Johannesburg's First Lady opts for simple life
No blue-light gang for Philisiwe Twala-Tau - who cares about her marriage, works hard and values long, true friendships
SHE might be the first lady of South Africa's business capital, but Philisiwe Twala-Tau likes to keep things simple.
Twala-Tau, who is the wife of Parks Tau, the City of Johannesburg's executive mayor, does not wear make-up, move around with bodyguards and she drives an old Toyota Corolla she got from her mother and a 2003 second-hand Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
But that does not mean the mother of six does not embrace her feminine nature.
She is impeccably groomed without being showy.
"I am not the dressy type. I do not like to put myself under pressure. I am comfortable with simplicity," she says.
"That is why I still have the friends I used to have when I was in high school and at university.
"We are very comfortable with each other. And besides, a complicated life would also drain Parks, because he is a very simple person."
Twala-Tau, who holds an Honours degree in Public Management and is studying towards her Master's, adds that she does not like shopping unlike most women who are addicted to it, saying "it sickens me to the stomach".
"I hate shopping. My only weakness is good food. I love dining out and I have a very sweet tooth. I am also known for being a very good cook though my children like to eat out.
"They are forever inviting friends, though, and every weekend I host about 10 to 12 of their friends. I like it because I do not have to worry about their not being at home."
Twala-Tau says her husband is tolerant and understanding of the little visitors who always invade their home in Winchester Hills.
"My husband is a very gentle and mellow man, but I am outgoing. He smiles through it all.
"I would not trade him for anything.
"What I like about him is that he does not impose his character on me. He accepts me as I am. "
But she says her marriage has not always been a bed of roses.
"We have had our ups and downs. The year 2003 was particularly difficult for us. We separated for whole year after a difficult patch.
"I moved out of our house with my children - but the boys pleaded and said they wanted to go back and live with him. So I used to visit them almost every day to do homework."
After a torturous year, unexpected tragedy in the family brought the two together again.
When her father died her husband offered her great support. He made a firm resolution about making up with her after he attended the funeral.
"He said he was not leaving without me and that is how we got back together.
"The good thing is that when we separated, the relationship with my in-laws did not end."
The mayor's wife concedes the time apart was good for her own introspection about their relationship.
"It does not matter who you are, you will always have differences (in love and marriage). When I left him, I did not ask myself what was my contribution to the fall-out."
Though Twala-Tau is a hands-on mother she still has time to squeeze in mayoral spousal work on to her schedule.
Recently, she launched a mayoral spousal programme themed Love Jozi Generation.
The programme focuses on five areas including Youth - Love Jozi Generation, Burn Survivors, Orphans, Sport & Recreation For Social Change and Women Networking.