Boipelo Mabe: How to win over a nation

2017-04-02 08:22
Boipelo Mabe
Boipelo Mabe. (Photo: Supplied)

Johannesburg - One of the favourites to win the Miss SA title last weekend was Boipelo Mabe (23), a master’s student at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The taxi driver’s daughter, who hails from Alexandra in Gauteng, captivated the country with her answer to the judges’ question in the Top 5 round of contestants vying for the crown.

Asked about the greatest fear she had to overcome, she replied that it was the fear of intergenerational poverty, which had afflicted her family and which she had escaped, thanks to her education.

Twitter erupted with a collective “yes” to her answer and actress Rami Chuene tweeted: “Well done, Boipelo. Your answer with that generational poverty reminds us of the work still to be done. You rock!”

The day before the pageant, City Press asked Mabe, who is also a newsreader on Soweto TV, what the title would mean for her.

“It is going to be more than a dream come true to me, [it will be] a life change. It’s going to impact my family, community and people who have been looking up to me,” she said.

“It’s going to be the kind of achievement that has a radical effect that goes beyond me and my personal achievement.”

But it was not to be.

The day after, she said: “My eyes were on winning the title of Miss SA. I mean, going through the journey, one thing I learnt was to be true to myself.

I grew up in a typical township that is full of many things, but my parents made sure I had access to information.”

Mabe’s path to her master’s degree in international relations has been paved with loans from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

“Luckily, I received a bursary for my honours degree because I had worked hard,” she said.

“As for my master’s, I am still looking for sponsors to help fund my tuition.”

“Carrying on with life and university was not easy”, and she considered “finding a blesser” – a rich, older boyfriend – to survive.

“But I had to be strong as a young woman at varsity facing pressures that young people face. I had to tell myself that I could make it even during the hard times.”

Her father is her greatest role model.

“From him I have learnt the principles of hard work, standing for what I believe in and to be independent,” she said.

“I used to be embarrassed by the fact that my dad was a taxi driver, but today I have grown to embrace and celebrate it.

“It was his presence, love and support that mattered most to my growth and development as a young woman, not his job title.”

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