AFRICA Heritage Society (AHS), a pan-African organisation chaired by Mutumwa Mawere hosted a birthday party for him on January 11.
I was invited along to join more than 150 business persons at the Rand Club in wishing Mawere many happy returns. Cecil John Rhodes helped establish the Rand Club some 122 years ago in downtown Johannesburg.
In a unique blend of business, glamour and fun, friends, family and business associates honoured a man they described a true champion of pan-Africanism.
Africa Heritage Society (AHS) was founded in 2003 as pan-African membership organisation which seeks to put Africa and its various interests at the centre of business strategy.
AHS has a diverse membership which provides a platform for dialogue among members and creates opportunities to Africa’s business leaders.
The guests were people of different colour, creed and religion but all with one vision: to create a strong business and social platform in which a truly African heritage can be formed.
In his birthday message to Mawere, the Africa Heritage Investments (AHI) Chairman, Nathan Mariemuthu, spoke of his commitment to a better and prosperous Africa and he shared with the audience the history of his association with Mawere and how he joined the Society at its formation.
On behalf of the members of AHS, Mariemuthu presented him with a walking stick to encourage Mawere to never tire in the efforts to make Africa the continent we all want to see. “Keep walking my brother especially for Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa and take stones thrown at you as building blocks for a new Africa,” Mariemuthu said.
For his outstanding contribution to putting African business on the world map, Mawere also received the AHS Humanitarian Award. Speaker after speaker spoke of his hard work and dedication, describing him as a clear and transparent businessman.
The birthday man also gave a few words of wisdom, including brief background information on how he started, moved to South Africa in 1995 and subsequently acquired South African citizenship. He also gave a background on his entry into business and the journey travelled so far as well as challenges of doing business in Zimbabwe where he was born.
His main emphasis was to encourage Africans to invest in the heritage of Africa now, urging: “If you do nothing, you are never in doubt of the outcome and the future will always have causal link between the future and today’s actions.”
Mawere spoke of the urgency of now, emphasising that we need to act now and together to build a sound and solid foundation for the sake of our heritage. The point was made that the future of Africa will continue to be insecure without an investment in the changes that we want to see. The importance of networking in determining business success was emphasised as was the need to create a new African identity that is inclusive and non-discriminatory.
As Africans, we need to move away from the days when children inherited debt after their parents pass on. If we do not do it now, who will?
The evening’s MC, Ricky Singh- kept the guest entertained with his witty humour but most importantly he managed to drive a ‘Shoes for Africa’ fundraising which raised a whooping R125,000 which is an AHS initiative to provide shoes to disadvantaged children in Africa. The list of guests covered various parts of the business world from representatives from the financial sector like FNB, Standard Bank and even the Institute of Bankers in South Africa to foreign diplomats.
I had had the privilege of meeting Mawere the previous day. When I walked into his office, I thought I knew something about him and had somehow made my own conclusions based mainly on his weekly articles in various publications: I was totally wrong.
What was supposed to be some kind of interview, ended up in me having one of the best learning experiences ever. He opened my eyes to a number of issues that we often oversee. Our attitudes as Africans have to move more towards the positive side and start to invest in Pan-Africanism if we are ever going to compete effectively on the world stage. I learnt that the limitations we face often come from within ourselves.
I went in that morning wanting to know more about the man behind the businessman. He quickly pointed out that it was not about him as an individual but about creating sound investment in Africa. Mawere was only 20 years old when Zimbabwe got its independence, I had just been born and yet today, a whole generation of Africans, black, whites, young and old remain uncertain of the heritage we will leave for our next generation. Now is the time to act.
Africa Heritage Society has opened the door to every African to start the journey of creating the heritage we want for our children.