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Behind Every Great Man...

Idiom circa 1900.

We were a small family group, spirits a little down, at having bid a daughter/sister/granddaughter/niece, ‘bon voyage’ on her flight to London; first leg of her new career after graduating her honors degree at Wits University.

We strolled the restaurant corridor at the airport concourse; for the most part Dr Tshepo Motsepe 2swallowing hard, some crying openly, remembering the sight of a little blond-haired figure slipping away into the security zone.

Unexpectedly, we were approached by a young man, with a broad smile, “Would you like to meet our President’s Wife?” For my part, I wondered if it was a hoax – I mean, who in this world, is approached, at a busy international airport by a young man offering an opportunity of this magnitude?

He led us to a group of people, judging by the number of children, it was a family. Amid the group was a petite unassuming lady, who graciously turned our way as the young man began introducing us, “This is Doctor Tshepo Motsepe, the President’s Wife” Because the expression is appropriate, I will use it – I was gob smacked!

A gentlewoman in every sense of the word, softly spoken with a radiant smile, she put out her hand, for us to shake.

Dr Tshepo Motsepe 3Whilst our family were introducing themselves, I looked around, expecting to see a large security force, armed to the teeth, glaring suspiciously at the strangers standing too close to their charge. Instead, I did see a couple of bodies that looked the part – smiling, as if they were amused by the obvious surprise at our extraordinary experience. The larger part of the group surrounding this charming lady, were children, all with beaming faces.

The idiom came about in the 1900’s as an effort to draw attention to the fact that famous men, never reached their pinnacle alone – there was always a woman who could be congratulated for their rise to fame, standing solidly behind them.

Tom Head, of “The South African”, reported in an article journaled by him (see link below) a few attributes of our South African First Lady.

I thought the most striking achievements of our First Lady (taken from Tom’s article) were:

  1. Doctor Motsepe gained her MBChB, (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) at the University of KZN
  2. She completed her Master of Public Health (MPH in maternal Child Health at Harvard School of Public Health.
  3. She comes from a family line of real success. Mrs. Ramaphoso is the older sister of South Africa’s first Black Billionaire, Patrice Motsepe. Her sister, Bridget, is married to the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe.

The list goes on – read more in Tom Head’s article.

Doctor Motsepe, my Wife and I will remember this day, as will my family members, for as long as we live; may you and Mister President be anointed to rule over our country, bringing the peace and prosperity for which our Rainbow Nation has yearned.

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