South Africa's Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe 2019 in a glittering pageant held in Atlanta on Sunday night. Miss Universe Puerto Rico Madison Anderson and Miss Universe Mexico Sofía Aragón were the first and second runners up respectively.
Quick facts about Zozibini Tunzi
- Zozibini Tunzi is the third person from South Africa to win the coveted title. The previous winners from South Africa were Margaret Gardine in 1978 and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in 2017.
- Zozibini Tunzi Tunzi is the second black woman to become Miss Universe after Leila Lopes from Angola took the title in 2011.
- Tunzi was born in the South African town of Tsolo. Tunzi, who has two sisters, was brought up in a village near Sidwadweni. Tunzi got her degree from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She majored in public relations and image management.
- Before setting out to contest the pageant, she had worked briefly as an intern in the public relations department of Ogilvy Cape Town.
- Tunzi, who first participated in the Miss South Africa pageant in 2017.
- Zozibini Tunzi addressed the question of color directly in her winning run for the Miss Universe crown. "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 that's time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine," she said.
Curtains were drawn on the mega event which saw the participation of 90 contestants' competition for the coveted crown. The contestants passed through swimsuit, evening gown and on-stage question rounds, before being reduced to the top five: Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Thailand, and South Africa. In the mega finale round, Thailand and Colombia were dropped.
The final answer that won the hearts of millions
The final question asked to the top three contestants was 'What is the most important thing you should be teaching young girls today?'
Clad in a striking gold and silver gown, Tunzi said that the most important thing which should be taught to the young girls today is 'leadership.'
"It's something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time, not because we don't want to, but because of what society has labeled women to be," she said.
"I think we are the most powerful beings on the world, and that we should be given every opportunity, and that is what we should be teaching these young girls, to take up space. Nothing is as important as taking up space in the society and cementing yourself."
'Women should love themselves the way they are'
Hailing from Tsolo in South Africa, the 26-year-old Tunzi has fought actively against gender-based violence. Described as a 'proud advocate for natural beauty and encourages women to love themselves the way they are' Tunzi while answering she was the right choice for the role of Miss Universe, said: "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. I think it is time that that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine."
The national costume was a love letter from SA men to women
During her role as Miss South Africa, Tunzi joined hands with 'HeForShe', a UN organization encouraging men to fight alongside women for gender equality.
Tunzi wore a national costume which had printed ribbons carrying messages from South African men to support women. Earlier, in a tweet, Tunzi wrote: "I am asking men to write love letters to the women of South Africa. Those letters will be inscribed onto ribbons of fabric that will be used to form a part of my national costume. So in essence, I will be wearing a love letter from SA men to Women."
The PR graduate shares a close bond with parents
On the day of the pageant, the newly crowned Miss Universe had thanked her parents on social media. Posting a series of pictures of her parents Philiswa Nadapu and Lungisa Tunzi, she wrote: "I am because you are. You've given me life, you've raised me to be the woman I am so that I can stand in a far away land proudly knowing where I'm rooted and where I come from.
"You've sacrificed so much and fought battles I don't even know about, everything so that we could have all the opportunities the Universe has to offer. I am forever grateful and hope to make you proud, every single day of my life! Ndiyabulela, kwaye ndinithanda ngentliziyo yam yonke.❤️"