Social – A toast to SA’s finest

2013-06-30 14:00

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City Press paid tribute to the country’s trailblazers who remind us that local is still lekker. Lesley Mofokeng was there

Even in his absence, Nelson Mandela loomed large on a night to honour 100 World Class South Africans. These are home-grown innovators, shapeshifters, thought leaders, icons and achievers who have had an impact on the international stage.

Katy’s Palace Bar in Sandton was the perfect spot for a night of celebrating these leading lights in different fields. City Press threw the party at the softly lit, airy, New York loft-style venue in northern Joburg. The twinkling lights of Sandton City and Morningside in the distance added to the night’s enchantment.

The list of who’s who in the land is scheduled to come out as an annual supplement later in the year, but the lucky guests all walked away with the coffee table-style book, which was specially printed for the evening.

Ferial Haffajee, the paper’s editor in chief, made a touching speech about how she wished Madiba was in attendance.

In her tribute to the most famous South African of modern times, Haffajee called him an “emblem of nonracialism” and reflected on his ill-health and the tension in the country. “We’re in a period of limbo. It’s the oddest and saddest moment,” she said.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele, always up for a good party, also paused to reflect on Mandela’s wellbeing. “There’s a man who has given so much of himself to us. We must let him go. It’s very painful to let go of a parent. But we can’t keep sucking from the breast of a parent for eternity. There comes a time when they have to go.”

Not that this was a pity party for our ailing statesman. The mood shifted into merriment as Haffajee and Andile Sangqu, the executive director of GlencorXstrata, handed out certificates to seven of the innovators and shapeshifters in attendance.

Kudos to businessmen Herman Mashaba of Black Like Me and Nando’s founder Robbie Brozin; empress of song Sibongile Khumalo; activist, academic and political party leader Ramphele; Paralympics champ Natalie Du Toit; Princess of Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka; and celebrated musician Johnny Clegg.

In all the excitement, the energetic Le Zoulou Blanc, as the French call Clegg, accidentally stepped on the glass frame of Ramphele’s certificate and cracked it. But the Agang leader wasn’t too thrown by the misstep.

“It doesn’t matter,” she laughed.

She was in full campaigning mode and looks to have mastered the art – complete with a dance (or was it a shuffle?) and keen engagement with everyone.

She’ll be kissing babies soon.

May I put forward my recommendation to the Feather Awards to honour Chaka Chaka and Khumalo as the town’s hottest BFFs, with the Cutest Couple of the Year award?

I see them together everywhere I go and they seem never to be short of conversation and giggles.

Marianne Fassler, the doyenne of local fashion, was in an interesting, earth-toned dress. I was eager to call her our Vivienne Westwood, what with the flame orange dreadlocks and her critical acclaim in fashion circles. She said the dress was made using a crafty technique and embraced her love of stripes. It was eye-catching.

But my eyes were fixed on the perfectly coiffed hair of David Tlale (who is always in black) and looked like a cross between Sammy Davis Jr and Miguel. The ever-busy Tlale is preparing for his showing at Cape Town Fashion Week in August, New York Fashion Week in September and Africa Fashion Week later in the year.

Fashion designers David Tlale (left), Marianne Fassler and Paledi Segapo represented the fashion fraternity well. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

He promises a celebration of epic proportions as he marks a decade in business.

Isabel Novella performed songs from her debut album.

Emerging artist Isabel Novella entertained the audience with her music at the City Press 100 World Class South Africans event in Sandton. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

A special mention must go out to the night’s MC, Katlego Maboe of Expresso, who was in fine form with his sharp wit.

Also worthy of applause was the tomato soup served with a waffle that had me going back for seconds.

» Follow me on Twitter @LesLehM

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