12 days with Zuma: Waiting for the lovely Miss Mandisa

2011-05-12 07:20

Yesterday was a reminder of just how much journalism is like working in a restaurant: you spend most of your time waiting on people.

We drove from Joburg to Ukahlamba and Uthukela in KwaZulu-Natal, where the Commander in Chief (CiC) had a maddeningly full programme. It went something like this: breakfast with business leaders and traditional leaders in Greytown; a rally in the town; a second rally and meetings with traditional leaders in Msinga and Pomeroy near Dundee; another meeting with traditional leaders in Imbabazane outside Estcourt and, finally, another two whistle stop rallies in Phangweni and Wembezi near Estcourt.

Team City Press, being devoid of helicopter access, had to settle for attempting to intersect with President Jacob Zuma and his entourage at Msinga, only to find they were already airborne when we were nearing the town. A quick u-turn and we were hammering off to Phangweni, were the CiC was to address a mid-afternoon rally and do some door-to-door canvassing.

But the journalism gods were conspiring against us: the programme had suddenly changed and we were faced with a three-hour wait at Phangweni, where the faithful had started gathering from around midday in anticipation of seeing the big man.

So there we waited, all amped up and ready to rock it, hassling the locals about life in Estcourt to pass the time.

Countless cigarettes were smoked, stale jokes told. Boredom began to show its ugly face.

Then, out of nowhere, our rather unusual saviour arrived. The man in question was not the CiC or some other noteworthy personage, but a rather over-the-top crossdresser called Thembelani (or Mandisa) the frontman (or woman) for the Estcourt maskandi act Ubuzwe Bethu.

And what a sight s(he) was – clad in a black schoolgirl’s pinafore, white school shirt, black tights, white socks, girlie school shoes and those cute little white ankle socks, she rocked the thousands of punters who had turned out to see the CiC.

An athletic lass, to say the least, she leaped off the truck stage, cartwheeling and high kicking in time with the rest of the Ubuzwe Bethu dancers, flashing her pink panties every time she hurled herself into a handstand – and she did it rather often.

Her wig flew off, she lost a shoe, but there was no stopping Mandisa, whose gyrations had the crowd rolling around the field in stitches.

Team City Press, of course, were equally impressed and spent a little while in conversation with the lovely lass, who clearly hadn’t shaved her jaw in couple of days.

A number of the ANC security personnel seemed equally impressed, jostling for position to have their pictures taken with the lovely Mandisa.

By the time the CiC arrived, boredom was long gone and it was time for rock and roll.

We thank you, lovely Miss Mandisa.

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