Zozibini Tunzi is a South African model and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Universe 2019. Tunzi had previously been crowned Miss South Africa 2019. She is the third woman from South Africa to win the title, and the first black woman since Angolan Leila Lopes was crowned Miss Universe 2011.
Tunzi was born on 18 September 1993 in Tsolo, Eastern Cape to parents Philiswa Nodapu and Lungisa Tunzi, and raised in the nearby village of Sidwadweni. Tunzi is one of four sisters. She later moved to Cape Town, settling in the Gardens suburb in order to attend Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She graduated with a National Diploma in public relations management in 2018. In 2017, Tunzi was working as a model and living in East London, Eastern Cape.
Prior to winning Miss South Africa, Tunzi was completing a Bachelor of Technology graduate degree in public relations management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and worked as a graduate intern in the public relations department of Ogilvy Cape Town.
Miss South Africa 2019
Tunzi began her pageantry career in 2017, when she was accepted as one of the top 26 semifinalists of Miss South Africa 2017. She returned to pageantry to compete in Miss South Africa 2019. On 26 June 2019, Tunzi was confirmed as one of the top 35 semifinalists of the competition, among initial applications. After further auditions, Tunzi was announced as one of the sixteen finalists on 11 July.
After being selected as one of the finalists, Tunzi went on to compete in the Miss South Africa 2019 pageant in Pretoria on 9 August. She progressed through the stages of the final, advancing to the top ten, then top five, and finally the top two until she was crowned the winner by predecessor Tamaryn Green, beating runner-up Sasha-Lee Olivier.
Following her win, Tunzi received prizes including R1 million, a new car, and a fully furnished apartment in the Sandton neighbourhood of Johannesburg, which is valued at R5 million, for her to use throughout her reign. The achievement allowed Tunzi to represent South Africa at the Miss Universe 2019 competition.
Miss Universe 2019
Tunzi arrived in Atlanta, Georgia for Miss Universe 2019 in November 2019. She competed in the preliminaries on 6 December, and competed in the finals on 8 December at Tyler Perry Studios. During the competition, Tunzi advanced to the top twenty as the first semifinalist for the Africa/Asia-Pacific continental region. She then advanced to the top ten, then the top five, and ultimately the final three. By the end of the event, Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe 2019 by outgoing titleholder Catriona Gray of the Philippines, beating first runner-up Madison Anderson of Puerto Rico and second runner-up Sofía Aragón of Mexico.
Tunzi's win is South Africa's third Miss Universe crown; she is the first black woman to win the Miss Universe title since Leila Lopes was crowned Miss Universe 2011, and the first to do so with afro-textured hair. With her win, 2019 became the first year that all four major United States-based pageants were won by black women; other titleholders were Nia Franklin (Miss America 2019), Kaliegh Garris (Miss Teen USA 2019), and Cheslie Kryst (Miss USA 2019). Additionally, 2019 would also become the first year that black women won the two most prestigious international pageants after Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica later won Miss World 2019.
As Miss Universe, it came with Tunzi having to reside in New York City, and take part in a number of events and appearances throughout the world. After winning Miss Universe, Tunzi was succeeded as Miss South Africa by her first runner-up Sasha-Lee Olivier. In her capacity as Miss Universe, Tunzi has traveled to Sumba and Jakarta in Indonesia, various cities within the United States and her home country of South Africa.
Making History as the Longest-Reigning Miss Universe
Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi took her words of “cementing yourself” literally when she was crowned in 2019. Case in point? The beauty queen has “cemented” herself to her crown for 467 days and counting, officially making her the longest-reigning Miss Universe ever. Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe in December 2019, and her victory made her the third South African woman to win the title. Before Tunzi, Miss Universe 2012 Leila Lopes from Angola held the longest reign, holding the title for 464 days from September 2011 to December 2012.
In 2020, the pageant was put on hold due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and Tunzi pleaded with the world to not stop taking up spaces, saying: “We don't stop taking up spaces just because we are socially distancing.” The pageant will be held in Florida, US, on May 16, 2021 for the 2021 edition.