WENDY LUHABE HITS 60 IN STYLE

CityPress - - News - GAYLE ED­MUNDS ged­munds@city­press.co.za

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.

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.”

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.

PHOTOS: TEBOGO LETSIE

BOT­TOMS UP Kamo­gelo Mahlangu sur­veys Sibu­siso Malaza’s tast­ing tech­nique af­ter a crash course UN­VEILED Chivas Re­gal re­vealed the process of how Ultis is lov­ingly crafted from five sin­gle malts

PHOTOS: 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 SOUL SIS­TERS Bwasa board mem­ber and ac­tor Rami Chuene with Ju­dith Se­phuma, who was one of the sur­prises at the lunch. Se­phuma joined Rami on stage, to the de­light of the guests

WOMEN ON TOP Sa­sol’s Nolitha Fakude with Bwasa chair and KPMG part­ner Farzanah Mall

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