For Itumeleng Parage, the Miss SA platform is a transformative tool that helps women realise their potential as powerful voices, powerhouses, and catalysts for change. The twenty-two-year-old Miss SA Top 10 finalist from Central Western Jabavu in Soweto is a Bachelor of Law candidate and a Bachelor of Art (law major) holder from Wits University. Itumeleng is the founder of Sister Sister, a mentorship programme geared towards giving young women from her community the inspiration, guidance, and exposure they need to access opportunities relevant to them. Strong-willed and ambition-driven, she has taken a stand against the scourge of Gender-Based Violence and the problem concerning access to tertiary education for the disadvantaged South African youth.
Moziak caught up with Itumeleng ahead of the grand finale to talk shop about her journey, plans, and how she feels about the issues plaguing the country.
Congratulations on making it to the Top 10. How do you feel about reaching this milestone?
Itumeleng: This dream I’ve had since I was a child has been affirmed and has also restored my faith. I now know well that nothing is impossible and that dreams come true.
What drew you to the world of pageantry?
Itumeleng: When I was fourteen, I got scouted to participate in Miss Teen Soweto; that’s where my love for pageantry began. What drew me to the platform was the idea that I’d be spending time with other young girls from Soweto and doing amazing activities leading up to the crown.
How has your journey in this awe-inspiring competition been thus far?
Itumeleng: It has been life-changing. It’s interesting how people’s eyes light up when they see my Miss South Africa finalist sash. They are somehow prepared to hear what I have to say; this shows how big and reputable this platform is.
Itumeleng: The night we were announced to the public as the Top 10 and the dinner that followed with Bonang Matheba. It all felt like a dream. I’ll never forget that night.
South Africa has various socio-economic issues. Which of these are you most passionate about tackling?
Itumeleng: I am passionate about tackling the lack of access to tertiary education for our disadvantaged youth so they can live up to their full academic potential and have a fair chance in the job market or even create their own businesses.
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?
Itumeleng: We can learn to be united in tackling challenges, never back down in the face of opposition, and know that the future of our country is in our hands. It is up to us to act.
The Miss South Africa pageant is set to take place in August. What are your plans from now until then?
Itumeleng: I will continue working on my campaign #HigherLearning by doing various initiatives and preparing myself mentally and physically.
As all roads lead to the SunBet Arena at Time Square, Itumeleng will be looking to take the crown and consolidate her status as a leader, a voice for change, and a powerhouse in her own right in the noble causes for which she is a proud champion.