Sunday Times

Hay, don’t say nay — this was the pukka chukka


● Other polo tour­na­ments might be just an ex­cuse to party, but the African Polo Open es­chews the rent-acrowd for a more swish set.

The con­ti­nen­tal horse-mounted team event was held last Sun­day at the sprawl­ing Rose­field Polo Club grounds in Cen­tu­rion, Gaut­eng.

The event is the brain­child of Masedi and Kgo­motso Molosiwa, who I meet mo­ments af­ter ar­riv­ing.

“You’ll be glad to know we are serv­ing canapés this year,” says Kgo­motso, cheek­ily re­fer­ring to my lament last year about the lack of wel­come snacks.

On cue, wait­ers prof­fer trays of minia­ture tacos, veg tartlets and Namib­ian oys­ters as I make my way in­side the stylish mar­quee.

That is where Masedi in­tro­duces me to the act­ing Nige­rian high com­mis­sioner, Adamu Bako, who, sport­ing a base­ball cap, is a tad un­der­dressed for this most chic of out­ings.

Then it’s hello to a cou­ple I’ve not seen in ages: busi­ness­man Moss Mashishi and his wife Tsholo.

Tsholo, who is fin­ish­ing her sec­ond de­gree, tells me she will soon re­turn to our TV screens, this time not as a news­reader but as an ac­tress on an soapie.

Next I meet a man who can proudly claim to have turned down the Gup­tas: Isaac Shongwe of Let­sema Con­sult­ing.

Let­sema was in­fa­mously dropped by McKin­sey as its BEE part­ner at Transnet in favour of Reg­i­ments and then Tril­lian, back in 2012. Isaac shakes his head as he re­calls the strange turn of events.

“They tried to buy my com­pany and so I made up a ridicu­lous amount and they still said ‘yes’. That’s when you know some­thing is wrong,” said the busi­ness­man, there with his wife Khumo.

Sir, I’m sure jus­tice Zondo would find your story fas­ci­nat­ing …

Sit­ting down to lunch, I find my­self in equally in­trigu­ing com­pany: on my right is Le­bo­gang Mon­t­jane, the head of the In­de­pen­dent Schools As­so­ci­a­tion, who brought along his daugh­ter Ra­madimetja. Across from me is pow­er­house cou­ple Andile Mazwai, who gave up a lu­cra­tive ca­reer as a stock­bro­ker to run the Na­tional Stokvel As­so­ci­a­tion, and his wife, Mondo, a mem­ber of the Com­pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal.

As we tuck in to starters in­clud­ing spring­bok carpac­cio, smoked salmon ros­tis and a yummy ar­ti­choke, quinoa and bur­rata cheese salad, we are joined by a man with­out whom the day’s match would not have hap­pened.

That’s Kwame Awuah-Darko, who, as well as run­ning Ghana’s big­gest oil re­fin­ery, boasts a sta­ble of about 200 polo ponies — in­clud­ing a few rid­den by the South African and Nige­rian teams com­pet­ing on the day.

Kwame, there with his part­ner Delia Whigham, who is due to give birth to their first child next month, tells us his love af­fair with the sport started at an early age.

“I rode my first horse when I was three, and watched my first polo match when I was 11. I was im­me­di­ately hooked,” he says as our mains, grilled fish and pulled lamb shoul­der, are served.

And the match? In a thrilling joust, we beat our West African cousins six to four.

 ??  ?? Isaac and Khumo Shongwe
Isaac and Khumo Shongwe
 ??  ?? Delia Whigham and Kwame Awuah-Darko
Delia Whigham and Kwame Awuah-Darko
 ?? Pic­tures: John Lieben­berg ?? From left, Le­bo­gang Mon­t­jane with his daugh­ter Ra­madimetja and Andile and Mondo Mazwai.
Pic­tures: John Lieben­berg From left, Le­bo­gang Mon­t­jane with his daugh­ter Ra­madimetja and Andile and Mondo Mazwai.
 ??  ?? Moss and Tsholo Mashishi.
Moss and Tsholo Mashishi.
 ??  ??

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