By: Selengoane Lebaka
A 22-years-old Mosotho girl Tebello Maine scooped First Princess in Miss Africa 2018 hosted at VW Soweto on Saturday by defeating 15 of 16 contestants.
Maine was crowned First Princess with a Zimbabwean crowned Queen and a Tanzanian Second Princess in a highly anticipated showpiece hosted in South Africa. She won R20, 000 shopping vouchers and a scholarship to a business school in Sandton, South Africa.
They were also brand ambassadors of some companies in South Africa.
Maine felt disappointed on realizing how close she was to winning a brand new Volkswagen.
She believes she was crowned first Princess because of pressure.
In Miss Africa 2016, Lesotho secured a sixth position. The following year, 2017, Lesotho was named fourth position coupled with a fact that this was her first international pageant.
The pressure was evident as she had to avoid a drop.
There were 16 countries initially, most contestants spoke French thus had to learn the basics as they communicated using a sign language.
“I had already made peace with my heart that I would not make it even to the last seven. I gave up mainly because of Lesotho’s pageants history hence why I was shocked when I was called on stage qualified for yet another round. Secondly, I felt like I did not perform well enough to be in the top seven”, said Maine.
Countries were eliminated bit by bit and went home, but surprisingly Lesotho made it to the top five. It was unusual because many do not consider Lesotho as a country particularly in pageants. Even a candidate representing Lesotho in Miss World did not appear in their pictures.
Maine booked for several pageants which were consistently cancelled at a last moment. The cancelled pageants include Miss Heritage international which was to be hosted in Cambodia and changed to Mauritius which later cancelled too.
Miss Heritage universe was to be in September 2018 and was also erased a week before it started. She said after these incidents, people started calling her names.
The frustrated Maine then said if so many pageants are cancelled then God has something special in store for her.
She wrote sponsorship letters to several businesses but there was no luck. One potential sponsor ditched her at a last moment when she was to leave for the Miss Africa competition.
Maine’s parents came to her rescue and offered her money to book flights to mention a few. They even organized a donation till at their local restaurant.
A number of customers gave away their pennies to ensure that she represented Lesotho well with money a least of her worries.
Maine and her peers learnt a lot in South Africa as it is tradition that a host country organizes a team to escort pageants to familiarize them with the country’s history among others. They went to Hector Peterson museum and Mandela House in Vilakazi street Soweto and were lectured.
She is unemployed and survives solemnly on modelling, but she indicated that, passion for her sport keeps her going thus why she thrives.
“I am content with the handling of our sport in Lesotho because they try as much as possible to ensure its sustainability. One may be a beauty pageant and modeller at a same time, although it’s not the same with other countries. This is to ensure that contestants earn enough money in Lesotho at least to breach the gap in comparison to other countries,” conclude the First Princess.