[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships. In today’s column Neziswa interviews Mrs South Africa 2013, Fikile Mekgoe.[/notice]
When I was growing up it was a known fact that annually towards the end of the year our country would have a new Miss South Africa. Most girls with their mothers and (some) fathers watched as the most beautiful girl in South Africa was chosen for that year. The topic of “so will you be entering Miss South Africa” made its way into our conversations as young women. The beauty pageants had their critics though, as some felt that there is more to a woman than the way she looks and it is unfair to the rest of the women who do not quite fit the stereotypical, media-created image of what is beautiful.
As Christian women it was looked down upon and frowned upon to even consider entering a beauty competition. Part of the reservation was walking around in a bikini and putting such emphasis on looks. In our celebrity obsessed world looks and material possessions seem to be greatly prized; and how a female body is supposed to look, her ideal weight, and her fashion seem to be popular topics in our magazines and television programmes. The Christian woman is not exempt from these media- and culture-driven expectations and many feel pressure to look good and be healthy.
I have noticed a growing trend of married women who enter these beauty pageants and I wanted to find out more…
In October 2012 Fikile Mekgoe was crowned Mrs South Africa 2013!!!!!!!! She talks to me about the challenges of being Mrs South Africa; about women issues and being confident of your own body.
Before I used to think that maybe they [pageants] are wrong but having been part of the beauty pageant industry – I think 60% of it is right – I can assure you that my daughter will not enter Lol. I can imagine if I didn’t manage myself? Because that made me to do what I thought a beauty queen must do – serve. The focus on beauty pageants must really change from the management – it must really be about empowering like what Miss EARTH SA pageant does empower young girls to live for a worthy cause. A lot is happening there and if ladies who enter are not strong enough emotionally and have strong family support – pageants can break them. You need to understand that what the public see and what’s happening behind the scene is different. Remember no matter what; pageants are a business.
2. The controversial swimsuit part of a beauty pageant which is also there in Mrs South Africa some feel objectifies women. Your thoughts?
When I entered Mrs SA it was different – I wouldn’t know now, but we had options to wear a full costume and a sarong – so people like us with a preference to cover-up were accommodated. But I still don’t think it objectifies women – because it’s one’s choice really. But I prefer to cover because I am me and that is why I used a sarong. 🙂
3. Do you think confidence in how you look is important in marriage.
Confidence in how you look is important in marriage and out of marriage. It makes you feel great about yourself. Every woman must be confident! Anyone who is not confident with how they look; they always have a very low self-image and they are not pleasant to be around. So this helps you to accept yourself and see the best in you. And you become emotionally happy. The truth is that if you don’t love yourself – you will not see when your spouse loves you because you don’t believe you are worth it; because of your poor self-image. So confidence is Key…-
4. Do you think weight and looks should affect ones love for his or her spouse?
Not at All. We need to love who the person really is, not the looks because looks change and that will encourage them to look after their ideal weight. Remember the correct weight is your healthy weight not the media standards. You can’t frustrate your spouse because you want them to look like some model you’ve never met… *Laughing hard*
5. Tell me about the moment when they called your name the night you won Mrs SA. What went through your mind? Take me to that moment.
It was amazing! All that came to mind was God’s goodness and favour! Even though you enter to win but when it truly happens – you still feel – WOW all the hard work and prayers are answered. I remember looking across where my husband and family were seated. My mom crying and my husband so proud! It was truly lovely…
6. You were crowned as the first black Mrs South Africa in our country what pressure did you feel with that historical win.
All sorts of pressures. I think that made me realise that we have a lot of work to do to, to deal with the race issues. Every day I had to prove myself. And since I had to find my own press coverage, sponsor my year of reign, had to plan my own events; those were enough pressure because I expected different. I had to do everything on my own and some doors were closed because people simply won’t work with a woman of colour. I remember one magazine – refused to feature me just because I am black. But that didn’t discourage me instead made me stronger and gave birth to my next project of publishing a magazine to tell stories of women of colour who don’t have a platform.
The bottom line is every assignment has its own challenges! I had an assignment to make it work for me and for the other black women. And most importantly God never gives us assignment too big for us. With every assignment comes grace to gracefully do it. And I did it. I’m wiser and stronger!
Many woman stop dreaming when they get married. They think they can’t achieve much but I had to show them that we have to live life to the fullest at every stage we find ourselves in. Live your dreams and be all that you can be. Be who God wants you to be – The BEST YOU and shine, let your light – light up the world and when other married woman see you, they know that marriage is not the end of the world. The truth is that you can be anything the only limitation is yourself.
8. Our Black women are often advised before they get married to banyamezele (to endure whatever challenges that they might face). As a result many married black women suffer in silence as they fear judgement from family. What are your thoughts and message to married women on silence in marriage?
The question is very broad – and not only Black women are told to endure but women in general. And I think that this “Endure” has been misinterpreted because most women have been victims of abuse and had said nothing. As a Woman Activist – I have seen the need to explain to many women that covering abuse will not make it go away but will kill the essence of who they are. Speak Up and get help where necessary.
9. Tell us about the marriage Conference that you will be hosting
The marriage conference will be holding on the 31st of May 2014 – The theme is it takes you and me. There is a need for couples to invest on their marriages. May people are getting married but they don’t stay married. And something needs to be done to strengthen marriages and this is it. We have to learn and learn everyday… It will be a very beautiful and empowering session and I encourage couples to attend as we have dynamic speakers for that day.
10. What is your message to the married couples of South Africa
Love one another because Love never fails. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
It is very important to work on your love and remember it take the two of you to make your marriage to work. You will have to make it work – It’s not a miracle.
11. Tell us about your husband. How did you all meet?
Ohhhhhhhh! I still get excited talking about my Loving and supporting Husband Tshepo. The man my soul loves. He’s a great man of God who loves me… That man’s dream is to see my dreams become a reality. He prays for me and with me. He is such an honourable man. I am my husband’s Wife… Lol. Anyway – we met in church during a campaign called Reachout South Africa – He was a leader of the prison team I had joined to visit prisons in Gauteng. We became great friends and then got married
12. I can imagine you lead such a busy lifestyle. How do you make sure that you balance all the areas of your life; your marriage; work; church?
I think it’s easy God has given me the grace and it all comes natural and also planning helps a lot. If you fail to plan – you have already failed. So I prayerfully plan and have targets in that way everything becomes a walk in the park. Some days are really hectic but prayer and my husband’s help makes me calm.
13. You are also a pastor’s wife! Tell us about your church. What are the highs and lows that come with this responsibility?
I am not only a pastor’s wife I also pastor/ coordinate a church called Christ Embassy Rosebank and get a lot of inspiration from my husband. Ministry is beautiful and there are only highs of seeing lives, families and marriages changed by the word of God. Serving God has been the best thing I have ever done. And ministry changes you big time and makes you to see people through God’s eyes.
14. Tell me about your childhood in Elukwatini. What future did you envision for yourself and would you say you are living your dream
Hahaha! Wow that was a long time ago. I remember thinking that after high school I will be out of that place to follow my dreams. It was a very different place where it’s hard to dream because of the area/environment then. I had a picture of being someone I’ve never seen in that place – so had no point of reference and no mentor. I had to rely on the vision the Lord gave to me that He will make me and my name great and that I will bring so much joy to my parents. And yes I am living my dream. God has made it possible. I am changing and inspiring so many lives and that is dream I’ve always had to change one life at a time.
15. You have recently founded the Fikile Mekgoe Fundation. Tell us about it. What are some of the projects that you run?
FMF is my life. It represents the legacy of change I want to leave. I made up my mind that I want to spend my life mending broken people and giving lives a meaning and opportunities to the poorest of the poor and that is what FMF does. Fikile Mekgoe Foundation (FMF) is aimed at transforming and impacting women and children’s lives and also to influence the next generation by supporting and initiating sustainable community development efforts through empowerment (Women and Girl Child mentorship), education, domestic violence and philanthropic services.
16. You have a special love for the girl child. Tell me about your mentorship programme.
I was a young girl without a mentor and I would like to give other girls opportunities and information I never had a privilege to get and that will enable them to make right choices the first time. Also looking at the teenage pregnancy rate I believe that I truly must contribute in ensuring that we don’t have more teenage mothers who are emotionally unstable as well. So I give life skills and career guidance too. Any high school girl who’d love to be part of Girl in motion can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a believer so prayer and taking action. I believe when we pray God will give us strategies to put in place on how we deal with this. I am against abuse and rape and have campaigns but we need new ways of nailing this once and for all.
I also believe that women must report such cases. Don’t keep quiet and be a victim forever. Rape and violence is real and it’s sad that this is the number 1 cause of death in South African women and globally. Don’t cover it because if you do you will not heal.
18. What are you working on right now?
I am working 4 major projects:
- The FMF’s first education expo to be held in June,
- My online magazine concept and
- A TV show called Icon to be aired on loveworldSat TV station – we are to start with the recording soon.
- A programme for women called self Fast – a journey to finding your authentic self and living a free life. This will be launched soon as it is a campaign for the Month of May. Anyone can join to take this journey with us.
19. You last words to our readers about marriage and their relationships in general?
Marriage should be honoured by all. Honour yours and love your spouse. In relationships – you get what you put in, so make your investments and enjoy a happy love life. Don’t give up on each other – I have learnt that many people give up too quickly – DON’T! All will work out.
I pray for your marriage today. May the Lord protect it. And those who are having challenges may God give you wisdom to resolve them and grace to overcome. Your marriage will work and you will live to testify how God has loved you through your spouse. In Jesus name – Amen.
20. How can people reach you? Are you on facebook; twitter; do you have a website?
I can be reached on FB: Fikile Mekgoe, Twitter: @FikileMekgoe. My website will launched on the 11th of April and it’s www.fikilemekgoe.com