held in Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios on Sunday night. The two favourites ahead of the competition, Miss Thailand Paweensuda Saetan-Drouin and Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados, did not make it to the final 10. The Philippines’ Catriona Gray, who presented Tunzi with the crown, took home the Miss Universe crown in 2018.

With her win Tunzi becomes the third beauty queen from South Africa to win the crown: The first was Margaret Gardiner in 1978 and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017. Tunzi is the first black South African to win the Miss Universe crown.

7. A Door Has Opened: Celebrating her incredible win, Tunzi did not mince her words when she spoke about what it means for someone like her to be crowned Miss Universe. “Tonight a door was opened, and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it,” she posted on Instagram shortly after her coronation. 

“May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine. I proudly state my name Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019!”
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned onstage by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (R, in blue) at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned onstage by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (R, in blue) at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned onstage by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (R, in blue) at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned onstage by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray (R, in blue) at the 2019 Miss Universe Pageant at Tyler Perry Studios on December 08, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

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