Miss Eastern Cape- a pageant with a purpose

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I recently had the experience of being on a panel of what I thought was a beauty pageant. At the time of accepting the invitation, I had several reservations. Based on what I write about and who I am, you would know that I never want to be in a position of power that “judges” people according to their looks and legs and not who they are. That’s not who I am (anymore).The All-Girls’ school paradigm and standard of mainstream beauty has long evaded me and helping ladies feel secure in themselves is who I have chosen to be. I also advocate against the objectification of women which exploits their souls by the instrumentality of their bodies.

I walked into the venue filled with giggling girls in their high heels. Some looked eager, some nervous and others inert.

I spotted the organizer and brains behind the initiative, Zikhona Ngxata, who looked like one of the girls herself. Zikhona was a pageant queen and still holds the title and passion in her heart, which is why she brought this competition to life.

Of course, I snowballed her with questions about the pageant before sitting on the judging seat, just to ease my conscience.

Firstly I learnt that the pageant has two categories, Miss Eastern Cape (Ages 20-30) and Miss Eastern Cape Teen (ages 13-19). Secondly, the beauty pageant is focused on developing and empowering young girls and young women from the Eastern Cape.

Having looked at the social ills in our province, Zikhona’s team together with the Departments of Health and Education, found that the Eastern Cape is one of the provinces that is mostly affected by teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poverty and illiteracy. Zikhona’s company came up with this campaign that tries to deter these young girls and young women away from the streets and instill value and principles of self-love and self-value.  Lastly, Miss Eastern Cape looks to develop these young ladies from a holistic approach; spiritually, politically, economically and socially.

Miss Eastern Cape (incl Teen) will instill values of gratitude,with the knowledge of the blood shed for our freedom. The onus  is on us to sustain and maintain this honour instead of abusing it. Furthermore, the women will work together with their chosen communities to build an even brighter and better future for our lovely, province and country.

Eastern Cape is the ‘home of legends’ and if we do not step up to the plate as young people, that statement will remain a part of history.

Women have  power to influence and need to be cognizant of it and activate it. This collective  influence will raise an army that will go together in fighting the social ills and making the province a better place to live in.

I believe this is the start of great things for the Eastern Cape and South Africa at large. The message behind this concept “beauty with purpose” completely overturns the external trajectory of outer beauty and focuses on the inner, truest beauty, compassion and social responsibility.

Needless to say, I was happy to be part of the Port Elizabeth panel and a keen supporter of this cause. Women, thou art loosed!

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*Miss Eastern Cape will be held at the East London International Convention Centre on 6 December 2014. Miss Eastern Cape and Miss Eastern Cape Teen  tickets are R 120.00 normal seats and R250.00 for VIP, (VIP includes a 3 course cocktail meal) and are available at Computicket!

15 things you should do at least once in your life

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The sky isn’t the limit, it’s my office!

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We are often told that the sky is the limit. Oyama Matomela, a commercial pilot license holder at 22, South African brand ambassador and strong believer in our living God disputes this, saying it’s more like her office. She is a loving, fun person, with a whole lot of spunk. She believes that laughing is one of the best things on earth and describes herself as sassy, driven, goal-orientated and ambitious beyond her abilities (sometimes). She is added to the ever-growing list of Sorority Sayings contributors, and this is what she had to say!

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SS: When did you realize that you wanted to be a pilot?

OM: Early memories of family trips taken to the Port Elizabeth International Airport to watch in fascination while the aircrafts take-off and land, brought to me an unimaginable dire need to venture into Aviation and Piloting in my teen years

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SS:When did you qualify?

OM: The Department of Roads and Transport of The Eastern Cape awarded me a bursary to commence my initial pilot training (theoretical and practical) at 43 Air School, Port Alfred in January of 2010. A life-changing year and eight months was spent in what was the most challenging and seemingly impossible experience that without a doubt tested my passion for flying. This tested me, drove me to work harder than I ever thought I could. There was no limit I would not stretch to, to achieve my goal of becoming a multi-engine, instrument rated commercial pilot in August of 2011.

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SS: What where the biggest obstacles to obtaining your wings?

OM: It became difficult for a low hour pilot such as myself, to find a job in this ever growing Aviation Industry. In December 2012, I self-studied gearing myself to write the Airline Transport Pilot License Examinations in March 2012 which I did and successfully passed all of them.I then enrolled for the September 2012 Grade III Flight Instructor Rating course (fixed wing) with the aid of The Department of Roads and Transport of The Eastern Cape, which I successfully completed and became a qualified Grade III Flight Instructor in December 2012.

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SS: Please share some of the struggles that women face in this industry.

OM: As females we are, for the most part, raised in a different light. Playing with dolls in princess castles rather than being exposed to machinery, while men are generally exposed to racing cars as young boys, this raises the stereotype that compared to men, females do not have the natural ability to fly. As a female pilot in a male dominated industry, you take these stereotypes in your stride and pray more often, work harder, practice discipline and sacrifice your all. With passion, half the battle is won.

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SS: You recently won an award, what was it and how were you selected?

OM: I was recently nominated for CEO Communications’ “Most Influential Women in Business and Governance”. I was notified by CEO Communications that I had been nominated. I then had to fill in an extensive questionnaire of my qualifications and role to society in the Aviation Sector. A selection process narrowed the nine thousand nominations and entries to just under one hundred. It was an incredible honour to be nominated for this role and an overwhelming surprise to receive a finalist award in the Aviation Sector.

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SS: How do young girls, who look up to you, join the industry?

OM: I would definitely encourage young women and girls to pursue a career in the Aviation industry. Young girls should start off on the right foot at school in concentrating on Mathematics and Science. These are two subjects that sponsorships and bursary benefactors base their selection processes on.

Mostly,as women we shouldn’t limit our dreams. Nothing is impossible, even the word says “I’M POSSIBLE”.

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Happy Birthday Captain Ojams! We celebrate you! Keep rocking the runway!

#Womandla

The one flaw in EVERY woman

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“Women have strengths that amaze men.

They bear hardships and they carry burdens,

but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.

They sing when they want to cry.

They cry when they are happy

and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in…

They stand up to injustice.

They don’t take “no” for an answer

when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.

They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.

They love unconditionally.

They cry when their children excel

and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about

a birth or a wedding…

Their hearts break when a friend dies.

They grieve at the loss of a family member,

yet they are strong when they

think there is no strength left…

They know that a hug and a kiss

can heal a broken heart.

Women come in all shapes, sizes and colours.

They’ll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you

to show how much they care about you.

The heart of a woman is what

makes the world keep turning.

They bring joy, hope and love.

They have compassion and ideas.

They give moral support to their

family and friends.

Women have vital things to say

and everything to give..

However, if there is one flaw in women,

IT IS THAT THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH.”

Presidential Girl- Bonolo Cebe

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This week’s contributor to the online sorority is Bonolo Cebe. She is no stranger to South African youth developers and social entrepreneurs. Bonolo,22, was the youngest Fellow in South Africa to be selected for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellowship Summit 2014. She’s an extraordinary African woman who sees beauty in everything. Her work, passion and cause is to empower the African girl child to dream beyond what her circumstances allow. She is an innovator, speak-lifer and creative soul that is operating under the assumption that everything is possible. I asked her a couple of  questions about her experiences in America, being in the White House and Women in Leadership.

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SS: What was your motivation behind entering the YALI Fellowship Summit?

BC: The Young African Leaders Initiative for me, presented a unique opportunity to develop and hone my leaderships skills as a young woman on the continent and also meet some of the most incredible young leaders who are working to write a new history for Africa through the tangible contributions they are making. Going into it my aim was to learn as much as possible from these powerful young people and collaborate in addressing some of the challenges that exist.

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SS: What  thoughts were going through your mind when you realized that you were selected for the programme?

BC: I was excited, but I knew that it was not by my might and that the glory belongs to God alone. More than anything, I was overcome by a deep gratitude because for the journey.

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SS: What was the first picture you took in America? Show us!

BC:The first (good) picture I took was at the Fayetteville Market

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SS: Besides gifts, what have you brought home with you?
Three key things: A renewed sense of purpose; Strategies for greater impact; A wider network and new friendships

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SS: Any challenges faced on your stay?
BC: The ignorance of some Americans pertaining to issues outside of America. The ignorance is real and it became rather challenging to engage with some people.

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SS. How did you overcome those challenges?

BC: Sometimes, to overcome ignorance one needs to get informed. I found myself having to invite people to have conversations that stretched and challenged their perceptions towards Africa.

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SS: Did you feel there was a strong presence of Women in Leadership in the White House, or just generally?

BC: There is a presence of women in the White House however the nature of politics is still patriarchal. Also there is still a low percentage of women running for office in America. Although there has been some progress, the top jobs in the white house are still occupied by men. One of the sessions we had during the course was on women in public office and one of the key challenges that came up is the fact that the remuneration gap is still quite big between male and females working in the same jobs.

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SS: What is the most important thing you’ll teach women of Africa, after your trip?
BC: Dear African woman: Tell your story, tell it well so that it may empower others. Leave a trail, we all got to where we are because someone showed us how they paved their own journey. Share, so that other generations may walk in greatness.

Believe.

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Thank you Bonzolezza Rice! Greater things are yet to come! Keep the light shining and the fire burning!