Text by R. Galvez [@the4ofustraveling] / Graphics by Krizza Enriquez [@kxxenriquez]

The Lalela Mswane that we saw back in 2021 was not yet in full bloom. Caught in the maelstrom of political and global health crises, her participation at the Miss Universe 2021 pageant which was held in Eilat, Israel was quite controversial in her home country. The South African government withdrew its support on Lalela after she refused to boycott the pageant. The ruling African National Congress party is a strong ally of Palestinian Liberation Organization that dates back from the apartheid era.

COVID-19 was also a big threat at that time with one contestant tested positive upon her arrival in Israel. Despite of these controversies, Lalela forged ahead and exceeded all expectations by finishing 2nd runner-up. But that wasn’t the best that Lalela could offer. This year, she became first South African and the first black woman to win the Miss Supranational crown.