“Resourceful, adventurous, purposeful” are some of the words Top 10 Miss SA finalist Lebogang Mahlangu feels best describe her. Originating from Soshanguve in Tshwane, Mahlangu is a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Food Science from Stellenbosch University; the twenty-six-year-old is also a food scientist who works in R&D for a global Fast-Moving Consumer Goods company. The social entrepreneur and owner of a Soshanguve bakery is a part of a campaign called TalkEat, an initiative that sees them donate meals for every live Instagram conversation held. In 2021, they managed to donate over 40 000 meals.
We got a hold of this remarkable and change-making young lady to find out more about who she is, what her plans are, and how the journey has been for her en route to the Miss SA finale.
Congratulations on making it to the Top 10. How do you feel about reaching this milestone?
Lebogang: Thank you so much. Being a part of the Top 10 feels like such a privilege. It feels like an opportunity to represent the young women of South Africa, and I am excited to have this opportunity.
What drew you to the world of pageantry?
Lebogang: I was drawn to pageantry because I wanted to be an active member of my community. I wanted to stop complaining about how there were no opportunities, and I wanted to be the one to create opportunities with the funds I raised from competing. Pageantry ignited the passion for being an active citizen, and this is something I want to encourage all young people to do.
How has your journey in this awe-inspiring competition been thus far?
Lebogang: This journey has been empowering. I pride myself on being self-aware and open-minded, and I am happy to report that those qualities have improved. I am so excited to grow even more over the next few weeks leading to the finale.
What has been the most memorable moment of your journey in the pageant?
Lebogang: The Top 10 announcement is by far the most memorable. The platform and influence that came with it is not something I can ever explain to someone. It’s a journey you have to walk to understand, which is why I encourage every young woman who has a dream of being Miss SA to enter.
South Africa has various socio-economic issues. Which of these are you most passionate about tackling?
Lebogang: I believe that everyday South Africans have the talents and gifts we need to overcome the social ills that threaten our communities. I think the biggest issue we are facing is apathy and lack of hope. Our young people need to be encouraged and given the platforms they need to address issues affecting them. The future belongs to the youth, and they need to be given an opportunity to play a part in building it so that issues like poverty, unemployment, and crime cannot be perpetuated.
We celebrated Youth Month a few weeks ago. What lessons do you think the youth of today can learn from the resilient youth of 1976?
Lebogang: One of my favourite quotes from Kofi Annan is: “Every new idea and initiative meets with resistance”. This was true for the youth in 1976 and is true for today’s youth. It is difficult and unfortunate, but we have to fight for our future and to take up our space.
The Miss South Africa pageant is set to take place in August. What are your plans from now until then?
Lebogang: I am intentional about spending time with my family and community because that’s where I draw my strength. I am also doing a lot of internal work to make sure I show up as the best version of myself.
In her “if I was a superhero” moment, Lebogang named the Batman as the superhero who inspires her the most. However, the tens of thousands of lives she’s touched – and continues to touch – through her brains and beauty prove that she’s already the superhero she’s always known she could be. And she could become way exceedingly more come August on the night of the grand showdown.