Basetsana Kumalo. Picture: Simphiwe Caluza/African News Agency.

Basetsana Kumalo will always be remembered as the beautiful girl from Soweto who was crowned Miss South Africa in 1994, a competition her mother had entered her into. 

South-Africa was a country in transition and the significance of that moment is not lost on her. Overnight she became the ambassador of a country in its infancy. 

That in itself makes for great reading but "Bassie" as she is affectionately known to millions of South Africans has gone on to achieve greater things and she always felt the timing was always going to be very important.


Well, the time has arrived and she has finally penned her memoir "Bassie: My Journey of Hope". 

This no holds barred account of her life makes for compelling reading. No subject is taboo or off limits. 

The brutal honesty about how she was subjected to physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her ex-lover is one such example. 

With gender-based violence being so rife in South African society she felt it was important to highlight that it could happen to anyone, even someone as successful as she is.

It is not all doom and gloom though, she gives a candid account of her relationship with the late Nelson Mandela, who played a big part in her becoming who she is. 

She explores in detail her continuing relationship with his widow Graca Machel.

Kumalo gives context to her life in this autobiography. Her journey from beauty queen to mother, businesswoman, philanthropist and inspiration is well documented in her manuscript and through it allows us to better understand one of the most influential women in South Africa. 

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