Sakhumzi Foundation honours Soweto icons
Despite all real or imagined challenges facing the country, black communities have nothing but their bootstraps by which they need to pull themselves out of all trying circumstances, including any rut that impedes progress.
That message seemed to have been a recurring theme at an event hosted by Sakhumzi Foundation, in which the organisation commits itself to honour 50 Soweto icons – women and men – who are respected business leaders in the country, specifically in Soweto.
On Thursday, the spotlight fell on Phuthi Mahanyele-debengwa – the fourth Soweto businessperson to be honoured since the inception of the 50 Soweto Icons project initiated by businessman and founder of Sakhumuzi Restaurant Sakhumuzi Maqubela.
The restaurant is situated along the famous Vilakazi Street, Orlando West, Soweto – home to two Nobel Peace prize winners, late president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who both had an indelible social justice impact on the political life of the country.
Conferring the certificate of honour on Mahanyele-debengwa, Maqubela said: “Our children do not have role models; we don’t have role models, yet there are many role models born in Soweto, but who now live in various suburbs such as Sandton.”
Mahanyele-debengwa joins the list of three other Sowetans – singer and businesswoman Yvonne Chaka Chaka; businessman, motivational speaker and author Dr David Molapo; and actor and businessman Sello Maake-kancube.
She is a powerhouse in business circles, currently serving as chief executive of Naspers South Africa, the first black female executive to have achieved this feat.
Maqubela said there was no need to leave the country, and emigrate, stating “we all need to commit to saving this country, and pick ourselves up”.
“If you run away, you go to France, you will find racism there. The world over has difficulties of one sort or another.
“To those who says, ‘we are eating’, the message to them should be that of great outrage. No one should ‘eat’ while others go hungry. The message should rather be we should all work hard to save our country,” Maqubela said.
In reply, Mahanyele-debengwa, said she was happy for Maqubela, and his business at Vilakazi Street, which is making a significant impact as an hospitality entity.
“I came back from the United States to make a difference in my country. Let us create a different future for our children,” she said.