‘Gogo of the Year’ chosen at Valley of 1000 Hills

2012-12-10 00:00

WEARING their hardships like pearls, smiling past their grey hair and wrinkles, the contestants in the “Gogo of the Year” competition were full of spirit and vigour on Friday.

Swaying down the aisle full of attitude and fun, the gogos were an inspiration to everyone assembled at the Ekhupumeleni Bambanani Hall in the Valley of 1000 Hills.

The event was held by the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust (HACT), which helps more than 1 500 gogos with Aids and bereavement counselling, financial training, craft projects and literacy.

The year-end event is held to celebrate the power of these inspirational women, who are often the only breadwinners caring for young children at a stage of their lives when they should be relaxing.

Some were dressed in traditional outfits, with beaded aprons and hats. Others wore their most formal dresses made from shweshwe fabric, with a matching handbag, and some wore Western attire, with broad sunhats and high heels.

The gogos, aged from 50 to the late 90s, were all there for the HACT Christmas event and to see who would scoop the coveted title and a prize of R500 as part of the trust’s Granny Support Group Project, which helps them earn an income. Some make crafts and sew, and others grow vegetables.

Granny Support Group Project co-ordinator Cwengi Myeni, a finalist in the Woman of the Year competition, urged the women to enter the competiton. A few bold grandmas shuffled to the back to sign up and others were urged by their friends.

Shyly they giggled and signed up for the contest. Big, small, shy and bold gogos all swaggered down the aisle, some with walking sticks, dancing to the music and allowing their personalities to show.

All, even those in battered takkies and unmatched clothes, were given huge applause for their courage in entering.

The six finalists gave a convincing show for the rapturous audience. They answered questions and then the finalists were chosen.

Ululating and spontaneous hugs abounded as the women were congratulated.

Winner Tholakele Kunene said: “I am so happy to be able to give something nice to my grandchildren for Christmas.”

Her beautiful tribal outfit and confidence won over the judges. The remaining gogos were treated to a scrumptious lunch and cooldrinks.

For most of the year the gogos struggle and battle to put food on the table for their families, but on Friday they were lauded as the special people they are. There were also prizes for the groups with the best gardens and craft groups.

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