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First black model to represent SA at Miss World: Is she alive? Where is Cynthia Shange now?

Cynthia Shange: Pioneering South Africa’s Beauty Scene and Beyond

In 1972, Cynthia Shange made history as the first black woman to represent South Africa at the prestigious Miss World pageant. While not holding the title of Miss SA, Shange’s journey to Miss World was a unique one, marked by her success as Miss Africa South.

Born in Lamontville, KwaZulu-Natal, Cynthia started her modeling career in 1970. Her victory in the Miss Natal competition paved the way for her to become Miss Africa South, granting her the opportunity to compete on the international stage during the era of apartheid in South Africa.

Cynthia’s story is distinct, as she was not a Miss SA titleholder but held the Miss Africa South title. Her pioneering spirit laid the groundwork for future generations of black women in the beauty industry.

After her pageant days, Cynthia Shange ventured into acting, leaving an indelible mark on South Africa’s film and television landscape. In 1975, she starred in “Udeliwe,” South Africa’s first black feature film, and later appeared in the iconic “Shaka Zulu” in 1986, among other shows.

Her most recognizable role came as MaNkosi Buthelezi, the mother of Thandaza, in SABC 2’s “Muvhango.” This role showcased her talent and solidified her place in the hearts of South African audiences.

Beyond her achievements, Cynthia Shange’s personal life has seen her marry professional soccer player and journalist Derrick Thema. A mother of four—Banele, Sihle, Archie, and Nonhle—she has gracefully embraced various roles in both her professional and personal life.

At 74 years old, Cynthia Shange continues to make appearances, notably on her daughter Nonhle Thema’s Instagram account. While she may have stepped out of the limelight, her impact on South Africa’s beauty scene and the entertainment industry remains an enduring legacy.

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