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A legend turns 60

Jun 04 2017 12:11
Gayle Edmunds

POWER PLAYERS Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma with Wendy Luhabe and Happy Ralinala at Emoyeni, where 60 women gathered to celebrate Luhabe’s birthday and her contribution to mentoring countless young women into business success. Picture: Gayle Edmunds

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Johannesburg - At Emoyeni in Parktown on a sunny Joburg winter’s day, 60 women gathered to celebrate mentor and businesswoman Wendy Luhabe’s 60th birthday – and her living legacy in the space of women empowerment.

Organised by the Businesswomen’s Association of SA (Bwasa), it was an inspiring affair with an array of speakers from across the spectrum who echoed the words of Sasol’s Nolitha Fakude, the MC for the bash, who said: “She is phenomenal because she is courageous ... she’s phenomenal because she is an overcomer.”

The room boasted power players such as Travel With Flair’s Johanna Mukoki, 67 Blankets’ Carolyn Steyn, Barclays Africa’s Happy Ralinala, presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and representative for UN women’s SA multicountry office Anne Githuku-Shongwe.

Dlamini-Zuma kept a low profile, sitting next to the guest of honour and posing for an array of selfies, but otherwise staying off the podium.

READ: ANC leader race down to Dlamini-Zuma and Ramaphosa - Bloomberg survey 

The guest list also emphasised the next generation of leading women, with Luhabe’s adopted daughter Maruva Munyati expressing the sentiment shared by the room:

“May the seeds of generosity you have sown over your lifetime be a harvest for your children’s children and their children’s children.”

One of the luncheon’s most shareable moments – and everyone got out their tissues and smartphones – was when award-winning jazz performer Nomfundo Xaluva invited actor Rami Chuene to accompany her in a song.

Chuene, in turn, invited superstar Judith Sephuma to join them.

Soon the room was standing arm-in-arm, singing and crying and celebrating the unity that every speaker had called for – for women to rise, to borrow the words of the great Maya Angelou.

In her speech, Luhabe reiterated the call for women to stand in unity: “Our women are being called to do what needs to be done in light of what is going on. I wake up every day to [hear of] another dead woman somewhere.

“Mothers, be mindful parents of what kind of boys we are bringing into the world. What kind of girls? We want to live in an equal world; they won’t find their way there on their own.”

The joke of the event was how youthful Luhabe looks, which she attributes not to the knife, her diet or the gym, but to a “peaceful heart. I hold no grudges and have no regrets.”

READ: International Women's Day: We are all wonderwomen! 

As part of the call for women to give each other a hand up, Bwasa asked for donations for its newly created student chapter.

With help from Chuene, who did a hilarious impression of a TV evangelist encouraging her congregation to give, R330 000 was raised for the fund before lunch was even served.

Luhabe got the pledging started, putting in R100 000. Steyn added R67 000 to the pot in reference to her project 67 Blankets, while Dlamini-Zuma added R10 000.

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