President Cyril Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and State Theatre board chairperson Professor Fikile Mazibuko with Ladysmith Black Mambazo yesterday.
SPORTING a “Madiba shirt”, President Cyril Ramaphosa looked starstruck when he met the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo for the first time at the State Theatre yesterday.

The group took to the stage at the State Theatre - having also performed there on Friday and Saturday - in celebration of 100 years of the birth of Nelson Mandela.

Mutual admiration abounded when Ramaphosa saluted the members of the auspicious Isicathamiya group in an intimate meet-and-greet session.

Flashing an endless smile was Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa. “We government officials often do a lot of talking. Today we are going to be listening to the wonderful sounds of amaMbazo,” he said. Ramaphosa added: “We’ll listen to your melodic sounds to feed not only our ears but also our souls.”

Ramaphosa described the group as the most valuable asset and export in South Africa. “We produce gold, diamonds, platinum and wine but you are by far the most valuable export,” he said. He said the group had done a lot to put South Africa on the map.

The Isicathamiya group wasted no time boasting to the president about the five Grammys they had won. The awards were with them. “I want to take the fifth Grammy to the Union Buildings,” Ramaphosa quipped. The group's eldest member, Albert Mazibuko, said it was an honour to meet the president.