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VUT celebrates Women's Day with Zoleka Mandela

Resembling beautiful ancient African queens adorning head wraps, or doeks, as we like to call it in South Africa, the VUT ladies gathered in style and grace at the Emerald River Resort on 5 August to celebrate National Women's Day.

In memory of our heroines who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956, it is only fitting to have the event themed: "Own your throne - wear your best doek", and the VUT ladies certainly did just that.

The keynote speaker was Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela Mandela and former first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. She promoted her book: "When Hope Whispers", where she tells all about her life and struggle of dealing with sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, losing two children and being diagnosed with breast cancer.

An emotional talk, which had all of the women in the room in utter silence, Zoleka relayed her story of becoming a fully-fledged alcoholic at the age of 13 and suffering from sexual abuse at the hands of close family friends from the age of four. "No one is immune from being a victim of social ills," she said. Despite being just 36 years old, Zoleka has endured a lot; however, one cannot tell, as her smile radiates across the room and her youthful face resembles that of a person who's never encountered hardships.

The entertainment for the day was iconic jazz, soul and funk diva Jennifer Jones. Her powerful voice as she sang had some ladies getting up from their chairs and dancing to their heart's content. There was a prize give-away between intervals, and a few VUT ladies who were selected from the lucky ticket draw walked away with hampers and an autographed booked by Zoleka.

The programme was filled with powerful and impactful speakers: Mabel Ledwaba, owner of Havillah beauty parlour based in Vanderbijlpark, shared a motivational and emotional healing talk, opening up about her past relationship and discussing her road to success in business and finding inner peace. Ledwaba shared her story with the hope that many women would relate to her and be inspired by what she's overcome.

The event, which was organised by the internal PR team, was a huge success; women left in the afternoon feeling highly inspired and motivated. Celebrating Women's Day is more than just coming together to rejoice and eat; it's about sharing and supporting each other through the everyday societal challenges women face. It's about the upliftment and continuous encouragement for each woman to succeed in her own right.

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