Queen of Soweto

The story of Basetsana Kumalo
by Mia du Plessis, Jessica Taylor, and Marli Fourie
Available at Bookdash.org and republished under a CC-BY 4.0 license


Queen of Soweto

Basetsana Kumalo is a beauty queen, but she’s also so much more. She teaches us that true beauty is about having a heart filled with love and generosity. Her story shows us that if you have courage and determination, you can achieve your dreams – whatever they may be.

Basetsana Makgalemele was born in a township called Soweto. She was her parents’ third daughter. They named her Basetsana, which means “girls”. In Tswana culture, calling your daughter that means your next child will be a boy. This actually happened. Her parents’ next child was a boy. Her parents, big sisters and younger brother all called her Bassie for short.

When she was a child, Bassie was very shy. She liked to sing and dance in her room on her own.

One day at school netball practice, the coach told two girls to pick teams. Bassie stood on the edge of the field hoping someone would say, “Come play with us!” But nobody wanted her on their team.

Little did they know, Bassie would become one of the most popular girls in the country.

On weekends, she and her brother and sisters helped their teacher mom and bus driver dad to pay the bills. They made sandwiches to sell at local soccer matches. They tried to sell everything as fast as they could so they had time to play with the other children when the game was over.

By the time Bassie turned 16, she was a beautiful young woman. She was so beautiful that she won two beauty competitions in one year: Miss Soweto and Miss Black South Africa.

But Bassie was not only beautiful on the outside. She was also beautiful on the inside. Even though she was a beauty queen, she still cared about the community where she grew up.

Bassie was also very smart. She worked hard at school, especially on her favourite subject: science. Her hard work was rewarded when she was the top science student at her school in matric. That’s not all, she was also Head Girl. The shy little girl was now one of the most popular girls in school.

Bassie’s father always encouraged his children to read. He gave her a book called The Power of Positive Thinking. From that book, she learnt that being optimistic is the key to making your dreams a reality. She dreamt of winning Miss South Africa. Not only did that dream come true, she was even crowned First Princess in the Miss World competition!

Bassie’s mother was her role model. Bassie described her mom as a “fierce, hardworking Xhosa woman who did not suffer fools”. She was a teacher and Bassie had plans to follow in her footsteps, but things don’t always go as planned! After winning Miss South Africa, she became a TV presenter. She wasn’t a teacher, but like her mom, she was hardworking. Her career in TV led to her opening her own television production company. She was now a successful business woman.

Bassie’s motto is: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” She believes that you are given a gift so that you can give to others. Bassie does this by volunteering, giving of her time and money and even creating jobs. She is involved with projects and charities to help people in her community. One that is very close to her heart is the Nelson Mandela Institute.

Bassie had a very close relationship with Nelson Mandela. When she was crowned Miss South Africa, Madiba wrote her a letter of congratulations. In the letter, he called her “our Queen”. They shared a passion for children and education and the belief that an educated nation can help fight poverty.

In 2002, Bassie married Romeo Kumalo and became known as Basetsana Kumalo.

Together they established the Romeo & Basetsana Kumalo Family Foundation. The foundation looks after orphans - children who don’t have a mom and dad.

Bassie has had to learn to balance her busy work and family life.

She has her own company called Basetsana Women Investment Holdings. She and Romeo have three children, two boys and a girl. Bassie sees her role as mother to her children as her “highest calling and greatest privilege”.

Bassie says the secret to her success is “courage, determination, passion and staying committed to the course”. Despite all her success, she remains humble while trying to make the world a better place.

Being beautiful on the outside is not what makes you a beautiful person. It’s a heart filled with love and generosity. And that’s why Bassie is our beautiful Queen.



  • generosity: willing and ready to give
  • determination: you continue trying to do something even when this is difficult
  • achieve: succeed in reaching a special goal
  • township: settlements
  • edge: a line where two surfaces meet
  • bills: document that shows how much you owe
  • matric: final year of school
  • optimistic: expecting good things to happen or something to be successful
  • role model: a person whose good actions set an example or are copied by younger people
  • fierce: extremely strong and emotional
  • follow in her footsteps: to do the same job as somebody else, especially someone in your family
  • orphans: child whose parents are dead, and no other family
  • calling: a strong desire to do a particular profession, especially one in which you help other people
  • privilege: something that you are proud and lucky to have the opportunity to do
  • committed: willing to work hard and give your time and energy to something

Ref: Google Dictionary, Oxford Learners Dictionaries, kids.wordsmyth.com, MacMillan Dictionary, Word Hippo

  • generosity: өгөөмөр сэтгэл: өгөөмөр, бэлэн байх
  • determination: Зорилго: энэ нь хэцүү үед ч гэсэн ямар нэг зүйлийг хийхийг оролдсоор байна
  • achieve: хүрэх: онцгой зорилгод хүрэхэд амжилтанд хүрнэ
  • township: Хот суурин газар: суурин
  • edge: ирмэг: хоёр гадаргуутай уулзах шугам
  • bills: үнэт цаас: хэр их өртэй болохыг харуулсан баримт
  • matric: сургуулийн сүүлийн жил
  • optimistic: өөдрөг үзэлтэй: сайн зүйл тохиолдох эсвэл амжилтанд хүрэхийг хүлээдэг
  • role model: Үүрэг загвар: Сайн үйл явдлууд нь жишээ үзүүлдэг эсвэл залуу хүмүүс хуулбарладаг
  • fierce: догшин: маш хүчтэй, сэтгэл хөдлөм
  • follow in her footsteps: Түүний алхмуудыг дагана уу: өөр хэн нэгэнтэй адилхан ажил хийх, ялангуяа гэр бүлийнхээ хэн нэгэнтэй адил ажил хийх
  • orphans: өнчин: эцэг эх нь нас барсан хүүхэд, өөр гэр бүл байхгүй
  • calling: Дуудлага: Тухайн мэргэжлээрээ, ялангуяа бусад хүмүүст туслахад тань хүчтэй хүсэл
  • privilege: Эрхэм зорилго: Та аз жаргалтай, аз жаргалтай байгаа зүйлээ хийх боломжтой
  • committed: зоригтой ажиллаж: хүчирхэг ажил хийж, цаг зав, эрч хүчийг ямар нэгэн зүйлд зориулах

Source: Translate.Google.com

  • generosity: жомарттық: беруге дайын және дайын
  • determination: егер сіз қиындық тудырса да, бірдеңе істеуді жалғастыра бересіз
  • achieve: қол жеткізу: арнайы мақсатқа қол жеткізу
  • township: елді мекен: елді мекендер
  • edge: жағы: екі беті кездесетін сызық
  • bills: вексельдер: қанша қарызды көрсететін құжат
  • matric: матрикс: мектептің соңғы жылы
  • optimistic: оңтайлы: жақсы нәрселерді немесе табысты болсын деп күту
  • role model: рөл үлгісі: жақсы іс-әрекеттері үлгі немесе адамнан көшірілген адам
  • fierce: қатал: өте күшті және эмоционалды
  • follow in her footsteps: оның ізін жалғастырыңыз: басқа біреумен, әсіресе отбасыңыздағы біреудің жұмысын орындау
  • orphans: жетім балалар: ата-анасы қайтыс болған және басқа отбасы болмаған бала
  • calling: Сізге белгілі бір мамандықты, әсіресе, басқа адамдарға көмектесуді қалайтын ниетіңіз бар
  • privilege: артықшылық: сіз өзіңізді мақтан тұтып, мүмкіндікті иеленудің сәті түсті
  • committed: күш-жігер жұмсауға және уақыт пен күш-қуатыңызды бір нәрсеге жеткізуге дайын

Source: Translate.Google.com

  • generosity: ความเอื้ออาทร: ยินดีและพร้อมที่จะให้
  • determination: ความมุ่งมั่น: คุณพยายามที่จะทำอะไรต่อไปแม้ว่าจะเป็นเรื่องยากก็ตาม
  • achieve: บรรลุ: ประสบความสำเร็จในการบรรลุเป้าหมายพิเศษ
  • township: การตั้งถิ่นฐาน
  • edge: ขอบ: เส้นที่มีพื้นผิวสองด้าน
  • bills: ตั๋วเงิน: เอกสารที่แสดงจำนวนเงินที่คุณค้างชำระ
  • matric: ปีสุดท้ายของโรงเรียน
  • optimistic: มองโลกในแง่ดี: คาดว่าสิ่งที่ดีจะเกิดขึ้นหรือสิ่งที่จะประสบความสำเร็จ
  • role model: แบบอย่าง: บุคคลที่มีการกระทำที่ดีเป็นตัวอย่างหรือถูกคัดลอกโดยคนที่อายุน้อยกว่า
  • fierce: ดุร้าย: แข็งแรงมากและอารมณ์
  • follow in her footsteps: ตามรอยเท้าของเธอ: ให้ทำงานเช่นเดียวกับคนอื่นโดยเฉพาะคนในครอบครัวของคุณ
  • orphans: เด็กกำพร้า: เด็กที่พ่อแม่เสียชีวิตและไม่มีครอบครัวอื่น
  • calling: การเรียกร้อง: ความปรารถนาดีในการทำอาชีพโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งที่คุณช่วยคนอื่น
  • privilege: สิทธิพิเศษ: สิ่งที่คุณภูมิใจและโชคดีที่มีโอกาสที่จะทำ
  • committed: มุ่งมั่น: ยินดีที่จะทำงานหนักและให้เวลาและพลังงานของคุณกับบางสิ่งบางอย่าง

Source: Translate.Google.com

  • generosity: उदारता: इच्छुक र दिन को लागी तयार छ
  • determination: दृढ संकल्प: तपाईं केहि गर्न को लागी प्रयास गर्न यो कठिन छ पनि जब जारी छ
  • achieve: हासिल गर्नुहोस्: विशेष लक्ष्यमा पुग्न सफल हुनुहोस्
  • township: बस्ती
  • edge: किनारा: एक रेखा जहाँ दुई सतहहरू मिल्दछन्
  • bills: बिलहरू: कागजात जसले तपाइँ कति तिर्नु पर्छ देखाउँछ
  • matric: म्याट्रिक: स्कूलको अन्तिम वर्ष
  • optimistic: आशावादी: राम्रो कुरा हुने आशा वा केहि सफल हुनको लागि
  • role model: रोल मोडेल: एक व्यक्ति जसको राम्रो कार्यहरूले उदाहरण सेट गर्छ वा जवान व्यक्तिद्वारा प्रतिलिपि गरिएको हुन्छ
  • fierce: क्रूर: अत्यन्त कडा र भावनात्मक
  • follow in her footsteps: उनको पाइला पछ्याउनुहोस्: अरु कसैको समान काम गर्न, विशेष गरी तपाईको परिवारमा कसैले
  • orphans: अनाथ: बच्चा जसको आमा बुबा मरिसकेका छन्, र अन्य कुनै परिवार छैन
  • calling: कल गर्दै: एक विशेष पेशा गर्ने दृढ इच्छा, विशेष गरी एक जसमा तपाईं अन्य मानिसहरूलाई मद्दत गर्नुहुन्छ
  • privilege: विशेषाधिकार: केहि चीज जुन तपाईं गर्व र भाग्यशाली हुनुहुन्छ अवसर पाउँदा
  • committed: प्रतिबद्ध: कडा परिश्रम गर्न इच्छुक र केहि गर्न आफ्नो समय र ऊर्जा दिन

Source: Translate.Google.com