The top 19 finalists vying for the coveted Miss Soweto 2023 title have been revealed.
Former Miss South Africa Liesl Laurie-Mthombeni was the host of the event which was also streamed live to audiences who could not attend.
This year’s finalists are Reshoketsoe Monare, Boikobo Mogobeng, Bonolo Motsukunyane, Diana Ndavani, Gugu Masango, Kamogelo Mokone, Katlego Nyama, Khutso Maladzhi, Kwanele Grace Mabunda, Lebogang Mtshali, Lethaukuthula Ayanda Maseko, Lungile Hlubi, Nhlakanipho Amanda Mkongi, Nomfundo Zungu, Nomthandazo Charmaine Madigo, Ofentse Pitso, Ofentse Zamokuhle Radebe, Olerato Sekgothudi and Paige Lynique Harvey.
The beauty queens were showered with pearls of wisdom by some of the guests who have walked the same path.
Beauty queen Augustine Masilela-Chuene, who started her journey in the public eye as Miss Soweto in 1987, joined this year’s finalists as they made their first media appearance in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Masilela-Chuene was joined by “Sowetan” editor Nwabisa Makunga, songbird Azana and flutist Khanyisile Mthetwa. Miss Soweto 2021, Ludina Ngwenya, and current title-holder Tsakane Sono were also in attendance. Sono’s love for pageantry has taken her to compete at Miss SA and Miss Universe.
Also on the panel were Dr Ntsiki Molefe-Osman, a holistic wellness expert, and Nomusa Mlambo, a financial expert. The event served as an empowerment experience for the top 19 finalists, where the all-female panel discussed issues of finance, mental health and identity.
“I had tried the competition in 1985 and 1986. But going back in 1987, I knew then what I was supposed to do. I knew there was a bigger picture to this. Go there prepared, ready to tackle anything and the world with a purpose,” Masilela-Chuene advised.
Host Laurie-Mthombeni who is from Eldorado Park, won Miss Soweto in 2010 when she was 19, and went on to win Miss SA in 2015.
“I didn’t win the first night, but what I took from that looking back now is that, yes, it was a destiny delayed, not denied, so the spaces that you are in right now, take those opportunities,” she said.
Speaking about her time as an unpaid reporter in Ggeberha in the Eastern Cape, Makunga encouraged the finalists to pursue their goals, no matter what.
“When I left that building, I was editor-in-chief of the newspaper, and the point that I want to make is that people look at you and your dreams and may question whether these dreams are valid. Remember that your dreams are valid,” she said.
“Even in moments when you are planning and working and nothing seems to be a breakthrough, understand that they are still valid. Not a single thing that blossoms into a mighty big thing starts big. Everything that we do that is meaningful starts small. When you have an idea, the important thing to ensure is that you work on it.”