In a world of high beauty standards, young people find it extremely hard to meet them. Tragically, this often leads to low self-esteem, insecurities, and in some instances, suicide.
It is for that reason that a young lady from Boksburg, Karabo Mbonani spearheaded a female empowerment project that seeks to find young women who want to be judged solely by the depths of their souls and not the brightness of their smiles.
At the tender age of six, Karabo found herself on stage for the first time.
"I remember standing backstage in my favourite pink tracksuit and dirty white sneakers standing among countless beautiful girls who had long cascading curls in their hair and clothes bedazzled in crystals that made them sparkle under the lights. My mother got down on her knees in front of me, wished me luck said a little prayer, and told me to simply do my best and enjoy it," she recalls.
Now, before your mind wanders off to the traumatic episodes of costly and stressful kiddie parades that once graced our television screens, this particular pageant ends with a crown that keeps on crowning.
What seems to many like a silly hobby, dramatically shaped Karabo's life forever. Her parents believed in instilling discipline and principles in her and her siblings. They ensured their children were exposed to a variety of different sports and activities that helped develop and magnify their talents. The activities not only stimulated her mind and helped her stay in shape, but they were also an outlet for a spirited little girl with an unconventional personality to find her passion.
It became very apparent to Karabo that her dream was a calling when Zozibini Tunzi called for young women to take up space in the world after she was crowned Miss Universe in 2020. In this light, she purchased the Miss and Teen Miss Ekurhuleni South Africa pageant and took on the challenge to rebrand and launch it.
What sets this pageant apart from others, however, is that it serves as a platform for young women to emerge as young leaders.
Through this platform, the young women are given developmental skills such as Personal Development, Public Relations and Personal Branding, Personal Finance, Team Building, Public Speaking, Health and Fitness, access to self-improvement information and opportunities, and Beauty.
"I believe that community leadership can aid in the development of grassroots projects and these projects require nurturing to be true catalysts of change. If we all start where we are, use what we have, and make a little difference in our individual spaces, we'll create ripple effects that change the landscape for the future."
The program's core aims are to 'Inspire Passion and Ignite Greatness' for many young women who want to improve their communities and emerge as leaders regardless of their backgrounds.
Since that fateful day at the back of the queue waiting to get on stage at age six, Karabo has been crowned first Teen Miss Ekurhuleni, won numerous titles such as Miss Republic of Azania, Miss Rivonia, and Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Gauteng, and the National First Princess
She has graced the pages of various magazines, appeared on billboards, become a judge with 12 years of experience within the pageant industry, she has sat on prestigious national panels as head judge at pageants such as Miss United Continents, Miss Teenager Universe SA, and Miss Grand South Africa.
Although Youth Month has come to an end for this year, this young lady's work continues. She encourages young women from Ekurhuleni to enter the pageant and stand a chance to be part of her Leadership Program by visiting the website. All entries will close on the 31st of July 2021, and be tallied up by panel up by the panel of judges.
The successful candidates will undergo personal interviews to establish who has the qualities to continue with the journey to becoming Miss and Miss Teen Ekurhuleni 2021. Miss Ekurhuleni will win R20,000 and Teen Miss will win R10,000
Karabo hopes that for many years to come, this platform will create ripple effects that change the landscape for the future.