On May 26 1999, Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe of Botswana beat 86 delegates to winthe Miss Universe pageant, and was crowned as the 49th Miss Universe in Port ofSpain, Trinidad. Miriam Quiambao of the Philippines and Diana Noguiera of Spainplaced first and second runner up respectively. The Miss Universe Organization, par-ent company of the pageant, was owned by Donald Trump and CBS.Top right: Miss Universe 1998, Wendy Fitzwilliam of Trinidad and Tobago,crowning Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana as Miss Universe 1999 in Cha-guaramas, Trinidad. It was the first and only time in Miss Universe 60-year his-tory to have black to black winners.Below: 19 year old Mpule overlooking Port of Spain, Trinidad the morning after be- ing crowned Miss Universe. Later that day, she received the Freedom of the City Key to Port of Spain from the government of Trinidad & Tobago. She was also awarded Freedom of the City keys to Gaborone (Botswana), Asuncion (Paraguay) and New Orleans (Louisiana). During her reign as Miss Universe, Mpule traveled to over 20 countries in Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Europe representing the official cause of the Miss Universe Organization, HIV/AIDS, and serving as a spokesmodel for the pageant’s sponsors including Mikimoto, Clairol, Sa- sha Cosmetics, Sacha Shoes London, Speedo, Oscar De La Renta Swimwear and Sprint among others.Middle right: Official portrait of Miss Universe 1999. Mpule Kwelagobe was thefirst woman to represent Botswana at the Miss Universe pageant, and made his-tory as the 1st African-born black woman to ever win an international pageant.As Miss Universe, Mpule appeared on ABC,CBS, NBC, FOX and CNN and guest hostedBack to Back Music Videos on VH-1.She evenmodeled during New York Fashion Week at Bry-ant Park. After her reign as Miss Universe, Mpulewas signed as a spokesmodel by CLAIROL. Herads were featured in dozens of US magazines.Immediate right: Mpule’s CLAIROL ad as itappeared in Ebony Magazine. She launched theMPULE Foundation in November 2000 at aceremony attended by Nelson Mandela, and be-gan touring Botswana fighting against HIV/AIDS, promoting positive behavioral changeamong youth and championing access to sexualand reproductive rights for women and youth. In2006, Mpule graduated from Columbia Univer-sity in the City of New York with a degree in International Political Economy. In2011, she founded the MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development, a NewYork City based advocacy and public policy think tank.Bottom right: Mpule crowned Lara Dutta of India as her successor in June 2000in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe was born on 14 November 1979, in Gaborone, Bot-swana, the third and youngest child of Justice Mothusi Kwelagobe and DibelangMontshosi Kwelagobe.At age 17 Mpule became the youngest woman to win the Miss Botswana pageantwhile still in high school. She represented Botswana at the 1997 Miss World pageantheld on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles. Two years later she won the inaugural Miss Universe Botswana pageant held at the Grand Palm Hotel in Gaborone, and in May became the first woman to represent Botswana at the Miss Universe pageant held in Trinidad & Tobago. Left: Mpule Kwelagobe, the first Miss Universe Botswana flanked by first and second runners up, Aalimah Isaacs and Mataila Sik- wane. Top right: Mpule during a photoshoot in the Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana.Following Mpule’s win of the Miss Universe pageant, Botswana Post launched 5historic postage stamps of her. The Government ofBotswana bestowed diplomatic status on Mpule andawarded her the Freedom of the City key to Gaborone,capital city of Botswana, and a full scholarship to anyuniversity of her choice around the world. In 2002,Mpule was accepted into ivy league institution, Colum-bia University in the City of New York, and graduatedin May 2006 with a degree in Political Science(International Political Economy). Immediate right: one of Mpule’s Postage stamps.Middle right: Mpule Kwelagobe, Miss Botswana 1999, in her traditional cos-tume during the Parade of Nations opening ceremony at the 1999 Miss Universepageant.In 2000, Mpule was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by the United NationsPopulation Fund (UNFPA), which partnered with the MPULE Foundation to ad-dress health systems, in particular HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health, in Botswana. Immediate left: Mpule at the United Nations meeting of Goodwill Am- bassadors and Messengers of Peace in New York City in 2002 with Kofi Annan, secre- tary-general of the United Nations. Today as an Ethnoscientist, Mpule heads the MPULE Institute for Endogenous Devel- opment, a New York City-based policy advocacy think tank that engages in re- search on traditional knowledge systems (TKS) and how they inform endogenous development, green growth and genderequality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) in Africa. In 2012 the MPULE Insti-tute launched “In Women’s Hands: Empowering the Next Generation of Afri-can Female Leaders” campaign to advance gender equality in agricultural and ruraldevelopment in Africa.Bottom right: Mpule dancing with traditional dancers on the banks of theChobe River in Kasane after being crowned Miss Universe.