Zozibini Tunzi chats about Miss Universe, embracing natural beauty, authenticity and empowering women.

She stole the country’s heart and represented Mzansi well, and now she is taking over the world. As Miss South Africa, Zozibini became a national treasure, and now she’s living her best life in New York City. Many women feel a connection to Zozibini. There’s something magical about the 26-year-old Eastern Cape-born beauty.

Zozibini’s younger sister Sibabalwe (24) says it’s her down-to-earth personality and caring nature that makes her so special. ‘She is an extroverted introvert who is very supportive, inspiring and caring,’ she told YOU Magazine. Zozi, as she is fondly known, is the second child to Lungisa and Phaliswa, who have two other daughters, Yanga (30) and Ayakha (13).

‘I am because you are,’ she wrote to her parents in a heartfelt Instagram post hours before stepping onto the Miss Universe stage. ‘You’ve given me life, you’ve raised me to be the woman I am so that I can stand in a faraway land proudly knowing where I’m rooted and where I come from. I am forever grateful and hope to make you proud, every single day of my life!’ she added. Her father works for the Department of Higher Education and Training and her mother is a school principal.

May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams.

Garreth Barclay @ Hero Creative Management

In 2011, after watching Miss Venezuela Ivian Sarcos clinch the Miss Universe title, Zozi declared that she would one day wear the crown. Exactly eight years later, she wears ‘The Power of Unity’, a brand-new diamond-studded crown worth 73 million rand, which boasts more than 1 770 diamonds set in 18-karat gold. ‘Beautiful on my kinky coarse hair,’ she said of the crown.

It was during a glitzy ceremony held at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, that life as she knew it changed forever. Looking breathtaking in a Biji La Maison de Couture beaded dress, Zozibini held hands with Madison Anderson of Puerto Rico as they waited with bated breath. When Zozibini’s name was called by host Steve Harvey pandemonium erupted among the ecstatic crowd. She beat 90 women from all over the world to clinch the title. She also became the third South African to proudly wear the Miss Universe crown.

‘I could not be more grateful,’ she said. ‘May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams, and may they see their faces reflected in mine.’

Congratulatory messages poured in from all corners of the world, from President Ramaphosa and Oprah Winfrey to A-list celebrities like singer Ciara, actress Viola Davis and models Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell.

‘While stunning on the outside, her true beauty shines from within as a passionate advocate for women and girls around the world,’ wrote actress Gabrielle Union-Wade in an Instagram post.

Garreth Barclay @ Hero Creative Management

Zozibini is no stranger to pageants. In 2015, she was crowned Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Western Cape. Before her Miss SA win in 2019, she made it to the semifinals when she entered for the first time in 2017.

Even though many cheered her on, naturally, there were some naysayers. In a recent interview with Trevor Noah on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Zozibini revealed that she received criticism about her looks. There were comments like, ‘she’s a downgrade from the others that we’ve had,’ and she was even called Miss Ugly SA by a cyberbully based in New York.

‘In that moment I was like, I’m not even mad,’ she told Noah, ‘because it’s just how society has labelled people. We have been programmed to see beauty that way.’

In an interview with the Sunday Times Zozibini explained that it was important for her to keep her hair short and embrace her natural look. ‘If they take me the way that I am, fantastic, if they don’t that’s fine too,’ she said. With that said, she encourages woman to show up as they are. ‘Your imperfections are what make you perfect, so do the world a favour and let us see you in all your glorious wonder!’

Besides her passion for breaking beauty stereotypes, Zozibini is known for promoting women empowerment and speaking out against gender-based violence. ‘It’s a global issue. Women are fighting all over the world to be safe,’ she told Noah. We also saw how important female empowerment is to her while on the Miss Universe stage, when she spoke about the importance of teaching young girls leadership. ‘It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time,’ she added.

Media mogul Oprah subsequently invited Zozibini to speak at The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg.

‘I was like, “Is this Oprah-Oprah?”,’ she said in an interview on Good Morning America. ‘I feel so strongly about it. We should be taught as young girls to grow into women who do not feel shy about wanting to be powerful, and a leader.’

Zozibini’s hope is for young girls and women to look at her and see that they can be represented on the world stage. ‘People can tell you that you don’t belong, and then you start believing it,’ she said, adding that her aim is to get people to realise that they do belong.

For now, she looks forward to the coming months as the reigning queen of the universe.


  • She is scared of heights, known as acrophobia, and also suffers from trypophobia (the fear of holes).
  • She loves reading, and one of her favourite books is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
  • She is a good singer.
  • Her favourite meal is beef stew and umngqusho (samp and beans).

Facebook @zozitunza
Instagram @zozitunzi
Twitter @zozitunzi


ZOZIBINI TUNZI: OWNING HER THRONE ZOZIBINI TUNZI: OWNING HER THRONE Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on February 17, 2020 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.