LESOTHO’S representative at the 2021 Africa Pageant, Rethabile Letsoepa dreams of becoming a beauty queen with a purpose and hopes to start projects to assist the less fortunate.
Aside from modeling, Letsoepa is a bookkeeper at Drivers Training Centre in Leribe and is awaiting the National University of Lesotho’s (NUL) August intake to enroll for a Nursing and Midwifery course.
The 19-year-old told the Weekender on Monday that she was encouraged by her Computer Studies teacher, Tsheli Sootho to start modelling as early as 2013. However, she only gathered the courage to contest in pageants during her final year at Butha-Buthe High School in 2017.
“I took part in the Miss Butha-Buthe High School 2017 edition and was crowned queen,” Letsoepa said adding: “That was the happiest day of my life”.
That same year, she was crowned Miss Valentine’s at Crocodile Inn Hotel (Butha-Buthe) and Miss North’s Finest in Peka. She however, came second in the Miss Teen Butha-Buthe pageant.
Letsoepa said by participating in the Miss Valentine’s contest, she realised that she “needed to become a beauty queen with a purpose and not be in pageants for fame”. This made her desire to do more to help others as opposed to spending large sums of money on makeup artists and photo shoots.
“I wanted to give back to my community by way of donating to the needy and in order to achieve that, I had to join bigger pageants,” Letsoepa said.
She came second in the Face of Lesotho 2018, a platform through which she was able to find sponsors to fund her career. Letsoepa also took part in Machabeng College’s fashion show later that year.
Having started her first year of Nursing at Xuzhou Medical University in China in 2018, Letsoepa returned home in April 2019 for personal reasons.
Returning home allowed her to focus once again on pageants while awaiting to reapply at a new school and she took the opportunity to join Africa Pageant in December 2019.
Miss Africa is held by Africa Pageants, a continental modeling company. The Africa Pageant has five categories in particular, namely: Mrs Africa, Mrs Africa Classic, Ms Africa Elite, Ms Africa and Miss Africa.
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Letsoepa was in February this year announced one of the 25 finalists in the Miss Africa category. The models are all aged 18 to 24 years.
She says all the competitions that she has participated in have helped her grow.
“I joined beauty pageants because they give me the perfect platform to help those in need and I’m looking forward to smiles on people’s faces,” Letsoepa said.
In 2018 Letsoepa donated clothes to children in Tsikoane during the Face of Lesotho pageant week and provided hand sanitisers to taxi drivers in Butha-Buthe in March 2020 on the back of the coronavirus outbreak.
For her part, Carolyn Botha, the chief executive officer of Pageants SA (South Africa), said the participants help to promote tourism in their African countries.
“Africa Pageants wants to emphasise the splendor of African landmarks through their brand and magnificent title holders.
“These women shine globally while they showcase the splendor of our beautiful African continent to the world,” Botha said.
She added that the legacies of winners are set through humanitarian work done through the Africa Pageants Foundation.
Botha said they are hoping to host the 2021 Africa Pageant from 12 to 22 November 2020 in the North West Province.