Ntandoyenkosi Kunene woke up this morning as Miss South Africa 2016 to a busy schedule.
Even though LaMaZingMedia.com did not managed to meet with her personally, Kunene took time out to answer our questions less than 12 hours after being crowned our new queen.
Has news of your win sunk in? What went through your head as they announced that you are miss South Africa 2016?
I think I was shell-shocked when my name was announced. I am not sure that the enormity of becoming Miss South Africa has fully sunk in. I just know that I am living my dream.
As a little girl growing up in the township I used to model around the house, dream of becoming Miss South Africa and even practise my winning speech in front of the mirror. And here I am today. It is all rather dreamlike at the moment. I just know that I haven’t stopped smiling.
It was announced on Nov 17, 2015, that you were a finalist – 4 months ago. It has been quite a journey. Tell us about it.
It has been life changing. My journey would not have been so rewarding had it not been for the other contestants – the 11 amazing young women that have become my best friends. I have no doubt in my mind that they will continue making waves in their different career paths and becoming successful women in their own right.
There are also all the other people that helped and mentored us – from former Miss South Africa’s to sponsors. Their input was enormous. And we got to meet some wonderful South Africans along the way. I cannot wait for the adventure to continue…
How have you grown personally in the last four months?
I have grown tremendously. I have realised that I am capable of more than I ever dreamed.
Tell us about the mentor experience – what important lesson did you learn from them?
The former Miss South Africa’s who mentored us were amazing. They are part of a small club of women and shared what a Miss South Africa can expect not only in the months but the years ahead.
They taught us to be gracious, kind and always remember how privileged we are.
We are role models and must behave as such. We are now on a journey to give back. I am inspired by the women the Miss SA brand has produced for the last half century: selfless woman who use the opportunities afforded them to not only elevate themselves, but to be of help to others, to serve.
What has shaped you the most as you have been coached and readied for the role of Miss South Africa?
I have to say my family. My father Christopher and mother Baby raised six children (I have four sisters and a brother). They emphasised the value of hard work and believing in yourself.
You have travelled all over South Africa, seen done so many things, what were the highlights for you on this journey?
One highlight was the trip to Cape Town for the World Swimsuit South Africa magazine shoot.
It was also meeting ordinary South Africans at various functions and appearances.
I have never travelled overseas so obviously I am looking forward to going to either the Miss World or Miss Universe pageant.
Share with us how during your reign as Miss South Africa, You are going to make an impact and stand out from all other miss SAs?
I am not sure that I do want to stand out from former Miss South Africa’s. Many have been inspirational for young girls growing up and have continued to make a difference long after their reign ended.
I want to follow in the footsteps of people like Kerishnie Naicker and Basetsana Kumalo who inspired me when I was a young girl.
I want people to remember me five years from now and even longer.
I want to prove that the judges made the right decision when I was crowned Miss South Africa 2016. I want to make everyone proud.
I am going to work closely with sponsors Sun International and Cell C in working with young women on projects such as Take a Girl Child to work. I am committed to empowering South African women.
This is a life changing experience being crowned Miss SA – how are you going to keep yourself grounded? Liesl Laurie admitted that it all became a bit overwhelming after a number of weeks and retreated home for some rest and tlc.
I am not sure if I can answer this now but I know that I can always rely on my family so I can see why Liesl said she retreated home. I know my mother is on the other end of the phone if I need someone to listen to me.
What has been the most challenging encounter you have had in your journey to winning the crown?
Sometime I have had to overcome nerves. I was surrounded by 11 other amazing women all of whom could have been Miss South Africa. I had to stay focused on my goal and dream of becoming Miss South Africa.
What would you like to say to the ladies that you have shared this journey with?
You are all fantastic young women who will all do great things in the future. I am privileged to have got to know you so well and I look forward to seeing what you do in the years to come. I am going to miss you all.
What is the best advice that Liesl Laurie has shared with you?
Be yourself. Remain humble. Be approachable.
Words of encouragement for young ladies who may be interesting in following in your footsteps.
Most women succeed against all odds. I say start writing your own story. Don’t be afraid to dream and be prepared to work hard at what you want to achieve. Never give in, tomorrow could be the day that brings just what you need to turn your life around.
LaMaZingMedia.com wish Miss Kunene an amazing reign and look forward to seeing what she gets up to and of course we will be sharing news of her reign as Miss SA