TBB Talks … The Mandela Project With Zozibini Tunzi

This five-part mini docu-series showcases the lasting legacy of Nelson Mandela 

Through impactful real-world acts of service – inspired by key elements of his story, work, and life learnings. Each 15-minute episode features one black creator/artist/talent, undertaking their chosen Act of Service bearing significance to one focused part of Mandela’s story or socially relevant theme/cause connected to his work & learnings.

Narrating the series is Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, who provides anecdotes and personal stories of the legend.

One of two female voices from the project Miss South Africa and former Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi’s episode focuses on female empowerment. Tunzi helps fellow South African Ntokozo a young female student who is celebrating her graduation, which she had to miss because of financial reasons, with a one-of-a-kind photo shoot.

We spoke to Zozibini about being a proud South African and why Nelson Mandela’s legacy means so much to her …

Please introduce yourself

My name is Zozibini Tunzi. I am Miss Universe 2019 and an advocate for Women, children and education. I am a Xhosa(tribe) woman from South Africa in the province of Eastern Cape, the same as Nelson Mandela.

Please share a word or sentence which best describes your life right now.


You are the first South African woman to win Miss Universe (2019) and are an advocate for women, children and education in what ways has the Miss Universe platform propelled your advocacy?

I am the 3rd South African woman to win Miss Universe, but the first black South African woman to do so. Through the Miss Universe platform, I was able to take this voice and mind that I already have and was able to amplify it and send it to more masses than I was able to before.

Becoming Miss Universe meant I was able to have access to rooms and people that I didn’t have before so it really assisted me in making sure that I was helping as many people as I could with my platform.

Image Credit: BBC

You have taken part in the Youtube originals series: The Mandela Project. Mandela has inspired generations of people from all over the world, as a South African woman how has his legacy impacted you?

Nelson Mandela’s legacy has impacted me in the most profound way. His legacy and fight were that of freedom and equality. As a black South African woman, I would not have had the access to the opportunities that I have today if it wasn’t for him and all the other people who fought for our freedom and a democratic South Africa. Because of his legacy, I was able to be treated like a human being, I was able to get an education and the opportunity to represent my country at Miss Universe.

How did you get involved in The Mandela Project?

I got the brief about The Mandela Project and I instantly wanted to be a part of it because it spoke so much to my values and what I believe in. I think kindness is one of the most beautiful things you can share with the world. Whatever it is that I do in my everyday life, I try to operate from a place of kindness. Nelson Mandela Day and this project are about that. It is asking us to take a moment in our day and show an act of kindness to someone who needs it. It requires us to make a positive contribution to humanity. That was enough to get me involved.

What forms of activism and self-expression do you hope to share with young South Africans and those of the diaspora?

What I want to share with young South Africans and the diaspora is to always remember that their voices matter. The world will always be the same and will never change if we do not challenge the things that we do not like about it. We are where we are today because those who came before us stood firm in their activism and challenged the system as they knew it.

They demanded change until there was. So I want to remind young people to not lose their fight and be resilient in all the things that they believe in. Let us continue to challenge all that is wrong in the world in order for us to create a world where we can all live peacefully.

Mandela’s grandson Ndaba Mandela said that it is important for all people to get involved in Mandela day especially GenZ why is it so important? How has being involved opened your mind to what the day represents?

It is very important to GenZ to partake in Mandela day because it is s reminder to them of where we come from. It is important to know where you come from because it informs where you are going. If we want to create an ideal world and South Africa then we must all know what it took to get us here in order to be motivated to want to push forward in bettering our surroundings.

Mentee Ntokozo & Zozibini Tunzi – The Mandela Project

What does Mandela and Mandela day mean to you?

Mandela Day teaches us gratitude and that you can go so far with a grateful heart. Please refer to my response on number 4 to answer what Mandela means to me. Mandela day for me means taking a pause and looking outside of myself to see how I can be instrumental in the betterment of others. A full-lived life for me is not one that just serves myself, but that of someone who has made a difference in the life of others as well.

Ndaba narrates the series and shares anecdotes and personal stories of the legend which I found quite inspiring, is there a quote from Nelson Mandela that resonates with you and culminates the legacy that you want to leave behind?

A Nelson Mandela quote that always speaks to me is “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

What is your favourite episode in the Mandela project series? How did it resonate with you?

My favourite episode on the Mandela project series is my episode with Ntokozo. It resonates with me because it tells a story of a South African black woman who rises against all odds to achieve her dream. That is something most South African young people relate to because it is our black collective story.


  • A book you have to have in your collection? A book I have to have in my collection is The Alchemist.

  • A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date? I Was Here by Beyonce. I always want to be someone who lives a full life and makes an impact in the world.

  • A film/TV show that you can watch/have watched repeatedly? It is honestly a tie between anything Marvel Universe (I don’t have a favourite there are too many masterpieces) and the Harry Potter movies, all of them in order. I never get tired.

  • The first stage production you saw and what it meant to you (play, dance, or concert)? The first stage production I ever saw was a local beauty pageant in my small time. I was a part of it and I made so many memories and friends. It was because of that that I developed a love for performance and knew that I wanted to grow up and be in the entertainment space.

  • What has made you sad, mad, and glad this week? What has made me sad this week is missing my family, what has made me mad is a dinner order delivery not arriving after waiting for what seemed like forever. I love food so I actually cried when this happened. What made me glad is getting to wake up every day and do work that I love. It’s a true blessing.

The Mandela Project is currently streaming on Youtube


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