It’s officially pageant season in South Africa and one of our most unique pageantries is gearing up for its final stages. Mrs South Africa has been around since 2004 and is a pageant that represents more than just beauty, but believes in empowering women across the nation.
At a time when South African pageant winners are representing us on the global stage (We’re writing this just a week after Thato Mosehle came 3rd at Miss Supranational; we’ve also done well at recent Mrs World, Miss Universe and Miss World pageants) the opportunity to launch your brand by winning the crown has never been more attractive than it is today.
This week we spoke to Mrs South Africa finalist, Itumeleng Kekana who is among the remaining 25 women who are vying for this year’s title. Itumeleng hails from Limpopo, a province renowned for its beauty, entrepreneurial drive and abundant talent.
We were eager to learn her story and find out more about how she plans to set herself apart from her competition in this year’s pageant.
Conversations with a Powerhouse: Itumeleng Kekana
Hello Itumeleng welcome to Moziak Magazine, how are you doing today?
I’m well thank you, my day to day is always a bit crazy but I’m not complaining! Today it’s work on my mind but as a mom, I always need to be there for my family too. And of course, we’ve got Mrs South Africa to always consider! Overall, I have plenty to thank God for!
We’ve heard a lot about you and your career, but for those who are reading about you for the first time please give us an introduction into who you are.
To begin with, I am from a small town in Limpopo called Mokopane. I am a mother to five, I am married to a wonderful man and I am an entrepreneur! I run 1080 construction which works in the mining space, and I also run the Itumeleng Ledwaba Foundation which focuses on girl and boy mentorship. I have also been called into ministry and I am proud to be pastoring for Light of Zion Ministries. And I’m also a finalist for this year’s Mrs South Africa!
How did your Mrs South Africa journey begin?
A couple of years ago I was in a really dark space when I bumped into an old friend in town. I saw her and something looked different about her that day. She looked transformed, I almost didn’t recognise her! I asked “What happened” and she told me “Mrs South Africa happened.”
It was my first time hearing about the pageant but something about my friend’s aura was just remarkable. She looked like a completely changed woman so I wanted to find out more about this “Mrs South Africa” and how the journey she was on influenced who she became and that’s where I learned so much about the pageant, what it stands for, the entire organisation, the mission to empower women everywhere, and I knew that I simply had to get involved.
Now, I am proud to say that I am!
It must be a little bit surreal to realise that you are a finalist, and that now more than ever, you have an incredible chance to go all the way. Has all of that actually sunk in?
Oh my word! I needed a week to absorb the shock, but now it’s starting to sink in. When I heard my name called out on stage I screamed so loudly that I forgot to actually move! I forgot I needed to actually step onto the stage and receive my sash. It was such an amazing moment!
When you look around you see all of the amazing women that you are walking this journey with and they all have seriously inspiring stories. They are all beautiful inside and out. So to be among the 25 finalists, form a group of women who are doing such great things for their communities is a real privilege. I wish we could all have gotten sashes, but there could only be 25 finalists.
Mrs SA is a very empowering platform that has transformed over the past few years and now reflects many women across South Africa. What is the strategy behind your individual campaign this year?
My strategy revolves around impacting lives. I already have plenty of work to be proud of thanks to my involvement with my organisation, which focuses on impacting both boys and girls back home. I want to preach the message of letting your light shine.
I strongly believe in finding your purpose. Not understanding who you are and what you are here to do gives birth to so much confusion. But when people know what they were made to do, their light shines. And when your light shines it doesn’t just shine for you, it shines for those around you.
That’s the main belief that informs all the work I do in my foundation. I help the boys and girls understand why they are here, what their inner power is and how they can be given a chance to blossom.
My ministry is also about developing yourself after discovering your purpose.
Mrs South Africa gives me the platform to help many others discover their purpose too and I consider this a true blessing.
We’ve seen previous Mrs South Africa winners go on and make the country proud at Mrs World. Do you believe that, should you win the crown, you will get to help those around the world find their purpose too?
Absolutely! I always think that we all really need a platform to make a huge difference, and winning Mrs World would be the greatest platform I can think of. The thing is, when you accept your purpose, and you answer your calling, you can achieve even the grandest of dreams. Your gift makes room for you and there’s no limit to how far you can spread your message.
Okay let’s pretend you are on stage at the Mrs South Africa finale and it’s QnA time with one of the judges. They ask you, “Which 3 areas would you aim to fix in South Africa?” – How do you respond?
Wow that is a big one, okay the three areas I would choose are:
- Women Empowerment: It sounds cliché but it’s so vital in this day and age. And I’m not only talking about career-wise, but mental, spiritual, societal empowerment. Empowering women in the workplace, in the church and in every space they set foot. I always say “Everything has been birthed by women” so if we empower women to recognise the power they have, families, communities and societies come from that.
- Secondly, Entrepreneurship: We seriously need this especially for the youth where we are seeing record unemployment. It’s been so sad but if we empower entrepreneurs, you create jobs and you create a stronger economy.
- Lastly, Male Empowerment: Just like we need to empower women, we need to empower men and boys too. We need to equip them to become pillars of strength in our communities rather than threats and risk. We need to make sure they fulfil their potential so that we work together as a nation.
It has been heartwarming hearing your vision. How has your family supported you during your Mrs SA journey?
My family have been my BIGGEST supporters by far, they have been so excited from day one. Even when I need to come to Johannesburg for workshops, my sons will lead the prayer circles and pray for their mother. I’ve never heard them pray like that!
But even outside of my immediate family, seeing the impact this has had on my community has made me so proud. People are praising me and wishing me luck and supporting me, it has really brought us all together and given us something to be happy about – especially during the dark times that we have been in because of the pandemic and lockdown etc.
It has been incredible getting to know you and we wish you the best in your journey. How can we keep in touch with your Mrs South Africa journey and follow you online?
Please do keep in touch, I would love to keep you all posted on every step I take with this journey. You can find me:
On Instagram I’m @Itumeleng_Kekana_
You can also follow the Mrs South Africa Facebook page, Itumeleng Zion Kekana
I would love to keep hearing from you guys! The SMS voting lines for finalists have now opened as well and if you would like to support me you can vote on:
SMS Itumeleng Kekana to 35959, please take note that SMSs cost R3 and free bundles do not apply.