On Wednesday evening, I was a truly “proud South African”.

In a very well attended online meeting, the South African Chamber commended 28 people for their efforts “above and beyond the call of duty” in helping the vulnerable, the sick, the starving and the displaced. Their wonderful stories are inspiring; they kept people alive, they supported families, they educated, they delivered meals and masks and helped negotiate ship-less seas and plane-less skies to get stranded Brits and South Africans back to their respective homes. A number of those commended contracted the virus and survived.

All 130 participants gave a moment of silence to honour those, particularly South Africans, who contracted the virus in the line of duty in the frontline in the UK and did not survive. To respect the privacy of the families we didn’t name them, but in our silence, we paid tribute to them and offer our heartfelt condolences to their loved ones.

Those recognised were truly humbled by being nominated and awarded the Spirit of Ubuntu Commendation, one in particular saying “it’s my job and it’s a job I love”, reminding us how rewarding it is to serve others.

Watch the edited highlights here

Her Excellency, the High Commissioner to the UK, Nomatemba Tambo shared wise words recognising the nation’s goodwill, resilience, hospitality and generosity and how that will be needed in the years long battle ahead, stating it is “a time for hope and freedom. Be proud to be South African as you have something to offer the world.”

The Commendations were unveiled to “Born to Shine”, a song written and sung by Karen Zoid. The lyrics aptly stating “Just like stars in the night, We gon’ light up the sky, Cuz’ you know that we were born to shine.”

The people commended were:

Angelique Aspinwall, Nontle Beauty, Jacintha Canary, Jazzy D, Kathleen Dey, James Durrant, Shaun Els, Sindiso Sira Joya, Jessica and Nick Le Merle, Robyn Le Roux, Keshney Macraj, Amanda Lee Maddocks, Mmapula Mtabane, Natasha Mulder, Sesibongile Ngobese, Shereen Banu Parker, Hayley Reichart, Saskia Richards, Dr Sangxa Rozani, Mam Sonto, Thabo Tabane, Tembi Tambo, Stefan Terblanche, Mazoe Thara, Lauren Torlage, Marion Wagner and Elena Williams.

Veronica King was called upon to expound upon the meaning of Ubuntu. Greeting the audience in multiple languages, she beautifully explained that “Ubuntu” is a Zulu philosophical term meaning “I am, because we are” and how her upbringing within the community has given her the values she espouses today. The Spirit of Ubuntu encompasses “humility, community, togetherness and connectedness – something that is the way of life for South Africans”, she said.

The energy and positivity created by the Spirit of Ubuntu Awards continued into a wine tasting evening with Benguela Cove. The images of the lagoon at Botriver, the vineyards, wildlife, mountains, and sea had those in the UK hankering for home. Penny Streeter OBE, founder of three young wine estates, two in Sussex, south of London and Benguela Cove in South Africa, spoke of her desire to bring the “wine estate experience” only South Africans know how to do – excellent wines, destination vineyard to visit, including golf, food and fauna – to the UK.

Johann Fourie led the tasting of their excellent MCC, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, teaching even the experienced amongst us more about wines and wine making.

The spirit of togetherness was not yet done and many stayed on to network and chat for another hour and a half. It was a wonderful and uplifting evening for everyone who attended.

The Benguela Cove wine tasting evening will be posted to our Youtube channel soon.

I would also like to remind everyone that the fund raising for the Solidarity Fund, referenced by the High Commissioner, is still open for those who would still like to make a donation (no matter how small). It is easy to donate, just click here. Donations will support women in South Africa suffering gender and home based violence in these difficult times.

Sharon Constançon

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