Social – Zuma and co get red carpet treatment at Obama state dinner

2014-08-06 16:44

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President Jacob Zuma was accompanied by wife Nompumelelo Ntuli to President Barack Obama’s state dinner last night in a muggy Washington DC.

African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was the first of all the leaders to arrive. A black luxury sedan vehicle ferried her to the red carpet, where she was met by the White House’s protocol officer, Peter Selfridge.

Dlamini-Zuma wore a loose kaftan of mixed pinks and purples and one of her signature headscarves to match, and she looked relaxed as she turned around to smile and wave at photographers.

Zuma and his second wife arrived a little later and were dropped off at the entrance to the building in a small black van.

Zuma climbed two steps and waited for his wife, who got out on the other side of the car, before climbing the rest.

In contrast to the opening of Parliament just over a month ago, when he returned from sick leave to deliver the state of the nation address and needed help to climb the stairs, Zuma needed no help this time.

He led his wife, MaNtuli, up the steps while holding her hand lightly, and unclasped it as the two turned around to wave at the photographers and smile.

MaNtuli, who usually accompanies Zuma to the US and to meetings with the Obamas, was dressed in a black two-piece X a three-quarter skirt that flared at the bottom and a black jacket with sequinned sleeves.

The heads of state were the only ones to be given red carpet treatment.

Other invitees were ushered in at a side door.

Other South Africans who were expected to attend the dinner, according to a press release from the office of the first lady, included International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, business mogul Patrice Motsepe and his wife, Precious Moloi-Motsepe, and Standard Bank group executive officer Sim Tshabalala.

However, Tshabalala was seen at a function hosted by Standard Bank elsewhere in the city at the same time as the dinner.

The function was attended by high-ranking South African diplomats in the US such as ambassador Ebrahim Rasool; the consul-general in Chicago, Vuyiswa Tulelo; and the consul-general in New York, George Monyemangene.

Other attendees expected included Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, billionaire Mo Ibrahim and actor Robert de Niro.

Some heads of state, such as Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, were listed to attend the function alone and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame took his daughter, Ange Ingabire.

Guests were entertained by singer Lionel Richie and they were served Californian wines and steak for the main course.

See more on the menu here.

» City Press’ trip to Washington DC was partly funded by the US Embassy.

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