From athletics to music, these 8 women personify excellence in their various fields

Caster Semenya of South Africa during the presentation waves at spectators during the Diamond League Athletics meeting Weltklasse on August 24, 2017 at the Letziground stadium in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo by Robert Hradil/ Getty Images
Caster Semenya of South Africa during the presentation waves at spectators during the Diamond League Athletics meeting Weltklasse on August 24, 2017 at the Letziground stadium in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo by Robert Hradil/ Getty Images
  • This year has been a lot, with its downs and very few ups for most of us. We've lost many women due to Covid-19 and South Africa is still mourning with families who are scared and heartbroken.
  • But 2020 isn't just the year that we cry for our sisters and mothers, we also celebrate the amazing women who are pioneers of our time. 
  • Here's a young round-up of some of the women who continue to bring a little sunshine into a very challenging time.

Zozibini Tunzi

The beautiful Zozibini is the third South African woman to be crowned Miss Universe, the first black African woman and the first black woman since 2011. She's made history all over the place. 

Of course, South Africans are all incredibly proud of the 26-year-old, who said during the pageant: "I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful, and I think that it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine."

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Of course, we were all in tears as we watched the public relations graduate walk the stage and be crowned while wearing her impressive natural, tapered fade. And we love that she continues to be a symbol of hope even in this challenging time.

Sho Madjozi

2019 was a fantastic year for the rapper and singer. 

Sho released her hit song John Cena, got over 5 million views on the video, went viral, then got to meet the actual John Cena after inspiring the #JohnCena challenge, but that's not all the Limpopo-born star has done this year. 

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She won two SAMAs in June for Limpopo Champions League, her debut album, on top of three other nominations. Later that month, she received a BET award for Best New International Act and walked the red carpet, flying our flag and making us proud. Need we say more?

She even got a shoutout from Missy Elliot!

Major Mandisa Nomcebo Mfeka

Mandisa is not just South Africa's first female fighter pilot, but the world's! Doesn't it just make you want to dance with pride and joy?

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Mandisa has loved planes since was about five years old and dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot but never thought it was possible until she saw an ad for recruitment from the South African Air Force, which she joined after high school. 

Saray Khumalo

Saray became the first black African woman to conquer Mount Everest last year after three other attempts, according to News24.

She has reached the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mera Peak Lobuche East, the Mount Elbrus traverse, and the Mount Aconcagua traverse. Saray uses her mountain climbing expeditions to raise money for good causes such as Kids Haven and The Lunch Box Fund.

Caster Semenya

National treasure and runner, Caster, took on the IAAF last year over testosterone-curbing regulations for female athletes. Their previous ruling meant that Caster could not defend her 800m World Championship title, but the runner hasn't let that get her down.

While she's still fighting for herself and other female athletes, she's still got her sense of humour and pride as she says that she's only being attacked because she's "excellent". We see no lies. 

Tatjana Schoenmaker

At just 21 years old, the swimmer won double gold for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games, beating a 19-year-old record set by Penny Haynes. Our girl is still humble though. 

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Speaking to Sport24, Tatjana said, "I am so grateful for every person who supported me and helped me get to where I am today. It's funny to hear that I have transformed myself into South Africa's top female swimmer. I was trying to swim my races and get as close as possible to my personal best. I believe that you shouldn't wait for an opportunity, you should create it and if you've got a lane, you've got a chance."

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng

This woman brought a revolution to South Africa from our bookshelves to our Twitter feeds when she released A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure. In the book, she covers a wide range of subjects, from vaginal cleaning to puberty, to anatomy lessons and sexual consent. 

Her book became a sensation and Dr T has become a household name synonymous with openness and honesty about bodies and sex. 

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I asked Dr T what her year has been like and she said: "2019 had some of the best moments of my life and what a way to end the decade. My book is a South African bestseller and through it the Pleasure Revolution (aka Tlof Tlof Revolution) has been my most fulfilling achievement of the year."

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Almost 1 year

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Ming-Cheau Lin

The Taiwanese-born, South African-raised food blogger, released an amazing cookbook in 2018 called Just Add Rice – stories and recipes by a Taiwanese South African, but 2019 had even more in store for the writer. 

Ming was selected as a national finalist in two categories for Just Add Rice at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2019

Ming launched Yellow and Confused – born in Taiwan, raised in South Africa and trying to make sense of it all this year, after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl just a few months before. She gives a voice to East Asian immigrants in a country where race is such a tense conversation, and we often overlook minorities.  

Do you know a trailbrazing woman? Tell us about her here.

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