South Africa ‘s North Eastern town of Thohoyandou was painted blue and white as it hosted the 2019 National Women Conference at the 2010 Center, opposite Phalaphala FM Studios, on 08-10 March 2019. One could have been forgiven for concluding that every third member of the community or shopper in the small town was a UAAC members as throngs of young and old women clad in their famous blue and white clearly invaded the area. United in diversity was an order of the day as Shona, Sesotho, Isizulu, Tsonga, Ndebele, Sepedi and Setswana were spoken in all corners of the town.
Led by Jevrou Maluleke, Chief Insp Ramalamula, Snr Insp Tshisikhawe and Inspector Maudu, the UAAC faithful braced the scorching Thohoyandou heat to enjoy their annual convention. Singing “Ni so ngo vhilahela, vha hone murena (do not be anxious about anything, GOD is watching)”, they reminisce about their late Spiritual Father whose absence was conspicuously perceived by all in attendance. Having started on Friday evening, with mainly Limpopo based UAAC membership, the conference gained momentum when delegates from Zimbabwe and Southern Provinces in RSA (Gauteng and Free State) joined their counterparts on Saturday morning. Program Director, Mrs Mabadzhadzha, had her hands full as she struggled to contain the exuberance of the conference because congregants were consistently on the edge of their seats.
The Youth, Councillors’ leadership and Bishops, who came to support their mothers, seemed oblivious of the primary stakeholder of the conference as they spent more time on the dance floor than witnessing the women procession. Youth President Ramutsheli, LP Provincial Chairperson Mathoma, Gauteng Chairperson Mudau, GP Councillors’ Chairperson Nemulalate, Coordinators Nevhutalu (LP) and Musetha (GP), Bishop Hlabangwana, Bishop Muzila and Bishop Maleho led circular dances, whilst old ladies engaged in deafening ululations.
Honking horns and whistles characterized the arrival of the National Executive Committee members who immediately welcomed themselves by joining the long queues on the dance floor on Saturday afternoon.
Bishop Hlabangwana opened the Conference officially on the evening of 9 March 2019, whilst Bishop Muzila and Bishop Maleho addressed the congregation. Both the Youth, Councillors’ leadership and Zimbabwe delegation led by Cllr Mkaruze were granted opportunities to address the conference. They all reiterated the call made during the GP Youth Conference in February 2019 that we must remain as one.
Various sermons were delivered during distinct services by the women leadership and other elderly women. They sought to empower young women to be responsible mothers, wives and leaders, both at church and society at large. All sermons centered around the theme of the Conference, “Those who trust in the Lord renew their strength”. They all read from Isiah 40:31.
Notwithstanding the nostalgia that engraved the Women ‘s faces on Sunday morning as they missed their Spiritual Father, his call for unity, peace and love were put in practice. They all agreed that his spirit will only rest when they do what he taught them to do, prompting them to ask Bishop Hlabangwane to sing most of the songs of Archbishop Dr EMM Mureri. Bishop Hlabangwana did not disappoint as he emulated his revered leader, mimicking all the songs with unmatched perfection and blending it with the Archbishop ‘s unique gestures of moving his shoulders whilst drawing closer to the congregants before his eventual dance.
The conference certainly left an indelible mark in the minds of many.
Peace be unto all as we sing “Twananani Ma-United”.