Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday.
Tunzi will be the president’s guest at the annual opening of parliament.
“I feel privileged to be invited to such an important South African event,” Tunzi said.
As she touched down in her home town of Tsolo in the Eastern Cape on Saturday, she was reunited with her father Lungisa Tunzi, mother Philiswa Nadapu and sisters Yanga, Sibabalwe and Ayakha.
After receiving a rapturous welcome, Tunzi said she couldn’t wait to taste her mother’s umngqusho – a local delicacy of samp and beans.
She also said she can’t wait to tuck into Nando’s chicken as there’s none in New York, which has been her home since she was crowned Miss Universe in December.
“I have missed my family so much. I miss the food, the music and our rich culture. There’s something about home that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world.
“While I have been in New York, I have longed for two things: sunshine and the voices of African people raised in song,” said the beauty.
Tunzi’s week-long homecoming tour features street parades in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Mthatha.
Yesterday, she attended the unveiling of a mural that has been painted in her honour at a local library before filling up Mthatha Stadium.
Today, Tunzi will be accompanied by her mother as she visits her primary school, Canaan Academy, in Dutywa.
Some of her former grade 1 and 2 classmates are expected to attend. “The support of my family has been crucial to my success,” Tunzi said.
“My mom has taught me the importance of remaining kind and humble, and always being helpful to those around me.
“My father has taught me the importance of education, hard work and discipline. Most importantly, they have equally moulded me to be who I am today.”
Afloat shaped like a throne that resembles her Miss Universe crown and wrapped in ribbons in the colours of the South African flag will be Tunzi’s mode of transport during her street parades.