AN AFRICAN beauty has finally overthrown the Latin empire.

Miss Angola Leila Lopes was crowned Miss Universe on September 12, becoming the 4th African woman to win the title. The Donald Trump-owned beauty pageant marked its 60th anniversary as 89 women battled for the title in São Paulo, Brazil.

The African victory has not received much publicity in South Africa, even though the president of the Miss Universe organisation, Paula Shugart, compared the beauty contest to worldwide sports events.

“They [World Cup, Olympics and Miss Universe] are all the same thing. You are bringing people from all around the world to celebrate each other and their host country.

“Every woman that competes is the embodiment of national pride,” Shugart said.

In the past decade seven contestants from Latin America have been crowned. But the self-proclaimed “world championship of beauty” has not seen many African or black winners throughout its history.

Only three other countries on the African continent have taken the title: Botswana (1999), Namibia (1992) and South Africa (1978).

The first black African to win Miss Universe was Mpule Kwelagobe from Botswana. This year the 25-year-old business student from Benguela was the only African candidate who made it to the top 16.

Most comments on South African news pages are about African pride. “I’m proud of you girl and you make Africa proud. What a lovely time for Africa,” one reader commented on IOL news.

When asked by the judges which one of her physical characteristics she would like to change, Lopes replied:

“Thank God I’m very well satisfied with the way that God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Shortly after her victory, the new pageant titleholder said that as Miss Angola she has already done a lot for her people working with social causes.

Now her reign will be devoted to fighting HIV and Aids and poverty  – big African concerns.