Name: Thandokazi Mfundisi
From: East London in the Eastern Cape
Occupation: I am a final year LLB student at the University of Fort Hare.
Previous beauty competitions: Miss Freshette University of Fort Hare 2012; Miss Fort Hare 2014; Miss Eastern Cape Beauty with A Purpose 2016/17; Face of Miss Signature 2017
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
Ever since I was four years old, I have dreamt of the honour of being Miss South Africa. The past winners have all gone to be both significant and inspirational to many people and being part of that sisterhood would be a dream come true. The symbolic role of Miss South Africa is that through the title, she also acquires a louder voice. With that loud voice, I would like to take on the responsibility of being a role model, speak on issues that are dear to my heart, especially regarding the development of our country. I also want to empower myself through the skills only this platform can provide. I want to be a beacon of hope for those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, those who have been told they can never make something of their lives, those who have heard the word “no” all their lives.
Encourage them to follow their dreams and to remind them that they are valid and achievable. As a law student, I am very interested in the whole system of basic human rights and privileges and learning about our democracy. People of South Africa have been given their rights, however I want to encourage some positive proactive thinking especially around our youth. Because it really doesn’t help having these rights if we cannot act upon them. To use this platform to teach people situated in remote areas about their rights and how to use them would be a dream realised. Given the opportunity of being Miss South Africa, I would like to focus my work on the people in the areas of our country who are knowledge deprived so that I can impart to them, hope and inspiration from my own experiences, whilst working with progressive communities to promote and maintain change.
Secondly, with the upcoming national elections, I would encourage the youth to participate by casting their vote and be active members of the society because the future of this country depends on us.
What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should a woman who encompasses the principles that this country is founded upon, especially humility. She should display love for her country, not only appreciate diversity but be able to integrate well with others who are different from her. She should be hardworking, responsible, reliable, beautiful, poised and willing to use her skills to make a meaningful contribution to her country. She should be ready, not only to carry the name of this beautiful country and represent it on international platforms, but to transform the mindset of the youth through her voice and message.
Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you and why?
All the previous Miss South Africa’s have used this platform to inspire the youth in various ways. They have used their beauty to come up with innovative ideas which aim to tackle or combat a variety of social ills. The one Miss South Africa who inspired me and continues to inspire me is Bokang Montjane- Shabalala. I have followed her journey as Miss SA and post- reign. She has gone from the ramp to the boardroom and that showed me that she has beauty and brains. She uses her versatility to grow as a businesswoman and she uses her platform to also boost the confidence of young black girls and women in general to be the best version of themselves and most importantly advocated for women to be comfortable in their skin no matter what shade it comes in.
Who are your role models?
My parents because of all the lessons they have taught me. They have taught me to love, respect and show humility towards others. They have supported me and carried me through a great deal of adversities. They taught me to believe not only in myself, but in God as well because He has equipped me with everything that I need to get through life and because of that, I should always maintain a close relationship with Him.
Tell us a bit more about your family.
I am one of the fortunate ones to have been raised by happily married parents. They both work for the Department of Health, my father as a Human Resource Manager and my mother as a Sister. I have five siblings – an older brother (37) who is married with three children, two half-sisters (30 and 27), a younger sister (20) and brother (16). I come from a religious family and growing up I don’t remember ever missing a church services. As religious as my parents are however, they have always afforded us the chance to make our respective choices and continue to support them. They are hardworking, selfless and generous. Since 2014, my father’s health has not been great and from his fragile state, I have learned that life is short and we should appreciate each day with those we love because we could lose them in the blink of an eye.
What do you do in your spare time?
I grew up an athletic child, extra-curricular activities were my favourite thing about school. I play netball, enjoy athletics (high jump, javelin, long jump) and kayaking. I was also in the school band playing steelpans and marimbas. At varsity, I am an active member of the Black Management Forum and a member of Students for Law and Social Justice. I also enjoy reading, dancing and listening to music. I occasionally visit schools, children’s homes with AROK Alive (a non-profit organisation) to do motivational talks and give back to the community. Every birthday, for the past two years, I have collect sanitary pads which I donate to St Thomas School for the Deaf in King Williams Town and teach them life skills with the help of a health professional.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Everything that you want is on the other side of fear so do not fear failure as it can help you to progress in your life. Live out loud; your voice and ideas deserve to be heard. Be determined to live a purpose driven life. Knowing your purpose will keep you focused on your goal. Acquire and education not only to empower yourself, but to empower others as well. Once you get that certificate, diploma or degree, no one can take it away from you. Stay true to who you are, your flaws are what sets you apart.
If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be and why?
Michelle Obama. She is graceful, witty and intelligent. Every interview of hers that I have seen is always informative and forces you to think outside of the box. She is a great teacher and the fact that she was at Harvard Law School is a bonus. She embodies and exudes positivity and wisdom.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I started school at the age of 4. My mom did not believe I passed and I had to go to grade 1 twice.
What are you reading?
I am currently reading The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Ormatian
What music are you listening to?
It is highly influenced by my mood but lately I have been enjoying everything by Bruno Mars.
Your favourite TV shows?
It’s a tie between How To Get Away With Murder and The Fixer
Your favourite meal?
Pad Thai – Thai prawn noodles
What is your favourite quote?
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted the sails” – Elizabeth Edwards