22-year-old Sonti Rametse recently did South Africa proud by being crowned the first princess in the Miss Africa Perth competition. The event was attended by over 450 people including politicians, African elders, diplomats, fashion editors and socialites. It was truly a star-studded affair with guests treated to a red carpet arrival and photo shoot, and entertainment provided by local and international artists.
Sonti's parents moved to Australia before she was born. Her father was active in the African National Congress and they fled to Melbourne as refugees in 1985. However, when Sonti was five they went back to South Africa for four years, before returning and settling in Perth. She doesn't remember much of that time in South Africa. She lived mostly in cities, but also visited family members who lived a more rural village lifestyle. On her return she completed her schooling, went on to complete a bachelor degree in computer science and now works as a programmer. She started modelling only last year after a friend, who owns a modelling agency, persuaded her to give it a try. Apart from being runner-up in the Miss Africa Perth competition, Sonti has also modelled at the launch party of up and coming designer Betty Tran and plans to continue with the modelling, especially as being the first princess in Miss Africa Perth has opened up doors for her. Among these is the opportunity to compete with African models from elsewhere in Australia when the top three from Perth compete in the Miss Africa Australia competition. Aside from this, she is also studying part-time for a postgraduate degree in law.
Sonti's outfit for the ‘funky wear' category in the competition was designed by Perth based Taku M from Ribbon of Africa, a contemporary fashion brand established in 2006. The outfit was made of silk and tulle and inspired by the South African flag. It appeared to be one dress, with a puffy skirt, which Sonti then removed to reveal an asymmetrical dress underneath in the colours of the South African flag. She also wore Zulu attire sent to her by relatives in South Africa in the traditional wear category of the competition.
Asked what advice she would give to other young South Africans who have moved to Australia, Sonti responds: “Australia really is the land of opportunity. You have to keep pushing and pushing in terms of where you want to go, whether it is modelling or education or anything. Be passionate about what you do and follow your dreams. Anything is possible here.”