When the top 10 finalists walk out onto stage on the crowning evening of the Miss South Africa 2021 pageant next month, only one of them will be representing the KZN province. Meet Lalela Mswane, a model and dancer with a Bachelor of Law qualification.
Like so many young women, Lalela has dreamed of being in the Miss South Africa pageant since she was a little girl. Now the beautiful 24-year-old from Kwasokhulu in Richard’s Bay is about to have her childhood dream come true, when she joins the nine other finalists on stage in Cape Town on 16 October.
The youngest of three siblings, Lalela studied law at the University of Pretoria and says her biggest passion is to find meaningful, long-lasting solutions to the issue of unemployment in our country.
Describing herself as tenacious, compassionate and with strong leadership skills, Lalela believes her open heart and willingness to learn and grow make her worthy of the coveted Miss SA title.
“The shortage of employment opportunities in our country is disheartening, particularly in a nation so full of talented and educated people. Our nation lacks the infrastructure to nurture talent and provide platforms conducive to the creation of employment. Consequently, so many South Africans with the best ideas and talent resort to emmigrating. This is something I would like to change.”
That said, Lalela is also extremely proud of her country, and particularly its people. “Our country is extremely rich in diversity, heritage, culture and history. My favourite thing about South Africa is our people and their steadfast spirit in the face of any adversity. We also never fail to make humour the centre of any situation, good or bad. I love that!”
Lalela started her own foundation in June last year with the purpose of providing support to young South Africans from underprivileged backgrounds who are struggling to reach their potential. Through the foundation she hopes to raise funds for orphanages and create mentor programmes aimed at equipping beneficiaries with the tools needed (such as interview coaching and training) to succeed in their chosen careers. “If I was given the opportunity to be Miss SA, I would use the platform to expand the influence of the foundation and focus on merging school syllabi and skill – effectively providing kids with skills that help them transition from school into life outside of school.”
Being a role model to other young women in South Africa is something Lalela takes very seriously. “My message to young girls in SA is twofold: firstly, there is strength in unity and so much greatness can be achieved when we unite as women in support of each other. Another female’s success should inspire you and, secondly, women possess everything within them to achieve anything. Our greatness is innate. We need to stop playing small and shrinking ourselves to fit in.”
While she has loved the pageant experience, Lalela says the journey thus far has also taught her a lot about herself, including the fact that she is braver than she thought she was, especially for having the courage to pursue this dream and open herself up to public scrutiny. “I’ve also learnt that I’m capable of achieving anything I set my mind and heart to – and that I handle high-pressure situations quite well!”
Now that she is headed to the final, we asked Lalela what she is looking forward to the most. “The moment I can’t wait for, is stepping onto that Miss South Africa stage for the first time on the live, final night and saying, ‘good evening South Africa, I am Lalela Mswane from KwaSokhulu, KwaZulu-Natal’. This will be mind blowing because the seven-year-old me will be affirmed for dreaming so boldly.”
Details: Follow Lalela on social media IG: @Lalela_mswane, FB: Lalela lali Mswane and watching the crowning evening live on M-Net at 5pm on 16 October or live-streamed online at www.misssa.live
Text: Leah Shone