CNN’s African Voices Changemakers Meets Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi

On this week’s African Voices Changemakers, CNN International’s Arit Okpo meets the reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi.

Tunzi’s success began with her win in the Miss South Africa pageant. She speaks about her motivation for entering the competition, “I wanted to be Miss South Africa not because I thought I was the most beautiful woman in South Africa, because that would just be creepy. I knew I had a voice. I knew I stood for something. I knew I needed to be heard.”

After being crowned Miss South Africa, Tunzi went on to compete at the Miss Universe pageant, becoming the third South African to win the title. She tells CNN about the moment she won, “It was like a full circle moment for me because I remembered when I started, I remembered why I started. For representation for young girls who look like me, even for young girls who don’t even look like me but have felt misrepresented or felt less represented in spaces. It was just like, just a beautiful moment for me when that happened because I realized it wasn’t just about me.”

Tunzi is using her reign to inspire women and girls. One of her main projects is campaigning for gender equality. She discusses her mission to encourage women to ‘take up more space’, “One of the biggest problems is that when you walk into a room as a woman, sometimes people think you’re invisible. It’s like your voice doesn’t matter it, you have nothing to say. We shouldn’t be scared of our power. As women we shouldn’t be scared of lifting up our hands and we lifting up our voices when we enter into spaces. And that’s what taking up space means.”

Following her win, Tunzi undertook a homecoming tour of South Africa. She details the importance of her home country to her, “It’s such a wonderful, beautiful place to grow up in. So much humility and so much strength and so much passion for life and everything that we aspire to be. That whole community, or in South Africa, we call it Ubuntu, which means we are who we are because of people. And so, I think what drives me is just growing up in that space and I wouldn’t have chosen to grow up anywhere else.”

Tunzi has spent the coronavirus lockdown in New York, something she says has been difficult, “I find myself wishing that I was at least at home when this happened. You know because now I’m constantly worrying about their health or they’re worrying about mine.”

During the lockdown, she’s been using her star power to help people connect on Instagram using the hashtag #UniverseUnited. She speaks about this initiative, “We started it because we felt like there was such a disconnect. You know, because people were socially distancing. I felt that they shouldn’t emotionally distance as well. So, we’re like, let’s just create this virtual global community where we can all share what we’re doing during the day.”

Despite having her reign interrupted by the pandemic, Tunzi says she still has big plans for the future, “Although I can’t say now, exactly, you know, what those plans are. I always say I’m very open to like, I leave space for life to happen as well. Because in as much as we plan, we need to also allow life to take its course.”

African Voices Changemakers airs on Saturday 25th July at 0730 SAST on CNN International

The show also airs at the following times:

Saturday 25th July at 2130 SAST

Sunday 26th July at 04300 SAST, 1230 SAST and 1930 SAST

Monday 27th July at 0530 SAST