Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, profiles a graduate of Brandhill Africa Foundation’s youth development programme, Mathapelo Nkadimeng – originally from Limpopo’s Sekhukhune district – who has risen to establish her own events and promotions company.

The history of Africa is endowed with tales and anecdotes that serve as reservoirs for inspiration – one of those is an Ethiopian national epic and foundation story of the legendary Queen of Sheba,  a prominent figure in the Kebra Nagast (“Glory of King”). According to this tradition, the Queen of Sheba, called Makeda, visited Solomon’s court durung biblical times after hearing about his wisdom. She stayed and learned from him for six months. 

Attracted to her wit, intellectual prowess, sociability and divine beauty, King Solomon, couldn’t resist an insatiable desire for her courtship. Indeed she became pregnant. But this royal courtship didn’t discourage her from returning to her home country to use the knowledge she garnered from his wisdom to serve her people.

Back to her kingdom, she bore Solomon a son, Menilek. Menilek 1st (the first) was made king by his father, thus founding the royal Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia, which ruled until the deposition of Emperor Haile Selassie I in 1974.

One wouldn’t be off-mark to even suggest the legacy of the Queen of Sheba includes the establishment of the African Union (then the Organisation of African Unity, OAU) as it was launched in Ethiopia on 25 May 1963 – convened and chaired by Emperor Haile Selassie I.

So in choosing an appropriate name for this company, Mathapelo looked no further. “I searched not only for a name inspired by a narrative from Africa’s heroic history, but I also wanted it to resonate with my personal experience – though young as I am, I have travelled this short journey guided by many professionals who selflessly coached and mentored me. For me I find the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon as quest for acquiring knowledge from those more intellectually and professionally gifted through coaching and mentorship. This is about one learning the robes and the intricacies of business through apprenticeship. It is about one not only acquiring knowledge theoretically, but practically as the theory is tested by practice and thus challenging one to even refine it where it’s necessary. This is a living knowledge acquired in the crucible of the hard knocks of business practice.

“Though I do not come from the privileged world of royalty and preside over any kingdom like the Queen of Sheba, her story is mine if one has to track my journey into business. And it is the story that I wish – in the midst of despair, doom, gloom and hopelessness our South African youths are cast into – could be communicated to all in inspiring a sense of hope and purpose in life among this sector of our society.”

Mathapelo took us down memory lane. “My journey began in 2018 when I was recruited by the Ziyaphenduka Marketing and Events Logistics, through Brandhill Africa Foundation, to support them in project managing the Pixley ka Isaka Seme Liberation Heritage Route programme launch in the Gert Sibande District Municipality in Mpumalanga. I was brought in as a Programme Assistant during the Pixley ka Isaka Seme Music Concert on 28 December 2018 in Secunda. The concert line-up included Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Caiphus Semenya & Letta Mbuli and Cassper Nyovest. Although this was a baptism of fire into the world of star-studded event management, I learnt a great deal from my mentors and coaches who guided me.”

The Programme, undertaken on behalf of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) through Bruce Kgapane’s Ziyaphenduka Marketing and Events Logistics, meant they had to mount the Pixley ka Isaka Seme Charity Golf Day in March 2019 in Secunda. “This was my very first encounter with golf events. Through guidance, the event was supported and it was successful. My mentors – Brandhill Africa Foundation’s Tshepo Molobi and Bruce – were extremely impressed with my passion, tenacity and commitment to carry out every task I was given. Perhaps what impressed the former was that I didn’t need to be micro-managed. I am an uncompromising go-getter!”

The two events also introduced her to the science of etiquette and protocol as she had to give VIP treatment to the guests – from public, private and civil society sectors – in terms of lines of precedence. “By the way, golf is a game predominantly played by professionals and business people who are captains of the industry, so I served them well, I also learnt a great deal from them as I had to cater for their professional needs. This honed my customer service skills and expertise as where I faultered, my mentors were ready to advice me. Many appreciated the fact I was ready to learn and I saw criticism as a constructive mechanism to help build me into a better service agent to my clients and customers,” said Mathapelo, oozing with youthful confidence and chutzpah.

Valuing her contribution, Brandhill Africa Foundation put her on permanent call and saw them hosting another successful charity golf day at the Drakensburg, in KwaZulu-Natal, as part of the Bergville of Tomorrow (BOT) annual week-long celebration.

Then Brandhill Africa Foundation won a few contracts to host many events in Limpopo – and these included those of the Limpopo Sports Confederation, in partnership with the Limpopo Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. The events included project managing the entire programme that involves mobilizing sponsorships, recruiting players, developing stakeholder matrix including initations, managing the golf match, hosting the prize giving dinner and putting together a closure report. “This also introduced me to doing promotions as we began to use our events as platforms not only to promote the services and products of our corporate sponsors, but also promoted alcoholic beverages such as Moringa Gin – of stand comedian, Mashabela Galane – to our guests.”

They have also attended other golf events hosted at such exquisite resorts as Euphoria promoting the Brandhill Africa brand. “Our last event through the Brandhill Africa Foundation was the inaugural Sekhukhune District Mayoral Charity Golf Day which was hosted in Globlersdal on 29 October 2021. This was highly successful. Even more humbling for me was that i was ploughing back to my home district.

“Throughout this journey of learning the robes and gaining practical experience in promotions and event management, I was humbled by the mentors, coaches and stakeholders I served who showered me with compliments. This boosted my self confidence and inspired my drive to explore possibilities of establishing a company. Although I hope through it I could be able to make a living, my ultimate dream is to pay back my mentors, coaches and stakeholders who encouraged me to be what I have become by inspiring other youngsters not to despair but to derive inspiration from my effort to become what they are destined to be despite the challenges of life we may be encountering.

“I value mentorship and coaching as pursued by the Queen of Sheba. And in paying homage to this reservoir of my inspiration, I then decided to name this company after her: Queen of Sheba Promotions and Events (Pty) Ltd. It will be a vehicle i will continue receiving support from my friends, mentors, coaches and the captains of the industry while I’ll also strive to impact the lives of other youths positively. Yes, I’m the queen in my kraal that hosts events and promotes service and product brands!”