An ecstatic Mrs Vietnam was crowned Mrs Universe in a glittering event at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) last night (2 September 2017).
43-year old Tram Hoang Luu burst into tears as last year’s winner, Olga Tornor from Austria, handed over the crown at the 40th Annual Mrs Universe pageant, held for the first time in Africa.
Mrs Vietnam triumphed over 84 international contestants to clinch the coveted title.
“I am so amazed. I did not expect to win when I came here this evening because all the contestants are such incredible women,” says the new Mrs Universe, Luu. This evening is just fantastic – I’m enjoying every moment!” Luu thanks South African and particularly Durban for its warm hospitality saying the people are so friendly and she is going to miss being here.
Mrs Gabon, Gwen Madiba Moubouyi was named First Runner-Up and Mrs Pakistan, Taiba Noorulian Sheheryar was Second Runner-up.
Mrs France, Anastasia Gorshkova and Mrs India, Shaveta Athwal, rounded off the top five. South Africa was represented by Durban wife and mum, Trisha Poona, who was placed in the top 25. Poona was the audience favourite, receiving huge applause and encouragement whenever she appeared on stage.
“Let tonight be the night that Durban remembers as being the night that brought the world to our doorstep. Let tonight be the night that Africa celebrates its women and women empowerment,” says Tracey-Anne Aggett, the woman who was responsible for bringing Mrs Universe to Africa for the first time. As Mrs Universe Hosting Director: Africa, Aggett had campaigned tirelessly to bring the activist-themed event to South Africa and to use it as a platform to draw attention to the global scourge of violence against women and children.
“We are extremely humbled by the support we’ve received to stage this event on African soil for the first time. Each of the contestants here tonight is a winner – for overcoming incredible odds to succeed and for making meaningful contributions to their respective communities to bring about positive change.”
Ethekwini Deputy Mayor, Fawzia Peer, echoed those sentiments when she officially welcomed guests to the pageant. “As women, we must continue to hold each other’s hands and celebrate our successes,” she said, adding “We need to see more women rising to positions of power in business, politics and academia.”
The glitzy Mrs Universe World Finals attracted the who’s who of KZN’s social scene. Guests were entertained by proudly KZN performers including the C-Live dancers, the Champions Pantsula Dancers, performers from the Kumari Shiksha Dance Institute, Indlondlo Zulu Traditional Dancers and Dangerous Curves dancers. Vocalists, Samantha Landers, Bongekile Mabaso and Nokulunga Ntuli had feet tapping and heads bobbing. The show was produced and choreographed by one of KZN’s most celebrated entertainers, Clive Gumede aka The Durban Divo.
Since jetting into Durban on 25 August 2017, the 86 finalists have had a jam-packed, whirlwind schedule of work and play that put the international spotlight firmly on South Africa. In addition to visiting a few must-see tourist spots in the greater Durban area and sampling the city’s array of culinary offerings, contestants dedicated their time to numerous CSI and women empowerment initiatives. This included visiting schools to speak to young girls about the importance of education and to inspire pupils with personal stories of overcoming incredible challenges, to spending a morning with orphaned and vulnerable children at Liv Village in Verulam, to taking to the streets of Durban for the #OneVoice march against gender-based violence and child abuse.
Unlike other similar events, Mrs Universe is a women empowerment initiative that acknowledges married women between the ages of 25 and 45 who are doing phenomenal work to uplift and enhance their local communities through CSI initiatives, business development and global trade opportunities.
“Our heartfelt thanks goes out to our sponsors who have made this first-for-Africa event possible, “ says Aggett. “They are Arctic Club, Beluga, Blythedale Coastal Estate, Chicken Xpress, Cubana, Dax Martin Luxury Swim, Elan Property Group, Ethekwini Municipality, Extramarks, Fabric & Bridal, Gerald Wells Hair & Beauty Professionals, HEH Signs, Kryolan, Le-Fem, Phezulu Safari Park, Pura Beverage Company, Red, Riverside Hotel, Serendipity Travel, Sir Fruit, Skye Radio, Soda & Sand, Stabus, Sunlife Vitamins, Taco Zulu, Take Note Trading 61, uShaka Marine World, Vision Division, Vodacom and Weekend Witness. We couldn’t have done it without you!”
The contestants begin heading home from today.
Images: Abhi Indrarajan