Beauty pageants in 2016: hit or miss?

By Drum Digital
03 December 2016

It's business as usual as Miss Soweto pageant enters its 38th season at the Soweto Theatre on Saturday, 03 December 2016.

It's business as usual as Miss Soweto pageant enters its 38th season at the Soweto Theatre on Saturday, 03 December 2016.  

The organiser of the event, Colin Sithole took over the event from his father officially in 2012, who started it in 1979.  “After the Soweto uprising people were trying to find their way back to normal lives,” said Colin. That was when his father noticed men were kept busy with soccer, and to entertain the women he came up with the idea of starting a pageant, Miss Soweto.  The pageant was a hit in the 90s and was held at big venues like the Standard Bank Arena which has a capacity of over 6000 people, but it’s not the case now.

After a while there were debates on whether beauty pageants served any purpose or were just exploiting women. Organisers decided that a pageant should be a contest not just about beauty without brains, but an ambassadorship to empower women.

Miss SA pageants have produced big names such as Basetsana Khumalo who is now a business woman and Lerato Kganyago, a radio and TV personality amongst others.

There was a time when people used to rush home to watch Miss South Africa, but as time went the hype dropped until Miss South Africa 2014 Rolene Strauss became Miss World. Others didn’t know who Miss South Africa was until she won Miss World and everyone was talking about her. Sun International and CELL C remain the pageants biggest sponsors..

However, Miss Soweto hasn’t had that much luck when it comes to sponsorship. “I don’t know where we would have been if it wasn’t because of White star as a sponsor,” said Collin. Although the pageant is still continuing, the venue has become smaller.

Colin believes there is still demand for attendance, but there aren’t enough sponsors to cater for such. The exiting Miss Soweto Buhle Xulu said she used her reign to educate and support communities in and around Soweto. “I was at school and wanted to do well there,” said Buhle.

“I had to balance my time as I didn’t want to disappoint my title too,” she added.

Buhle will hand over the crown on Saturday and wants to enter Miss South Africa in future.

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