My name is Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa. I am a singer from Cape Town. In 1997 I was hired to perform for the farewell party President Mandela party he hosted for his staff -- including domestic and gardening staff -- at the Green Dolphin restaurant at the V & A Waterfront. It was my most memorable gig ever!
There was so much excitement around the area of the venue that afternoon before the great man arrived. Security personnel were everywhere. A tired-looking old man in oil-stained, torn overalls was walking past the venue. Security officers shooed him away just as the big metalic blue Mercedes Benz came to halt next to him. When Madiba got out of the car, he went straight to the man in dirty overalls, "How are you?" he asked, shaking the man's hand.
Inside the venue, waiters were running up and down with excitement. One waiter, who happened to be white, brought his six-month old baby and a camera, positioned himself strategically inside the entrance Madiba was going to use and gave the camera to a barman to take as many pictures as possible when the president spoke to him. He knew Madiba's love for children. True to form, when he walked in, Madiba went straight to the baby,"Is it a boy or a girl?" he asked. The young father was shaking like a leaf when he took his camera back from the barman. "Did you see him talk to me? Did you take pictures? What did I say?" The poor young man was in shock.
The president shook my hand before settling at his table and I began performing with some jazz standards. When I began the click song Uqongqothwane, Madiba got up and joined us on stage and sang and danced with us. My husband Kwezi Kobus was singing with us. The child in the picture belongs to one of Madiba’s staff.
I will never forget that gig for as long as I live!
Quote: "When Madiba got out of the car, he went straight to the man in dirty overalls, ‘How are you?’"