A glamorous night with black business royalty

2013-03-24 10:00

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By my rough estimation – and perhaps with a slight exaggeration – the cars parked outside Kyalami’s Theatre on the Track last Friday could easily have equalled the GDP of a small African state.

I’ve never seen such a gathering of wheels that expensive outside of a German sedan plant. The occasion was the Black Business Executive Circle’s third Chairman’s Awards, so I should have known better. The circle is for black business leaders, especially chief executives and chairpersons.

Inside, I was greeted by the kind of decor reserved for kitsch weddings – garish neon orange and black – shudder! I know it’s their colours, but to translate them into a confined space was not such a great idea.

Dodgy design aside, the company of these captains of industry was splendid, with deputy president of the ANC and Shanduka chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa on the bill as the guest speaker. Some of the greatest brains in the country were there, such as SA Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus, who was polite enough to stop and greet everyone; as well as Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.

The stars of the night were the celebrants Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission; Herman Mashaba, the executive chairperson of Lephatsi Investments; Kaizer Motaung, the executive chairperson of Kazier Chiefs; Lehlohonolo Letele, the executive chairperson of Multichoice; Sipho Nkosi, the CEO of Exxaro Resources; and Vusi Khanyile, the executive chair of Thebe.

Dlamini-Zuma, looking her best for a long time, got the loudest cheer and a standing ovation. I shared a table with her three daughters, including Gugu, who used to be in Isidingo. My heart sank for Msholozi (one of the other daughters), who was wearing an orange dress and became one with the orange chair she was sitting on.

The chairperson, Hlengani Mathebula, couldn’t sit still and enjoy the evening. It became obvious he was irritating MC Lerato Mbele with his constant trips up on stage to correct this and adjust that.

I have never been a fan of lamb shank, but when the waiter gave me a choice between that and duck breast, I was foolish enough to give it a go. The meat was swimming in oily tomato gravy and I instantly felt full.

By the time Lira came on stage a few minutes before midnight, most of the guests were ducking out. But it was a memorable night of inspiring speeches toasting black business excellence.

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