As Angola’s Leila Lopes made history for her country yesterday, after becoming the very first Miss Angola to be crowned Miss Universe, we just thought we’d take you down a memory lane to have a look at former African titleholders of Miss Universe and Miss World pageants.
As you scroll down, you will see the scarcity of black queens, but hopefully Leila, the only other black African winner of the title Mpule Kwelagobe from Botswana and Nigeria’s own Miss World 2001, Agbani Darego all harbingers of a time to come where we will see more African beauties crowned as Miss World or Miss Universe.
Antigone Constanda, Egypt – Miss World 1954
Antigone Constanda was enjoying her life as a young model in her native Egypt, but it was when she walked away with the glittering Miss World crown in 1954 that her career was catapulted to an international level. Modelling assignments in the Middle East, France, Italy and Greece followed fast for the girl who remains to this day the only African Egyptian to win an international beauty pageant.
Antigone continued to model for many years – and was a favourite of many photographers. She gave up life in front of the camera to pursue her other love, interior design, and today runs her own specialist design business.
Penelope Anna Coelen, South Africa – Miss World 1958
The striking young secretary won hearts around the world and received several lucrative modeling offers but after her reigning year, she headed off to Hollywood try her luck on the silver screen.
Penelope went to Hollywood and was taught acting by film star James Garner. She returned home where she married, developed a highly-successful sugar plantation, and achieved success as a lecturer, guest speaker, author and television star. Today she runs her own guest house and has five sons and three granddaughters.
Anneline Kriel, South Africa – Miss World 1974
Anneline Kriel is a South African model and actress. She won the 1974 Miss World contest at age 19, representing South Africa, after UK’s Helen Morgan had resigned only four days after her victory. She became the second woman from her country to win the title. The pageant was held in London, United Kingdom.
She also starred in the international hit-film, Kill and Kill Again which debuted at no.2 at the US Box Office.
Margaret Gardiner, South Africa – Miss Universe 1978
Margaret Garidner from Woodstock, South Africa is the winner of the Miss Universe pageant in 1978. She was 18 years old when she won the pageant. During the event held in Acapulco, she received her crown from Janelle Commissiong, the first black titleholder of the pageant.
She is now working as a print and television journalist in Los Angeles.
Michelle McLean, Namibia – Miss Universe 1992
A Namibian model and philanthropist, Michelle McLean was crowned Miss Universe in 1992. She also finished in the top 5 in the Miss World 1991 pagent. Since that time she founded Michelle McLean Children’s Trust in Namibia which focuses on the education and care of underprivileged children.
Mpule Kwelagobe, Botswana – Miss Universe 1999
Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe of Gaborone, Botswana was crowned Miss Universe in May of 1999 in Trinidad and Tobago. Like Angela Visser, the Kwelagobe participated in the Miss World pageant (in 1997) but did not place. She was the first Miss Universe Botswana and the first Miss Botswana to participate in the Miss Universe pageant.
Since being crowned Miss Universe 1999, Mpule has been recognized and honored as a human health rights activist, especially for her fight against HIV/AIDS and advocacy for youth and women to have greater access to sexual reproductive education and services.
Agbani Darego, Nigeria – Miss World 2001
In November 2001, Darego was crowned Miss World, beating Miss Scotland and Miss Aruba in the final round. Her victory in the pageant was widely welcomed in her home country, and her one year tenure included goodwill trips and scheduled appearances on behalf of the pageant.
Darego was honoured as an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) after her win as Miss World in 2001. The Nigerian National honours are awarded to Nigerians whom have rendered services to the benefit of the nation. In 2002-2004 she was a spokesperson for L’Oréal cosmetics, and is now promoting Arik Airlines.by