Johannesburg - Anarzade Omar could have easily given up on her dream of being crowned Miss SA after she failed to make it past the top 30 in two previous attempts at the prestigious beauty competition.
But this year, the Johannesburg-born beauty’s persistence finally paid off when this week she was announced as one of the Miss SA 2022 Top 10 finalists.
“Miss SA has always been a dream, and through this platform is where I want to share my voice,” Omar told “The Saturday Star” this week.
“The third time has been different in a way that I am more mature and focused and I fully understand what is expected on this platform and I have come better prepared.”
The 23-year-old from Crown Gardens in the south of Johannesburg works as a social media manager at a digital marketing agency since graduating with a BA in Strategic Communication in Marketing from the University of Johannesburg.
And if Omar is crowned Miss SA, she plans to prove that she is not just a pretty face and is determined to make a difference during her reign, something she believes she is already qualified to do.
“I want to champion digital literacy and help bridge the digital divide in our youth, and I know this title will allow me to do that and much more.
“I decided to enter Miss South Africa because I know how powerful this organisation is and how life-changing it has been to the women who came before me.”
Apart from her day job, the Johannesburg beauty also runs a small online sushi business, something she started during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Omar is proud to be a female entrepreneur and wants to inspire others to also follow their dreams and passions.
“My sushi business started as a passion project and continues to be something I enjoy doing in my mom’s kitchen for people who love celebrating with my sushi,” she said.
“Being a business woman allows us to be more independent and allows for more growth and opportunities.”
Meanwhile, fellow Johannesburg Miss SA 2022 finalist Itumeleng Parage is hoping to make her community of Central Western Jabavu in Soweto proud as she vies for the coveted crown.
“I was born and bred in Soweto and it’s a place that has shaped me in so many ways,” Parage told the “Saturday Star”.
“‘For my community, it means that I can bring our stories to the table and highlight some of our victories, because although it’s a township, so much greatness has come out of it, and it’s worth sharing with the rest of the country.”
The 22-year-old said being crowned the Miss SA winner would be the fulfilment of a life-long dream.
“This dream has been on my vision board for two years now, and much longer in my heart, so to have it come to life would really be affirming.”
Parage is a Bachelor of Law student with a BA (law major) degree from Wits University.
If crowned Miss SA 2022, she is determined to improve access to tertiary education for the country’s disadvantaged youngsters, something that has been highlighted as the nation commemorated Youth Day this week.
“A large number of learners from disadvantaged parts of the country do not reach tertiary education, but that is not a true reflection of the academic potential they have,'' she said.
“This is a problem because it widens the inequality gap, and I know that improving access to tertiary education for the disadvantaged youth will enable them to compete fairly in the job market and eradicate poverty in their homes and communities.
“‘So during my reign, I want to achieve the highest number of tertiary applications from townships and rural areas and expose them to different funding opportunities.”
Parage admitted that she too required assistance for her own tertiary education.
“I had someone hold my hand and help me through this process, so I know that there is a need and how life changing it can be for one to just get helped to get in,” she said.
“I would like to be remembered for the impact I would have made in helping learners from destitute parts of the country.”
Parage and Omar are two of four Miss SA 2022 finalists from Gauteng. The others are Lebogang Mahlangu and Pearl Ntshehi from Tshwane.
The group is joined by Ayanda Thabethe, Keaoleboga Nkashe, Luvé Meyer, Luyanda Zuma, Ndavi Nokeri, and Tamsyn Jack who represent KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Province, Limpopo and North West.
This year’s Top 10 judges are radio presenter and personality and Miss South Africa 2015 Liesl Laurie, body positive activist Tracey-Lee Lusty Horwitz, Dentsu CEO Koo Govender, fashion designer Khosi Nkosi, True Love editor-in-chief Makhosazana Zwane-Siguqa, actor Simoné Nortmann, and actor and TV personality Thando Thabethe.
The Miss SA 2022 ceremony is set to return to Gauteng as the winner will be crowned at Sun International’s flagship venue, the SunBet Arena at Time Square, Pretoria.
The event will take place on August 13, during Women's Month and will be broadcast live on DStv’s M-Net and Mzansi Magic, and streamed for an international audience on the Miss South Africa app.
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with M-Net, Mzansi Magic, Sun International and Brand South Africa. BNG is again the official Miss South Africa celebration partner.