Miss South Africa takes home the Lebanese-designed Miss Universe 2019 crown

Zozibini Tunzi is the first black woman hailing from South Africa to ever win the prestigious title. AFP
Updated 09 December 2019

Miss South Africa takes home the Lebanese-designed Miss Universe 2019 crown

  • Zozibini Tunzi won the Miss Universe 2019 competition in Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios on Dec. 8
  • She beat out 89 other hopeful contestants at the televised ceremony hosted by television presenter Steve Harvey to take home the crown

DUBAI: Congratulations are in order for South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi who won the Miss Universe 2019 competition in Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios on Dec. 8.

The newly-minted Miss Universe beat out 89 other hopeful contestants, including Miss Egypt Diana Hamed, at the televised ceremony hosted by television presenter Steve Harvey to claim the crown at the annual beauty pageant, simultaneously making history as the first black woman hailing from South Africa to ever win the prestigious title. Additionally, she is also the first black woman to claim the title since Angola’s Leila Lopes who took home the crown in 2011.

The ecstatic 26-year-old was crowned by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who hails from The Philippines. Miss Puerto Rico, Madison Anderson was the first runner-up, followed by Miss Mexico, Sofia Aragon who was the second runner-up.




The ecstatic 26-year-old was crowned by Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who hails from The Philippines. AFP

Shortly after she was announced as the winner, Tunzi was presented with the Miss Universe sash and a striking diamond-encrusted crown from Lebanese jewelry house Mouawad — the jeweler behind the iconic Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bras — which was tasked with creating this year’s diadem. Entitled “the power of unity,” the stunning 18-karat gold crown set with 1,770 diamonds sat beautifully atop the newly-minted Miss Universe’s textured buzz cut.

“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,” shared Tunzi in her closing statement, adding “And I think that it is time that it stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want to see their faces reflected in mine.”

Tunzi is the third South African to win Miss Universe and the second in three years, following in the footsteps of Miss Universe 2017 Demi Leigh Nel-Peters, who hails from Sedgefield. She joins Margaret Gardiner, who was the first South African to claim the title in 1978.




“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,” shared Tunzi in her closing statement. AFP

The beauty queen, who was born in Tsolo, Eastern Cape, is a holder of a bachelor's degree in public relations and image management from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. An activist and humanitarian, Tunzi also petitions against gender-based violence through the "HeForShe" campaign in partnership with the South African arm of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality, which aims to tackle the alarming rates of femicide and gender-based violence in the country.

As the winner of the 2019 Miss Universe title, she will receive a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, which will see her travel overseas to perform charity work and raise awareness for diseases and education.

She will also receive room and board in a luxury apartment in New York City plus cash allowance for her entire reign, a New York Film Academy scholarship, a modeling portfolio with WME IMG, which happens to be the Miss Universe parent organization, a year supply of beauty products, a custom-styled new wardrobe and healthcare, as well as invitations to events such as fashion shows, movie premieres and opening galas throughout New York.


What We Are Reading Today: Race Is About Politics Jean-Frederic Schaub

Updated 21 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Race Is About Politics Jean-Frederic Schaub

  • Schaub argues that to understand racism we must look at historical episodes of collective discrimination

Racial divisions have returned to the forefront of politics in the US and European societies, making it more important than ever to understand race and racism. 

But do we? In this original and provocative book, acclaimed historian Jean-Frédéric Schaub shows that we don’t— and that we need to rethink the widespread assumption that racism is essentially a modern form of discrimination based on skin color and other visible differences.

On the contrary, Schaub argues that to understand racism we must look at historical episodes of collective discrimination. Built around notions of identity and otherness, race is above all a political tool that must be understood in the context of its historical origins.

Although scholars agree that races don’t exist, they disagree about when these ideologies emerged. Drawing on historical research from the early modern period to today, Schaub makes the case that the key turning point in the political history of race in the West occurred not with the Atlantic slave trade and American slavery, as many historians have argued, but much earlier, in 15th-century Spain and Portugal, with the racialization of Christians of Jewish and Muslim origin.