South Africa banks on Tatum

MISS South Africa Tatum Keshwar will tomorrow represent the country in the Miss World 2009 pageant at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand.

"With just a day to go before the Miss World pageant I think everyone in South Africa hopes that I will take the crown," Tatum said yesterday.

"Of course, there are no guarantees. I have done my best. Regardless of the outcome, this year has been about you (South African public). I have dedicated my year to the South African people. I have tried my hardest.

"I think that next year, after handing over my crown (as Miss South Africa) and the possible outcome of the Miss World pageant, is going to be a completely new chapter in my life.

"It is going to be very exciting depending, of course, on how Miss World goes. I would like to get some corporate experience, get into business and possibly a TV presenting career as well."

She said it was very interesting to hear the perceptions that some of the contestants had of South Africa before arriving here in Johannesburg five weeks ago.

"I was fielding questions such as, do you have lions in your backyard? can you keep a cub as a pet? Is there still apartheid and how are people treated nowadays?

"I highlighted the progress we have made over the last 15 years of our democracy. I think that now with all the ladies seeing the country, they can go home and say South Africa is beautiful."

Hot favourites to win are Tatum, Miss Vietnam Tran Thi Huong Giang, Miss New Zealand Magdalena Schoeman, Miss Russia Kseniya Shipilova and Miss Sierra Leone Mariatu Kargbo.

Tatum admitted that the last six weeks of her reign as Miss South Africa were the most hectic. "The energy levels at this moment, with just a day left, are waning slightly, but I must say it has had a great physiological advantage hosting the Miss World pageant and knowing that locals came out in droves to support me.

"Wherever we went people came out screaming my name, and that has given me the extra energy to go the extra mile for the rest of the pageant."