Cerebral Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri to represent ‘’all African women” at Miss Universe pageant

At the event Nokeri revealed both a farewell gown and her national costume that she will wear at the 71st Miss Universe pageant, which takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the US on January 14, 2023.

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

There is a time when beauty queens were just that –good looks. Nothing more, nothing less. Not anymore. Times have changed. The concept of beauty has shifted dramatically.  Evolving from just simple physical aesthetics into a complex nuanced idea embracing cerebral elements in the process. Looks still matter. But having God-given looks alone will not buy a young woman wishing to be Miss South Africa in South Africa even a ticket to the Top 30. Forget about the Top 10.

These days the standard of Miss South Africa has been pushed so much high that one need not only have some education, but a good one too as the judges for this pageant in the past 15 years or so, have picked not only the good looking young women, and there are quite plenty of them in South Africa by the way, across all races, but well-spoken and intelligent beauties.

What this means is this: Besides the good looks the young woman wishing to crack it needs to be cerebral as well. Here there is no point pointing out this. But at the risk of boring you with this repetition, let me go back there and look at only the most recent three Miss South Africa title holders: Zozibini Tunzi (2019 also won Miss Universe (2019)), Shudufhadzo Musida (2020) and the current Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri(2022). Tunzi went on to win Miss Universe.

Musida has pained a book for young readers that became a best seller. Nokeri is not only well educated, confident and hardworking, she is cerebral too. (She is using her reign to raise R6 million to address educational inequalities in the country’s education system).

This fact, that is that intelligence is now very much part of the qualities needed to crack the title,  was clear at the costume reveal function held at Sandton’s Maslow Hotel on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, which was also attended by Noker’s  family, sponsors and the media. This young woman from a Limpopo village is extremely intelligent and confident.

Those who attended the event will attest to the fact that If she triumphs at the Miss Universe pageant, not only will she make South Africans across the board proud, but the continent too. This message came through throughout the event, and that is that she is not regarded as representing only South African women at Miss Universe, but the whole African continent. And believe you me, this is not just empty boasting by an overwhelmed beauty queen. She has all the qualities to represent Africa, and not only does she have the grooming qualities, but the brans too.

Miss SA Photos by Frennie Shivambu

At the event Nokeri revealed both a farewell gown and her national costume that she will wear at the 71st Miss Universe pageant, which takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, in the US on January 14, 2023.
The event was emceed by Miss South Africa 2019 and Miss Universe 2019 Tunzi and featured praise singer Masingita Shimbambu who delivered poetry in XiTsonga (Nokeri’s mother tongue) and several other south African official languages to the delight of the guests. Nokeri’s extended family were all in attendance including her father Moses and her mother Betty, her brothers Ntwanano and Nyiko and her sisters Fanisa, Cindy, Molcy and Vutchilo.
Explained the Miss South Africa Organisation’s creative director Werner Wessels: “The national costume is of critical importance when it comes to showcasing the country of the pageant contestant, and it is also one of the favourite events for Miss Universe fans and followers. We always put a lot of effort into it because it is where we can be proudly South African and really showcase the country on an international stage.
“This year we wanted the national costume to have a distinctly African feel. We love the fact that Ndavi is proudly Tsonga. It is at the very core of who she is, and so part of the costume is inspired by her Tsonga culture and it is beautifully represented in the choice and use of fabrics.”
The inner costume is made by Sello Medupe of Scalo Designs who also designed the national costume for Thato Mosehle at Miss Supranational last year.
“The audience should expect vibrant bright colours reflective of our rainbow nation and an African goddess. I am delighted to be showcasing raw African culture in a modern way,” said Medupe.
The national costume also includes a set of wings built by Henk Henderson of Henderson Worx.
Said Wessels: “With the wings we wanted to showcase flight and represent something that is ascending because African women in the world are busy rising; we are seeing this in so many pop culture moments such as The Woman King and Wakanda Forever. Audiences are really taking notice of African culture – specifically focused on African women – and Ndavi is proud to represent that.”
He went on to describe the inspiration for the design.
“For the first time in our national costume we also wanted to have Africa represented. One part of the wing will be the South African flag which we are proud to carry across the world stage. However, there’s another element that we really wanted to showcase, which is that Ndavi is part of a greater global community and proudly African. The other part of the wing features all 54 African countries to emphasise we are part of a universal network.”
Nokeri also unveiled her farewell gown, designed by Juan Visser of Juan William Aria, who is responsible for all her pageant gowns including her preliminary outfit and finale gown.
Said Wessels: “These gowns are absolutely spectacular and today’s gown gives audiences a glimpse of what they can expect on the Miss Universe stage in January. It is gold with precious stones which represents South Africa’s mineral wealth and makes Ndavi look like the South African queen that she is. However, it is also simple enough so that her own beauty can shine through.”
Visser says work on the gowns began more than two months ago.
“I knew with these gowns that I wanted to go all out as this is not only a dream come true for Ndavi but for me too. Since I was a young boy watching the Miss South Africa pageant, I knew I wanted to design clothes for the winner. To have my work showcased on the international stage is such an honour and I am delighted to be part of Ndavi’s continuing journey.
“The fabric for all three gowns was custom designed and beaded and is a process that has taken more than two months from concept to completion. Each detail was meticulously planned and selected so we could achieve the desired look and vision. Her preliminary and final gown involved seven beaders, each taking more than 160 hours to bead,” said Visser.
And the final word to the South African queen herself.
“My Miss Universe preparations are at a peak and I can’t believe that in a month’s time I will be heading to the US to represent South Africa. It’s a real ‘pinch me moment’ and a dream come true for me,” said Nokeri.

“My national costume and gowns are spectacular and everything that I could have dreamed of to feel confident on the Miss Universe stage. I am delighted that my national costume incorporates my Tsonga culture. From the very beginning of my Miss South Africa journey, I always wanted people to know that I was standing for Tsonga people because growing up as a child I felt as if we were under-represented. At the same time, we’ve incorporated the fact that I’m South African and African; this is so beautiful because I’ve come to learn that as Africans we are more alike than we are different thanks to our shared experiences and values. It is a proud moment for me to make all Africans feel seen, understood and represented.
“My farewell gown is a preview of what my preliminary and final gowns are going to be. I feel so regal wearing them and that affects how you show up. I can’t wait to go out there and give it my all.”
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with M-Net, Mzansi Magic and Sun International.

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