Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019. Photo credit: Zozibini Tunzi/Instagram
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Zozibini Tunzi crowned Miss Universe South Africa’s third win at the pageant

South Africa is on a roll with 26-year-old Zozibini Tunzi becoming the third South African overall to wear the prestigious Miss Universe crown. In the last five years the country has clinched the title twice after Angola’s win in 2011 and Botswana’s in 1999.

Not many African countries have claimed the Miss Universe title since the pageant started in 1952. In fact, throughout its history a total of four African countries have been title holders; South Africa (1978, 2017 and 2019) Namibia (1992), Botswana (1999) and Angola (2011).

Although South Africa has featured the most, this is the first time a dark-skinned queen has clinched the title. 26-year-old Zozibini Tunzi became 2019’s Miss Universe when she was not only chosen as the first contestant to progress to the top 20 but went on to beat Miss Mexico and Miss Puerto Rico in the final round.

Tunzi used the platform to speak about inclusivity and the need for representation saying, “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 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 pageant website details that Tunzi is a passionate activist engaged in the fight against gender-based violence. She has devoted her social media campaigns to changing the narrative around gender stereotypes. She is also a proud advocate for natural beauty and encourages women to love themselves the way they are.

When asked what the most important lesson is for young girls today, she told host Steve Harvey: “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. Not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labelled women to be.”

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“I think we are the most powerful beings on 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.”

This year’s crown was called the “Power of Unity,” according to a video from Mouawad Jewellery. The 18-karat gold crown has 1,770 diamonds and includes a golden centre piece stone weighing 62.83 carats, according to Rappler. The golden centre matched perfectly with Tunzi’s dress which was quite a serendipitous twist.

The floral design of the crown is meant to represent unity among women from all the seven continents, while the crown as a whole was inspired by “nature, strength, beauty, femininity, and unity,” according to the video.

The massive competition that was hosted at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta also saw its first openly gay contestant in Miss Myanmar, Swe Zin Htet.

 

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