Being crowned in a year that marks 20 years of South African democracy is one of Miss South Africa contestant and recent Monash graduate, Tidimalo Sehlako’s, biggest dreams. “The possibility of being crowned in such a beautiful year that bears such historical significance is truly humbling,” she says.
Tidimalo’s understanding of democracy stems from the tragic Sharpeville days. On March 21, 1960 Tidimalo’s grandparents were activists present at the Sharpeville massacre. In fact, her grandfather Walter Sehlako was among the men who collected bodies along the streets following the incident in which police opened fire on demonstrators who were protesting against the pass laws.
“Many of their compatriots died on that day and the stories I’ve heard about the aftermath are deeply painful,” she says. Tidimalo adds that today, however, the stories have a more positive meaning and she is proud that Sharpeville is one of the townships that stood up and fought for her freedom. “South Africa’s freedom is very precious. Our people died to secure our freedom and grant us the right to cast a vote.”
Tidimalo’s social conscience doesn’t stop at exercising the right to vote. “It is just a part of who I am to care enough to act,” she says. Tidimalo reveals that she is passionate about the empowerment of women, quality education and other elements that contribute towards building a better South Africa.
“My mother Dikeledi Sehlako is a philanthropist. Growing up I was taught to be very aware of the welfare of others,” she says. Empowering women is at the very top of her agenda. Tidimalo is currently involved in a programme called “Welfare to Work”, an organisation that aims to encourage young mothers not to rely on government grants by equipping them with employable skills. During her journey as a Miss South Africa contestant she has also visited various schools in Gauteng and talked to girls with the support of her university.
Tidimalo believes that education is vitally important and that her university years have laid a great foundation for her future. “This is just the foundation. I am firmly committed to my university’s mantra ‘Ancora Imparo’ (I’m still learning),” she says.
You can get more on Tidimalo from the following sources:
Facebook: Miss SA Tidimalo Sehlako