Kerishnie Naiker was born in Durban, South Africa. She attained an Honours Degree in Pharmacy and practiced as a senior pharmacist in hospital and retail pharmacy. She was studying towards her Masters in Pharmacy Practice researching "The Social and Behavioural Factors Affecting Tuberculosis in South Africa" in 1997, when she became Miss South Africa.
Kerishnie Naiker entered the Miss South Africa pageant with the intention of bringing the ethnicity of the large Indian population in South Africa to the public eye. Being the only successful Indian in this competition continues to remain significant for the Indian population in South Africa. Kerishnie Naiker was the first Miss South Africa in 14 years who chose to compete in the Miss Universe pageant (due to apartheid) and thus became the first Miss South Africa to participate in both international pageants thereby setting the trend for her successors. She placed 7th and 4th at the Miss Universe and Miss World 1998 Pageants respectively.
As of 1998, Kerishnie Naiker worked for the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) as a continuity presenter and has on a weekly basis over a number of years presented several lifestyle, magazine and cultural television programmes such as "Eastern Mosaic". She was the anchor of "Amstel Salute to Success", a programme showcasing successful South Africans, broadcast on eTV in 2005. She has presented the Assagai Awards, the Kora All Africa Music Awards, the Model of the Year and the Miss South Africa Pageant. On behalf of the American based TV network, BET International, she has covered the 28th Annual International Association of Jazz Educators Conference in New York and the 2001 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. She has also been the South African TV anchor for BET International covering events such as the North Sea Jazz Festival.
Kerishnie Naiker has worked frequently as interviewer of national and international public personalities, e.g. Nelson Mandela, Luciano Pavarotti, President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, Danny Glover, George Benson, Neena Freelon and many South African political leaders. She has shared the podium with the likes of Richard Branson, Cherie Blair and Seal to name a few.
On behalf of the United Nations, Kerishnie Naiker produced the Voices Forum at the 2001 World Conference against Racism and conducted the interviews for the subsequent documentary. She directed and co-produced a documentary on the plight of Tuberculosis in Southern Africa for Sanofi-Aventis.
Kerishnie Naiker has performed regularly as speaker and Master of Ceremony for numerous companies and NGO's such as Abbott, Anglogold, British Petroleum, Canon, DaimlerChrysler, First National Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Hyundai, Sasol, Merck, Microsoft, Reckitt Benckiser, Murray & Roberts, Sahara, Sanofi-Aventis, Siemens, South African Airways, Lexmark, Total, South African Breweries, CANSA, Spar, Sun International, Unilever, Vodacom, BET International, Pick 'n Pay, Standard Bank, The Shoprite Group, FASA, Computer Associates Africa, UNICEF, NOAH, Vodacom Foundation and the Smile Foundation.
Kerishnie Naiker was assigned chair judge of the Miss South Africa pageant for several years, up until 2004, with the objective of ensuring the high reputation and ambassadorial representation of such title in South Africa.
The Kerishnie Naiker Welfare Initiative (KNWI) focuses on social and human development by way of healthcare (eg Tuberculosis, Cleft Lip and Palate, Head Injuries, Dialysis, AIDS, Cardiac, Nutrition, etc), welfare and education. The KNWI does not accept any monetary funding, rather partners appropriate donors and beneficiaries. Kerishnie has, through the KNWI, worked closely with former President, Nelson Mandela, on several projects contributing to reconstruction and development in South Africa.
Kerishnie has initiated and facilitated the building of The Chatsworth Youth Centre, several hospitals and nine Tuberculosis Resource Centres throughout South Africa - with Nelson Mandela as patron, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, the South African Government and global corporations like DaimlerChrysler, Nandos, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis and Reckitt Benckiser as sponsors. She has facilitated the agreement between Gauteng Department of Health, Altech and the Vodacom Foundation to establish an AIDS Centre for Specialised Services within the Hillbrow Health Precinct.
Kerishnie Naiker assists numerous charitable organizations. She is a board member of the Vodacom Foundation, is a founding trustee of The Chatsworth Youth Centre Trust and is a board member of the Smile Foundation.
“Life is a dialectical journey which cannot be positive all the time. It is pain and pleasure, like night and day, it is happiness and sadness. May we acknowledge the duality of life, living our lives in gratitude, realising that judgement creates separation and that we cannot live our lives in condemnation. Let us embrace the lessons of the past, live for today and look forward to the future knowing that we cannot go through life in anaesthesia.”
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