#Nostalgia: Miss Universe 1999 Mpule Kwelagobe

What does Anne Lena Hansen, Michelle McLean and Mpule Kwelagobe have in common? Well, they all failed in winning the Miss World title only to bag other prestigious international crowns on their second attempt.
Mpule is a success story from Africa. She was the first black African to win the Miss Universe title, the first woman to win two national titles in Botswana and the youngest woman to win the Miss Botswana title at the age of 17 years old.
Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe first won the Miss Botswana title while being barely out from high school. That year she flew to compete in the Miss World 1997 pageant in Seychelles where she failed to even crack the semis. It was India’s Diana Hayden who romped away with the blue crown.

A couple of years later, she joined the inaugural Miss Universe Botswana pageant and won once again. Competing in Miss Universe 1999, Mpule was an underdog who rarely got noticed by pageant fans. She, however, delivered consistently during the finals night which saw her besting 84 other girls for the title. Mpule’s win became the first Miss Universe to come from a debuting nation since 1958.
As Miss Universe, Mpule  traveled to more than 20 countries in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean representing the official cause of the Miss Universe Organization, HIV/AIDS. She also became a spokes-model for the brand Clairol.
Mpule was also appointed by the United Nations as one of its Goodwill Ambassadors focusing mainly on youth and HIV-AIDS issues.
After her reign she had put on a number of hats including that of a human health rights activist, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, politician, businesswoman, model, and wife. Her government awarded her full scholarship to attend any university she wanted and took a Political Science degree (International Political Economy) at the Columbia University in New York City (Ivy league university).
Since then Mpule has been active in her advocacies and charity work focusing on developing the poor in Africa. She has undoubtedly become one of the most respected Miss Universe in history.


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