Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi’s message worth embracing

INSPIRING OTHERS: SA's Zozibini Tunzi takes her first walk as Miss Universe after winning the 2019 pageant at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US
INSPIRING OTHERS: SA's Zozibini Tunzi takes her first walk as Miss Universe after winning the 2019 pageant at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US
Image: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/REUTERS

“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.”

It was with these words that Miss SA 2019, Zozibini Tunzi, kicked off her reign as Miss Universe 2019 on Monday morning.

It is a big moment for the young woman born in Tsolo, but an even bigger moment for thousands of young girls who have looked to Tunzi as a rolemodel — for a myriad of reasons — since she was crowned Miss SA on Women’s Day.

Perhaps, more obvious, is the message she is sending out to the world that a dark-skinned woman who chooses to wear her natural hair short is beautiful and enough to compete on a global stage like Miss Universe — and walk away with the crown.

“I grew up in a world where women who look like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair was never considered to be beautiful.

“I think it is time that stops today,” she said on the Miss Universe stage.

But then, also, there was Tunzi’s commitment to joining the global fight against gender-based violence and throwing her weight behind the UN’s #heforshe solidarity campaign for the advancement of gender equality.

It is particularly with this in mind that her crowning could, perhaps, be seen as a bittersweet moment for SA.

Tunzi’s crowning comes as SA’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign comes to an end on Tuesday.

Despite the campaign’s good intentions, anyone who has kept abreast of news over the past few weeks will know that women and children continued to be victims of horrendous crime.

In this time, Limpopo student Precious Ramabulana was stabbed 52 times in her rented room.

Earlier in December, Kgaugelo Tshawane was burnt to death in her vehicle, allegedly by her boyfriend.

This past weekend, the bodies of Buyelwa Malila, 71, Asemahle Mtsorha, 16, and Athenkosi Zondi, 17, manacled with chains, were found floating in a river near Tsomo — about 200km from Tunzi’s hometown.

It is these types of attacks on women and children — and many more we may not even know about — that she is hoping to address.

South Africans have rallied behind Tunzi since she was first crowned Miss SA and celebrated her latest glittering achievement from the moment they awoke to the news on Monday morning.

Let us honour her by transferring that momentum to her cause and uniting in the fight against violence against women and children all year round.

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