MATRIARCHS MAKE A MARK

CityPress - - Front Page - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

AFRICA’S LEAD­ING LADIES From left: Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela, for­mer pres­i­dent of Malawi Joyce Banda, Liberian Pres­i­dent Ellen John­son Sir­leaf, par­lia­men­tary Speaker Baleka Mbete, Am­bas­sador Erieka Bennett from Ghana and African Union Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the Women of Ex­cel­lence Awards on Fri­day. The event was hosted by the African Union/Di­as­pora Africa Fo­rum at the Michelan­gelo Ho­tel in Sand­ton. The six were among 15 women who were hon­oured for the roles they have played on the con­ti­nent. In her speech, Madik­izela-Man­dela said: ‘I was al­most re­duced to tears when I got this in­vite, but my tears dried up dur­ing bru­tal times of apartheid.’

Fif­teen women who have played a prom­i­nent role on the con­ti­nent were cel­e­brated as Africa’s fore­most heroines.

At a gala din­ner at the African Union (AU) Sum­mit in Sand­ton on Fri­day night, Nel­son Man­dela’s widow, Graça Machel, and Ghana’s for­mer first lady, Nana Konadu Agye­man Rawl­ings, were awarded for their con­tri­bu­tions to African so­ci­ety.

ANC stal­wart Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela, chair­per­son of the AU Com­mis­sion Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for­mer pres­i­dent of Malawi Joyce Banda and Liberian Pres­i­dent Ellen John­son Sir­leaf were also cel­e­brated as “Living Leg­ends”.

The Women of Ex­cel­lence Awards were hosted by the African Union/Di­as­pora Africa Fo­rum in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the South African gov­ern­ment and the AU Com­mis­sion dur­ing the 25th African Union Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment Sum­mit.

The awards were held at Sand­ton’s five-star Michelan­gelo Ho­tel.

“I was al­most re­duced to tears when I got this in­vi­ta­tion, but my tears dried up dur­ing the bru­tal times of apartheid,” said Madik­izela-Man­dela, who also told guests at the event that South Africans were not “xeno­pho­bic”.

“It our re­spon­si­bil­ity to unite Africa, not the things that take us back. We want unity,” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma joked that she wanted to be dis­ci­plined like Madik­izela-Man­dela be­cause she was very gov­ern­able.

“I don’t know how I’m in the same au­di­ence as Mam’Win­nie and Sir­leaf,” Dlamini-Zuma told the guests, as she re­ceived her award at the podium.

Machel said: “I’m in the pres­ence of ex­cel­lence and I ac­cept this award with hu­mil­ity.”

She ded­i­cated her award to the mil­lions of girls in Africa and around the world who do not have ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion.

While the guests were served with the main course of a duo of lamb cut­lets and chicken supreme, ac­com­pa­nied by fon­dant pota­toes, rose­mary roast veg­eta­bles and Pino­tage jus, they were en­ter­tained by jazz singer Ju­dith Se­phuma’s per­for­mance of her hit song Mme Motswadi.

Mo­ti­va­tional speaker Dr Toni Luck was the mis­tress of cer­e­monies for the night.

“I’m an African be­cause Africa is in me,” Luck told the au­di­ence.

PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH SEJAKE

PHO­TOS: EL­IZ­A­BETH SEJAKE

Nel­son Man­dela’s widow, Graça Machel, with her son, Malenga Machel, and his wife, Pa­tri­cia, at the Women of Ex­cel­lence Awards at the Michelan­gelo Ho­tel in Sand­ton, Jo­han­nes­burg, on Fri­day

Jus­tice Vic­to­ria Okobi from Nige­ria shows off her Women of Ex­cel­lence award

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