MASERU — Lieketseng Nkune, a stunning National University of Lesotho (NUL) student, is in Nigeria to take part in the third Miss University Africa pageant next month.
The pageant will be held at the Gloryland Cultural Centre in Yenagoa, Bayelsa, Nigeria on March 5.
The competition will come immediately after a 14-day boot camp.
Nkune, 19, left Maseru for Nigeria last Friday.
She was selected to replace the first choice Thato Phakela who withdrew for personal reasons.
She becomes the second Mosotho to take part in the non-bikini competition.
Last year a local company, Rajoc, sent Nomasondo Mphakisoane to take part in the competition.
Nkune is being sponsored by two local companies, AfriDenim and Machabeng Bookshop.
A spokesman for Rajoc, Tlali Tlali, told Xpress People that they had to enter Nkune as a replacement because Phakela was not available.
“Thato announced in January that she would not be able to participate at the 2011 Miss University Africa after she was selected from a group of local models to represent Lesotho at the international pageants,” Tlali said.
“We then looked through our records and Lieketseng was confirmed.”
He said while Nkuene had only one national crown under her belt she was confident that she “will make Lesotho proud” at the Nigeria competition. “She underwent crucial training to prepare her for the international pageant, so I am confident,” Tlali said.
Tlali said it was proving hard to put Lesotho pageants on the international stage because of a shortage of funds.
“We struggled to find funding for Lieketseng. Local companies are not giving us much support. But we however thank those that assisted,” he said.
In an interview before she left the country, Nkune said she was both excited and scared by the challenge at hand.
“I’m overwhelmed. But I’m also very excited to have been given an opportunity to represent Lesotho in Nigeria. I’m very scared of the pressure.
“I am going to battle out with over 40 girls for the Miss University Africa Crown,” she said.
She said she is confident that she will make it for the final cut.
“I was crowned Miss Girl Guide in 2006 and in 2007 I won Miss St Mary’s pageant, the same year I was also crowned Miss High Schools. So I believe I have a chance,” Nkuene, who stands at an impressive 1.7 metres, said.
Nkuene together with 40 other beauties will be part of a 14-day boot camp where they will take part in charity work at local hospitals and orphanages in Nigeria.
Tlali said the Miss University Africa pageant is aimed at rewarding beauties with brains and help them discover their full potential.
“We are trying to get Lesotho involved in international pageants to motivate the girls and let them see the light of becoming international models,” Tlali said.