Drum – 22 August 2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1

http://www.drum.co.za 22 AUGUST (^2019) | 13
This is part of who she is, she says, and
isn’t going to change for anyone.
“When I entered this time, the first
thing some of my friends asked me was
if I was going to wear a weave. But this is
my hair. It’s been this way for the past
two years and I plan to keep it this way.
“I came into this competition with my
natural hair as a symbol of my firm belief
in being yourself,” she adds. “When I
jumped off my flight to meet the first
group of finalists, I saw two girls – one
had a chiskop, one had dreadlocks.
“I thought I was going to be the strange
one, with my short, curly hair, but it
wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was cel-
ebrating who they were. That’s when I
knew this platform had changed – and
for the better. We’re called the rainbow
nation because of how different we are.”
OZI’S love for the stage start-
ed when she was a little girl.
She was just seven when she
took part in her first pageant
at a Methodist church in
Ts o l o.
Zozi says she was timid as a child but
venturing on stage allowed her to open
up and be herself. “When I say I was shy,
I don’t mean it in a cute way. I had no
friends, I didn’t want to play sport. I was
scared of people. Then there was a pag-
eant in church and my mom took me
there. That’s when I started making
friends and coming out of my shell.”
Her confidence grew and at Butter-
worth High School she joined the public-
speaking and debating teams.After
school she entered pageants andin 2013
she won the titles of Miss Cape Peninsu-
la University of Technology (CPUT)and
Miss Mamelodi Sundowns.
Her biggest supporters are herparents,
mom Philiswa, a school principalfrom
Idutywa in the Eastern Cape,anddad
Lungisa, who works for the departmentof
higher education and training inPretoria.
The pair split up in 2011 but wereright
by their daughter’s side at thepageant
along with Zozi’s sisters, Yanga(30),
Siba balwe (24) and Ayakha (13).
“I have no words. It’s unbelievable,”
Lungisa said backstage after hisdaugh-
ter’s crowning. “A rural boy likemehav-
ing a child as Miss SA... It’s so amazing.
We’ve been praying for this momentand
here it is.”
“It’s awesome,” Philiswa added.“I
thank God because we didn’t dothis
on our own. It’s by God’s grace.”
OT only has Zozi earned a
glittering title, but she’s also
R1 million richer and will
rake in a further R2m worth
of sponsorships and prizes,
including the use of a luxury
Sandton apartment and a Mercedes-
Benz cabriolet for a year.
“Funny thing is I now have a car but I
don’t have a driver’s licence yet so I defi-
nitely need to sort that out.”
She plans to put some of her winnings
towards paying her student debt. Before
the run-up to the pageant began, Zozi
was studying part-time towards a BTech
in public relations at CPUT while work-
ing as an intern at a PR firm.
Back in 2016 she was forced to drop
out of her undergrad PR studies after be-
ing financially excluded. She managed to
secure a bursary and completed her de-
gree – now her win means she can afford
to pay her debt.
Zozi is excited for the year ahead. She’s
especially looking forward to represent-
ing SA at the Miss Universe pageant later
this year.
“I feel blessed because my first time
abroad is going to be as Miss South Afri-
ca and that’s not something everyone
gets to say. It’s very special,” she says.
Her magical night may still be a bit of
a blur but Zozi is clear about one thing
right now : she plans to use her reign to
touch the lives of others.
“I always knew I had to find a way to
be a catalyst for positive change. Finally,
everything has come full circle and I find
myself ready to deliver on the promisesI
have been making since I was a child.”
She stayed in shape in the run-up to the
pageant to strut her stuff on the Miss
South Africa stage.
Zozi was onceagirl with a dream and now
ABOVE: Zozi has a degree in public

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