All this year’s finalists have the qualities to be great leaders and ambassadors for our country in their own ways.
“As a pageant that hopes to evolve and uplift the status of pageantry in South Africa, Miss South Africa is not only about crowning the overall winner, but also about celebrating some of the phenomenal young women of this country,” says Miss SA judge and magazine editor Kojo Baffoe.
Television student and 2014 Miss SA First Princess Ziphozakhe Zokufa wants to use everything she has learned on the Miss SA journey to encourage other young women to use the opportunities available to them, which is what she did when she decided to enter the pageant.
“I love grabbing opportunities that come my way and the ability to inspire the youth of South Africa and the country as a whole has always been something I have strived for,” Zokufa says.
Her advice is: “If I can achieve something, so can you. No matter who you are, do what you can with what you have, and make the most of it.”
Journalism graduate Tidimalo Sehlako hopes to use her career to shed light on some of the issues faced by women every day, noting that only a woman and can understand the challenges of being a woman.
“We should not be desensitised towards the struggles faced by our South African sisters. One woman’s happiness should be another woman’s joy,” Sehlako says.
Referencing a famous quote by poet Anasuya Sengupta, pageant judge Anele Mdoda said: “Too many women in too many countries speak the language of silence. How do you think this can be changed?” to which Sehlako answered: “I believe change and empowerment work together. As women, it’s important for us to be empowered to take charge of our own destinies.”
All the finalists had one thing in common this year – they want to use their education to improve the lives of others. As a qualified life coach who also studied metaphysicfocus tos, Caylene Marais believes its important to develop a different approach to charity work.
“Many of our youth have the basics to survive, and there are many charities that provide these basics, but so many neglect to acknowledge that emotional starvation is more severe than anything else.
“Above that, people need not only receive food, water, and shelter, they also need an an opportunity to grow and change their environment.
“I think it’s important to empower South Africans with emotional, spiritual and mental tools to enable them to rise above their circumstances and grow into successful citizens and content human beings,” she says.
Bubbly Abigail de Jager walked away with a title handed to her by her fellow finalists – Miss Congeniality. “She is the contestant who is the most fun to have around,” host Elana Afrika said.
De Jager’s message to other young women was: “Stay true to who you are and what you believe in. I believe that people should never compromise their values in order to fit or for acceptance.”
While all the women will be working hard to achieve their goals after the pageant, it is newly crowned Miss South Africa’s journey that will be watched by all South Africans. Rolene Strauss, a medical student from Bloemfontein, has one mission – health for all.
“Miss South Africa is all about giving. One of the greatest gifts anyone can receive is the gift of a healthy life. With my passion for giving, people and health, I will be able to contribute to one of the most important things any country desires – health,” she says.
During her reign, Strauss hopes to be a facilitator between those who are in need and those who have the ability to give.
“As women, we have soft and sympathetic souls. We are the ones who give hope, love and comfort. Let us use those qualities,” she says.