Zozi Comes Home
“Nothing is as important as taking up space and cementing yourself,” so says Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini “Zozi” Tunzi.
/ One can never take the opportunity of being a parent for granted. It may take more than a village to raise a child nowadays. Still, you can guess the joy Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi’s parents, Lungisa Tunzi and Philiswa Nadapu, must have been experiencing when their secondborn daughter made her grand entrance into this world. One is almost convinced that it must have happened exactly that way because of the ubiquitous vibe and flare that she possesses.
She was named as if destined for grace and success all along. The Xhosa name Zozibini means grabbing an opportunity with both hands, or can be translated as a gesture many native Xhosa speaking people use as an expression of gratitude (sibamba ngazozozibiniizandla).
Fondly known as Zozi, this beauty queen was born in a village of Tsolo 40 km outside
Umtata in the Eastern Cape. She rose to stardom when she rocked her natural hair on the Miss South Africa 2019 stage, and by advocating for women to push the boundaries and take up leadership positions. She walked away with the Miss South Africa crown, and went on to earn the Miss Universe title too. Working hard and believing in her dreams have always been values that her parents instilled in her. Still, as prepared as she was for the Miss Universe 2019 competition, which took place in December last year, she had no idea that she was faced with yet another victory.
Various sponsors, partners and fans of the Miss South Africa pageant descended on OR Tambo International Airport on 8th February. They had gathered to welcome the beauty queen Zozi as she touched down on home soil for the first time since taking over the reins of Miss Universe 2019. During the press briefing held on arrival, Zozi fondly confessed that as well as her wild craving for Aromat, she also really missed eating Nando’s! She stated that the first dish she would eat for sure when she got home though would be umngqusho (samp).
Although it seemed that it was the South African flavours she yearned for while in New York, the one other thing she was looking forward to was being reunited with her family. “Everyone is waiting for me at home. My mom and dad are preparing for my arrival – everyone who knows me knows that I love my home. In fact, my father is the unofficial Mr Universe – he is my biggest supporter and probably out and about at this very moment arranging for my welcome and handling things.”
After her overwhelming welcome in Johannesburg, her first stop was home, where her community waited patiently to
give her a traditional-style welcome and a feast fit for a queen.
Speaking of support, the team at SA Express couldn’t be more delighted to be part of the #ZoziComesHome jubilation – as it is in days like this one that the value of its route network is realised for being vital for connecting customers with smaller regions. The SA Express crew who had the honour of flying Zozi home was led by Capt. Bryan Roseveare. During his introduction, he described Zozi as a star who not only put South Africa in the spotlight, but whose courageous work has made her a role model who inspires change. He added that the occasion was a very proud day at SA Express, and it was a great honour to fly Miss Universe 2019 home.
Accompanying him was Pieter van Zyl, Christian Ferreira and cabin crew members Lee-Anne Price and Gwynne Roberts. They were genuinely humbled by being able to reconnect someone extraordinary with her family and community. Captain Iain Findlay, and first officer Clive Haynes had the pleasure of flying Zozi on her return journey to Johannesburg, and were assisted in the cabin by Nonhlanhla Matladi and Nondumiso Nkala.
In an exclusive interview with SA Express, we had the pleasure of catching up with Zozi.
SA Express: How does it feel to be back home?
Zozi: It’s been everything I dreamt it would be and maybe more. The love you feel when you see all the congratulatory messages online is fantastic, but being here is a totally different experience – you feel the energy, and the atmosphere is exciting.
SA Express: Was pageantry your childhood dream, or did you see it as a vehicle which could give you a platform and the tools to uplift young women?
Zozi: Growing up, I stood for a lot of things, and even though sometimes I didn’t know what it was at the time, it also wasn’t by chance that I found this path and luckily found the Miss South Africa competition, which then elevated me to the Miss Universe platform.
SA Express: How has your life changed since representing South Africa and securing your place in the Miss Universe competition?
Zozi: I would say it was an instant 180 degrees. Immediately after I won, I received an outpouring of messages and tremendous support online, especially on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
SA Express: Living in a rural part of the Eastern Cape, did you get to travel much when you were growing up?
Zozi: I only started travelling five months ago – growing up in the outskirts of the country, “travelling” was often classified as commuting to school and going home to Tsolo on weekends, and later to East London, or going to varsity in Cape Town. I had my first trip outside the country to New York for the Miss Universe competition. I would love to explore African countries, and Ghana is on the top of my bucket list.
SA Express: What are some of the things you are hoping to achieve by the end of your reign?
Zozi: Everything that I advocate for – I hope people out there are listening, and they can reach out and help so that by the end of my tenure we can see tangible solutions to some of the issues affecting women today. Congratulations again, Zozibini Tunzi, and best wishes for the remainder of your tenure as Miss Universe.