A woman of integrity and spirituality, Miss South Africa hopeful Luyanda Zuma’s fearless take on life is to never let anyone dictate who you’re supposed to be. Being culturally grounded, the 20-year-old proudly represents Pietermaritzburg, in the garden province – Kwazulu Natal. Highly ambitious, Luyanda is a model, an entrepreneur, as well as a final-year Bachelor of Arts in live performance at AFDA in Johannesburg.
An advocate for women’s empowerment, Luynda aims to encourage women all around the globe to live their truth and not conform to societal standards. “I believe that the most powerful women are those who rise against circumstantial dictations”, shares Luyanda.
Moziak caught up with Luyanda to talk about her journey in the Miss South Africa pageant, as well as her advocacy for women’s empowerment.
Congratulations on making it to the top 10. How do you feel about reaching this milestone?
I feel like I’ve reached a great milestone at this current point that I’m in, in the competition.
Before entering this pageant I thought it was all about the crown, but I have learned through all the things that we’ve experienced and shared, that every single day in this pageant is a win for me. I already carry so many lessons, and just feel so blessed to be a part of it all.
What drew you to the world of pageantry?
What drew me to pageantry is its ability to amplify one’s contribution to the betterment of humanity. I know this even more now, but pageantry is not about the crown it’s about the labour that the crown comes with and the greater responsibility. To be a part of those who are responsible for spreading the South African voice globally would be such an honour. It is something that I am willing to give every single percentile of my effort towards achieving in bettering society and ensuring I’ve left my mark in this world.
How has your journey in this awe-inspiring competition been thus far?
The journey has been such a ride and it’s been an absolute thrill. The different adventures and growth I’ve undergone is definitely like being in a slow pressure cooker, being guided and groomed by Werner Wessels to work with the Miss SA organisation in a nutshell is an absolute blessing and a thrill of a ride that I’m not willing to let get off.
What has been the most memorable moment of your journey in the pageant?
The most memorable part of the journey so far has been finding out that I’m in the Top 10! The emotions I was going through and having to know I’m a step closer to my dream is something that I find a tad bit difficult to get over. Also having to see the other girls’ emotions on their faces was by far a highlight I don’t want to forget.
South Africa has various socio-economic issues. Which of these are you most passionate about tackling?
I’m most passionate about tackling the state of homelessness in South Africa, particularly for young people and women. Looking at the rates and statistics of, gender-based violence, rape, and murder but more so hate crimes in South Africa, particularly towards women and young children, it is so important to make sure that many of our vulnerable groups are protected. That’s the one thing I’m most passionate about.
I want to try by all means to ensure that we have less to none women and young girls on the streets in South Africa.
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?
I think what the youth of today can learn from the youth of 1976 is something I have learnt as a young woman in South Africa. It is never too late to start, but from it all, I’d definitely say it’s the words I strongly live by which is: you are never too young to lead. The class of ’76 fought through the struggle to make sure that we have the freedom that we have today and they didn’t just wait for elders to make the decisions for them. They used their resilience and strength to fight for freedom, which is what I think every individual should take. Be the change you want to see.
The Miss South Africa pageant is set to take place in August. What are your plans from now until then?
My plans leading up to the pageant are to stay true to myself and give off my most authentic self. I have a lot of growth to do, therefore comfort is not an option. I’m planning to get uncomfortable and strengthen my “Why” but in the midst of all of that, having to find a balance between school and the competition is something I really need to work on. I have a few charity activities lined up that I’m still working on putting together, but going into the competition I want to make sure I’m the best version of myself.
As an aspiring philanthropist, Luynda Zuma aims to use her platform as Miss South Africa to project the issues faced by women and children, and be the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.