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|Subject: 53rd place – Mpule Kwelagobe – Miss Universe 1999 Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:19 pm|| |
Trinidad & Tobago hosted the last Miss Universe contest of last millennium, an edition full of surprises. To the sounds and colors of Trinidad & Tobago’s famous carnival, 84 delegates from around the globe were introduced, a record number of candidates until then. Everything ran smoothly until the semi-finalists’ were announced: and surprises among those who made it, and those who didn’t, popped up like popcorns!
Miss France, Mareva Galanter of Tahiti, later elected the most beautiful Miss Universe non-finalist until 2001, caused the major shock. She was out of contention. Others were Panama’s Yamani Saied, Brazil’s Renata Fan, Colombia’s Marianella Paccini, Slovakia’s Aneta Kuklova, Israel’s Rana Raslan (the first, and so far only, Arab Israeli to win the Miss Israel title), and Bolivia’s Susana Barrientos. It was also only that second time ever that Miss USA was left out of the semi-finals.
They gave place to surprising Ghana’s Akuba Cudjoe, Jamaica’s Nicole Haughton, India’s Gul Panag (stunning face, but completely out of shape) and the delightful Diana Nogueira of Spain (a Miss Spain finalist, the winner competed in Miss World), for many, the queen of the night.
Favorites from Venezuela, Carolina Indriago, Philippines, Miriam Quiambao (like Spain, not the original winner from her country), Mexico, Silvia Salgado, and Puerto Rico, Brenda Liz Lopez, advanced next to Misses Botswana, Mpule Kwelagobe, and South Africa, Sonia Raciti, who were expected to be semi-finalists, but nothing further than that.
A new cut, and more surprises: stunning Mexico and Puerto Rico were out. Spain, Botswana, South Africa, Venezuela and Philippines continued on the competition. After interviews and the final cut, another favorite fell: Venezuela. At that point, it looked like Miss Philippines ‘had it’, but with her contagious personality, great answers, beautiful smile and exotic looks, Miss Botswana, who two years ago had been completely ignored by Miss World judges, became the first black African to be crowned Miss Universe. Philippines was 2nd, Spain was 3rd (later elected by GB the Sexiest Woman Alive and Miss Grand Slam 1999).
In the pageant that saw all odds being broken, Mpule Kwelagobe, also the first woman from her country to compete in Miss Universe, emerged as an extraordinary titleholder, recognized and honored as a human health rights activist, especially for her fight against HIV/AIDS and advocacy for youth and women to have greater access to sexual reproductive education and services.
Among the favorites who did not please the 1999 judges, at least two went on to achieve great success in their countries: Mareva Galanter became one of the most popular television presenters in France, and a singer; Renata Fan became the first woman to lead soccer discussions in Brazil, where she remains a successful tv hostess.
On a sad note, Russia’s Alexandra Petrova was brutally murdered a few years after Miss Universe 1999.
After Mpule, no other black woman won the Miss Universe title.
In 1999, the recently born Global Beauties website covered Miss Universe for the 1st time, and from then on, it has been regarded by most as one of the best and most respected pageant-related websites in the world.
Miss Universe 1999: Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations, focusing on youth and HIV/AIDS
Philippines (2nd), Botswana (Miss Universe 1999), Spain (3rd)
France: Miss Universe did not want her, but Galanter returned home to achieve great success.
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