Cape Town - Crowds lined the streets when Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, returned to the school she credits with her success, Canaan Academy in Dutywa, Eastern Cape.
This is the first time Zozibini is back on home soil, after being crowned Miss Universe 2019 in Atlanta in December.
And there to greet and surprise her were young men and women who had been her classmates in grades one and two, and well as headmistress Margaret Kyambadde, who was Zozi's English teacher in the first years of her school life.
Barely able to contain her excitement, Margaret said she always knew that "this young woman had something special," while her husband James, a director at the private school, said: "We have been extremely excited, waiting for this day to arrive. This young lady has done us proud. We asked the Department of Education to grant permission for children from neighbouring schools to come and see Zozi. She is such a role model for the entire community, and we want all the youngsters to meet her and be inspired by her."
Canaan Academy Dutywa was started in 2004 and Zozi was one of the earliest learners to enrol.
James added: "Zozi has brought great honour to the school, but everyone from her year has gone on to do very well. We groomed those pioneers and are proud of them; all of Zozi's grade one class have made it to tertiary education, and we have produced doctors, engineers, town planners and auditors."
Zozi's biggest surprise was when her old classmates and friends she had not seen for years gave her a standing ovation, moving her to tears.
Weeks of preparation included a song composed especially for her and sung by the school choir and the recital of a poem written for her.
As the 68th Miss Universe winner, Zozibini is currently on a week-long festivity that includes visits to Johannesburg and Cape Town, Mthatha and the two villages she grew up in - Tsolo and Dutywa in the Eastern Cape.
She waswelcomed at OR Tambo on the weekend by dignitaries and members of the public before flying to the Eastern Cape.
On Thursday she will ride in an open-topped bus through the streets of Johannesburg and later fly to Cape Town where she will be the personal guest of President Cyril Ramaphosa as he gives his State of the Nation Address in Parliament.
On Friday it will be the turn of Cape Town residents to see Tunzi as she makes her way through the city in a street parade.
Compiled by Graye Morkel