Hanging out with global fever folk
● Beyoncé fever hit SA last week as that music fest which ropes in international stars to draw a crowd for a preach session to fight world poverty came to town. And with Patrice and Precious Motsepe’s Foundation the main sponsors of the event held at Soweto’s FNB Stadium, I decided to start my weekend by attending the billionaire couple’s official welcome dinner for the Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival last Saturday evening at the swish Sandton Convention Centre.
We were promised that this would be the ultimate celeb-spotting shindig, with a “guest list including international and local celebrities, business influencers, philanthropists and more”, according to one of the publicists, Nhlanhla Shezi.
“Beyoncé is the guest of honour,” whispered one guest, while another said they’d heard Naomi Campbell would be modelling.
“Pharrell Williams is going to be performing,” said another, brimming with excitement.
Sadly, though, despite the fact that the Motsepes’ deep pockets paid for most of those international acts to make the trek down south, we were left with a roomful of local celebs and a smattering of overseas names with a lot less star power. Folk like Zimbabwean actress Danai Gurira, whose star is on the rise thanks to her role in Black Panther but who isn’t exactly a household name, and controversial American preacher Rev Al Sharpton.
One of the first people I meet as I make my way through the Fort Knox-style security scanners into the cocktail area is interior design supremo Stephen Falcke, who is leaning against a couch with a pair of crutches beside him.
Stephen, who is the Motsepes’ décor go-to guy (he oversaw the enchanting decorations for the night and earlier this year went marble shopping in Italy for the couple), tells me his one leg was amputated in July after he fell ill.
“I said to Keith [his partner] we have to turn a negative into a positive,” he says, adding that the loss of a limb hasn’t stopped his travels — he is due to launch his book in London, Sydney and the US.
Turning to my left, I can’t help but smile wryly as I watch celebs and quite a few unknowns line up dutifully to get their pics snapped on the red carpet on one end of the venue.
Someone not fussed with all the pomp is Sir Bob Geldof, who I spot trying to slip out of the queue and who I convince to oblige our A-Lister lensman John Liebenberg for just one pic.
“Your thoughts on the concert,” I ask the rocker who kick-started the whole concertmeets-charity trend back in the 1980s with his Live Aid events.
“These things happen all the time these days, but this is a f**k-off bill,” he says.
Then it’s greeting singer Danny K and his wife, Lisa, and her folks, Billy and Michelle Gundelfinger; Nicky van der Walt and his model wife, Lee-Ann Liebenberg; and TV and radio presenter Azania Mosaka, whose feathered dress must have put a major dent in the Oudtshoorn ostrich population.
The event gets under way after the lady of the hour — not Beyoncé but Precious Motsepe — arrives, although I hardly see a thing as my view of the stage is obscured by a massive pillar. Mind you, I don’t think I missed much as we sat through an overly long fashion show interspersed with musical acts sans those international big hitters.
You’ll want to know about the concert the next day, but I won’t bore you with my take on the on-stage activities.
I will admit that the Mr and Mrs Carter show blew me away (Beyoncé draped in local design Quiteria & George for the finale was a nice surprise), Ed Sheeran got me on my feet and Cassper Nyovest stole the show.
I was horrified by the drama that ensued, especially around that Sasol petrol station.
Yes, the police could have tried harder to keep us safe, but judging by the tight security around all those heads of states and international acts, I can’t help but feel that those whose duty it was to take care of ordinary folk spent more effort shielding VIPs.
Azania Mosaka Stephen FalckeBob Geldof, left; Precious Motsepe, below.
Lee-Ann Liebenberg and Nicky van der Walt
Danny K, Lisa Koppel, Michelle and Billy Gundelfinger