Speaking at the Forbes Woman Africa Leading Women’s Summit in Durban on Friday, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the former chairperson of the AU, led the call for women to become key generators of wealth in Africa.
Sounding a warning call to corporates controlled exclusively by men, Dlamini Zuma, who is a minister in the presidency, said: “We can tell those companies that we will not buy your products if you can’t tell us where women are in the leadership of your company.”
If the response to the #MeToo campaign is anything to go by, the proposed consumer boycott, if it happens, could rock citadels of corporate power.
While the #MeToo campaign focused on women as victims of abuse, Dlamini Zuma’s call spoke to empowerment and was applauded by top women business executives at the summit, including chief executive of African Bank Basani Maluleke, chief executive of Ocean Basket Grace Harding, chairperson of the Industrial Development Corporation Busi Mabuza and Transet chief executive Nozipho Sithole.
Also in the spotlight were Nigerian Winter Olympics athlete Simidele Adeagbo, Nigerian news blogger Linda Ikeji, aesthetic surgeon Dr Portia Gumede, champion wheelchair tennis player Kgothatso Montjane and Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, the founder of Malaika which focuses on education and health programmes in Africa.
Then, just before lunch, the red carpet turned into a catwalk for Naomi Campbell as the keynote speaker. If anyone, including Campbell’s fans, expected pearls of wisdom, they were disappointed. It was a daunting challenge for an adept moderator, Gugulethu Mfuphi, to get an even vaguely intelligent discourse going.
Campbell said she had met the late Nelson Mandela when she first visited South Africa in 1993.
“He showed me a side of the world that I didn’t know,” said Campbell. “Since his passing, I thought, now what am I going to do because this was a man that I would run to in times of exhaustion and need, and just know that I was safe.”
“It then came to be that now would be the time for me to know what it was he wanted me to do - and that it would come to me clearly - to help the great continent of Africa.”
Asked how, Campbell replied: “We have to keep girls in school to keep them educated, to learn skills and get proper jobs.”
Citing deaths from HIV/Aids, Campbell added: “We need to also teach in the schools about protecting oneself so we can lower the numbers on this continent (sic).”
Asked whether she had enjoyed her visit to schools the day before, Campbell replied: “Yesterday? Where was I?”
Then came her closing adage for the day: “Behind every successful man, is a good woman. I truly believe that.”
After lunch, Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, delivered a presentation that would have left motivational speakers like Robin Banks jealous. Nel-Peters said: “We as African woman don’t have to stand back for anyone or any country. We are global leaders. We are global achievers. We should be proud of that. The future can be better, and we have the power to make it so.
“To all those women with a dream, remember, if you talk about it, it’s a dream; if you envisage it, it is possible; if you schedule it, it is real.”