Nana Meriwether walks in the swimsuit competition during the 2012 Miss USA pageant on June 3 in Las Vegas. Photo: AP

NANA Meriwether has made history – this week she became the first African American with South African roots to be crowned Miss USA.

This was after 20-year-old Boston University student Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe out of 88 other beauty queens from six continents at the Planet Hollywood casino in Las Vegas.

This means that 27-year-old Meriwether, who won Miss Maryland in October last year and was crowned as Culpo’s first princess at the Miss USA pageant in June, will now take over from Culpo.

Meriwether’s mother, Nomvimbi, was born in Soweto, and in 1979 she received a scholarship from the UN and went to do post-graduate studies in the US. When she was on the verge of returning home, she met an American doctor and they married.

They returned to the country and began working at a missionary hospital near the Kruger National Park.

And while Meriwether is an all-American girl – tall, skinny, with a drawling accent – her family still has deeply entrenched roots in the country as her grandparents, Ephraim and Elsie Kumalo, still live in Diepkloof Extension, and she still visits them regularly.

Her mother could barely contain her excitement yesterday, saying: “We haven’t slept. We’ve been dancing and celebrating all night. She’s so excited, we’re all so excited.”

Meanwhile, Meriwether’s supporters took to Facebook to congratulate her.

Elie Cane said in a post: “Also Congratz to the gorgeous Nana Meriwether for becoming Miss USA 2012. She is the example to never give up on your dream, they have a way of sneaking up on you!!!”

Patti Stinnett posted: “Congratulations on your new venture… Miss USA… as a Marylander, I love it!!!” - The Star