It was in 2019 during the rounds of questions at the Miss Universe contest in America that Zozibini Tunzi answered the question ‘What should we be teaching young girls, to which she famously answered, ‘I think we are the most powerful beings in the world, and that we should be given every opportunity. And that we should be teaching these young girls - to take up space”.
It is those very words that sparked a wave throughout the world where young ladies found themselves taking inspiration from the idea that they can and actually should be taking up space. It is the idea of taking up space within your workspace, educational institutions, your entrepreneurial journeys and within your communities that is not only daring but has a certain romantic feel which is self-pleasing and assuring.
Taking up space can look different to each of us and may actually require you to do things in your own way to shape the kind of future you want to see for yourself and those who will generationally follow you. Whether it's building generational wealth, looking to be a voice and pioneer in finding ways to give the youth free education or even finding innovative ways to feed those who are in need, taking up space is a daunting task but certainly worth it in the end.
It was those inspiring words from our Miss South Africa 2019 that saw her winning the crown of Miss Universe and actually going on to take up space in her own way, eventually making history and having the longest-reign to date. During her final moments on stage as Miss Universe, she mentioned; “I am reminded every day that my journey wasn’t mine alone. With that said, I want to thank you all. Thank you for welcoming me into your hearts and walking side by side with me on this very important chapter in my life. Once again, may every child who witnessed this moment believe in the absolute power of their dreams''.
Zozibini Tunzi’s story of taking up space is an inspirational one, which forms part of many other motivational examples of young individuals and particularly women who have gone on to live lives that also positively impacts those around them. We see such examples in iconic women such as Winnie Mandela and Ruth First who passionately fought against the Apartheid regime as they believed in the possibilities of a free South Africa. We also see such examples in individuals such as Nomzamo Mbatha and Tiwa Savage who show us that African talent is one worth exporting and being seen on extremely competitive international creative platforms.
These are examples of women who not only had ambitious aspirations but took it upon themselves - with the support of those who believed in their vision - and decided to be the hero in their own life stories, not only changing their own lives but motivating those around them. It is also in these ladies' stories that we see how they not only changed their present realities, but their decisions to fearlessly go after their goals has inevitably opened up doors for those who follow and look up to them.
The list of individuals who have broken up barriers to allow for future generations to run forward is endless as we can go on to speak about Mirriam Makeba, Terry Pheto, Amanda Dambuza, Black Coffee, Burna Boy, Nunu Ntshingila, Reni Folawiyo, Theo Baloyi, and Trevor Noah. In their own decisions to change the narrative of their lives, take up space and do things their own way, they’ve managed to break down barriers between their local borders and the rest of the international community. In fighting for their own goals they’ve inspired the next generation of game-changers who will go on to reach far greater heights for themselves.
It is through the simple phrase of ’taking up space’ that we are not only reminded that we are more than capable, but we’re also motivated to do things our own way, inspiring those around us. By working towards reaching our own goals and fighting through various challenges to break down barriers for generations to come, we are making the journey of future pioneers a little easier than yours. Ultimately not reaching towards our own goals but also making the world and our immediate environment a little better for future generations.
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