From Tomboy Thobile to Miss Soweto 2020, we get a behind the scenes look at this year’s Miss Soweto pageant and meet our new reigning queen.

The festive season welcomed the 41st edition of the iconic Miss Soweto pageant. Over the years the pageant has launched many prominent careers including those of renowned businesswoman, Basetsana Kumalo, and media personality, Lerato Kganyago. Miss Soweto celebrates beauty, grace, self-motivation, and resilience amongst the women of Soweto.

This year’s judges include broadcaster and businesswoman, Bridget Masinga; renowned gospel singer, Judith Sephuma; and former fashion editor and blogger, Grace Mantjiu.

Bridget shares the importance of initiatives like Miss Soweto, saying, “It really highlights a lot of the good. We live in times where people like to point out the negatives. But then along comes titles like Miss Soweto and countless other initiatives that uplift, highlight, and profile the community and remind you that there is more good in communities than there is bad”.

Second princess Kutlaona Moloi, Miss Soweto 2020 Thobile Steyn and first runner up Anathi Conjwa.

This year’s top twenty finalists blew the judges away with their intelligence, beauty, and confidence. Amongst the finalists who competed for the title are aspiring chartered accountants, models, and students completing degrees in live performance, psychology and politics. 

However, one of the main attributes the judges look for in the next Miss Soweto is a strong passion to make a difference for the next generation.

Bridget explains, “I think it’s important that they’re straddling two different worlds: the pageantry world, where the aesthetics matter, and then there’s the service side of things – the side which is more important than anything else”. Judith adds, “They need to be a lot of things: business-minded, have dreams and aspirations, and have a vision for the next young girl child.”

Miss Soweto 2019, Musawenkosi Gumede shares her words of wisdom for the next queen of Soweto, saying “Winning Miss Soweto takes a lot of persistence and originality. You need to be yourself, claim your place, and know exactly what you stand for.”

Before the final pageant, all the finalists attended workshops to prepare them for the function and received expert advice on honing their fashion sense and enhancing their grooming skills. Judge, Grace Mantjiu shares how her “jaw literally dropped” when she met this year’s finalists at the coaching session. “What was different this year is that they all have fire! They ask questions, they want to learn, they’re so driven.”

The Insider SA gets to know some of the incredible women as they get ready for the final show. All of the finalists are unique, but the common thread binding them together is their pride in being Sowetan women and their strong desire to be positive representations in their community.

Taking the crown home as Miss Soweto 2020 is Thobile Steyn, a 21-year-old Politics and International Relations graduate from the University of Johannesburg. First runner up is singer, songwriter, and artist Anathi Conjwa, and the spot of second princess was taken by 23-year-old Marketing Coordinator, Kutloana Moloi.

Thobile’s surprise and excitement radiates as the Miss Soweto crown was placed upon her head. Chatting to The Insider SA, she shares, “I’m so grateful for this opportunity! This platform is going to help me inspire even more young girls.”

As the newly crowned queen of Soweto, Thobile shows us around her neighbourhood and home in Diepkloof where we meet her proud family, friends, and community as they celebrate Thobile’s win with her.

Thobile admits, “It was actually my mom who entered me into Miss Soweto because she thought I needed a little bit of grooming and that I needed to become a lady – I’m too much like a tomboy.”

Thobile takes The Insider SA around her neighbourhood and home in Diepkloof.

Proud mom, Thobile Steyn, reflects on Thobile growing up, saying “She was always a very energetic, talkative child, always in her books and very focused from a young age.” Growing up with her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother influenced and encouraged her to be the positive go-getter that she is today.

Thobile received a cash prize of R100,000, as well as an additional R5,000 for winning Miss Congeniality. With her prize money, Thobile plans to study further and do her Honours. She is currently planning a small Christmas party for the children in her community, looking forward to sharing cheer and positivity with the next generation. 

Thobile leaves us with a message to the youth, saying, “Wake up, get up, and go take over the world. The world is your oyster. Don’t let people tell you you can’t. Always think that you can and you will. Trust me, you will achieve everything you want as long as you put your mind to it.”