SHE was born and raised in Brackenhurst, she has a soft spot in her heart for the youth, and, above all, she is a semi-finalist for the Face of Mzansi pageant. Her name is Lerato Naledi Kutoane and she is determined to lead South Africa’s girls to greatness.
The Face of Mzansi pageant started out at the Miss Face of Vaal pageant in 2005, but due to increasing interest from women across the country, the pageant changed its name last year and Face of Mzansi was officially born.
This pageant is not so much focused on beauty and outward appearance – it rather focuses on entrepreneurship and professional career development.
This is the perfect pageant for Lerato (22) who, in her past experiences, had a hard time at appearance-centred pageants despite her having a long list of personal and educational achievements.
Lerato is the youngest of three children; she boasts two brothers. She went to Glenview Primary from Grade One to Six, Bishop Bavin Private School from Grade Seven to Eight 8 and Bracken High School from Grade Nine to 12. Today, she is busy with her third year towards a BCom accounting degree at the Vaal Triangle Campus of North West University.
Her previous experiences of pageants weren’t too great and, even though she made it quite far, she always found that people would find fault in her. Then, one day at her campus residence, Moahi Village, she met a girl who was participating in the Face of Mzansi pageant. She decided to give it a try.
Today, she is proud to say that she is a semi-finalist in the competition and that she is closer than ever to be able to make something out of her passion, which is the wellbeing of children, especially girls.
She says: “I love all children, but boys have always had an advantage in life. I want to win this competition so that it will give me power and a platform to be able to empower girls, be a good role model for them and prove to them that they can also do anything.”
Lerato talks about her own role models: “My mom, Nomacabani, is my biggest supporter and role model. Then there’s Hlobisile Nxumalo, a girl I met once a while ago. She really inspired me a lot – she’s a self-proclaimed professionista and the epitome of a modern, independent woman. That’s how I want to be.”
Lerato is on her way to being a great role model, as proved by the dreams that she’d like to achieve most.
“I hope it’s true that I have a different mindset than a lot of stereotypical ‘pageant girls’,” she says.
“I know that, whatever I set my mind to, I will achieve it. I’m really not doing this pageant for myself – I just want to make a difference in the minds of young girls and have them believe that they, too, can do whatever they set their minds to.”
She continues: “If I were to win this pageant, I’d be so happy because then I’d have some money to start even more initiatives in aid of children in need.”
Lerato recently held a soup kitchen at the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership, where over 200 children showed up in the cold to compete for the championship of a competition called the 2018 Youth Citizenship Action Programme. She chose this event because she admired the dedication those children showed towards such a positive and empowering competition.
“I have a passion for the youth because the future truly lies in their hands,” says Lerato.
“Without focusing on them, how can there be a future for South Africa or the world at large?”
She concludes: “I want to let all the young people know that they should never limit themselves according to the opinions and judgment of others. Just let it slide off your back and soldier on towards your dreams. Other people’s approval does not matter!”
Follow Lerato on Facebook (Lerato Ray Kutoane) and Instagram (La_Ledi) to keep up with her progress and upcoming fund-raising events.
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