Durban rose Tatum finally wears the crown

Gugu Sibiya

Gugu Sibiya

She is a Durban rose transplanted from the seaside city of KwaZulu-Natal for a moment in the glittering Sun City spotlight.

Not only did she blow the judges away but Tatum Keshwar also snatched the coveted Miss South Africa crown after it had eluded her twice before.

Looking radiant and ecstatic, she told the audience that when her name was called she went through a myriad of emotions.

"I wanted it so badly but when it was finally within reach I could not believe it," she said. "Had I taken winning for granted it would have shown in the different reaction I would have projected when I received news of my winning.

"It was the realisation of a dream made sweeter by the fact that I had really worked for it.

"I think it's very important to be determined. If you don't persist, you will never achieve your goals. Developing resistance towards failure becomes an art."

She says her coronation is very important precisely because of the uncertain political and economic climate as well as the people who are not in a good space at the moment.

"Otherwise how do you explain their looking at celebrities for inspiration, especially in their culture?" she asks.

"So it becomes important to have a role model or somebody you aspire to be like from your own backyard because it makes the dream more tangible.

"I'm grateful for all the support I got, especially when things grew a bit tougher. Faith became my saving strength, especially when the pressure mounted.

"That is why I want to infiltrate South Africa, going to the various schools to inspire the youth. I want to use the skills of the other 11 finalists. Overlooking their skills would be a great waste.

"There is one Miss South Africa and 11 finalists from whose strength I need to draw. I want them to help, I want them to be an extension of the crown. I imagine they would be a great network to work with.

"More than anything, I want to be an icon to be admired. I want to push myself beyond my comfort zone, do things I never dreamt I could.

"For instance, I'm not used to getting on stage and giving an impromptu speech to hundreds of people, yet I did it after winning.

"I was happy with the results because I believe I did well. It's very important to celebrate small successes with the same gusto as the big ones."

Sharing the secret of her success, she says: "As a social chameleon, adapting myself to my environment around the other girls was easy. My advantage was having an idea of group dynamics, how the different personalities of the girls worked. I sat back and enjoyed the scene unfolding around me."

Fitting in and out of the two roles of queen and model will not be a challenge to her since she is conversant with both.

As queen the focus is on beauty and intelligence, while models have to put their best foot forward showing designs on the ramp.

"My greatest wish is to meet Nelson Mandela," she said. "I hope it happens."

She also said she was going to open herself to all the opportunities that come her way during her reign as the most beautiful woman in the country.