I have seen many malls launched at a fever pitch and sometimes just below, but what I saw yesterday was straight out of Hollywood. Soweto has definitely become the focal point of South Africa.
But no one knows that better than the master of ceremonies Kid Mabutho Sithole. He kept stiff upper-lipped whites in stitches and sold them the idea of dining and shopping in Soweto as best as anyone can.
Although the official opening of the Maponya Mall in Dube was a grand affair, it was clouded by the sullen weather. Colourful people like Kid, Bantu Holomisa, Desmond Mabuza and Maponya's righthand man, Chichi, made the launch an affair to remember.
To be honest though, someone went cold turkey on the budget. The marquee, which hosted only about 300 people, was crawling with incompetent waiters, cold grub and bad service. But black people being loyal cheerers, were the best audience I have seen in years.
Gwen Gill would have had a field day with the VIPs. They came in their spring couture, tried their musical luck with the deejay and tried to park in the most visible parking spot.
Only problem was, the cars bracketing fellow drivers in, were worth ten times their own cars.
But as soon as Nakedi Ribane, author of Beauty - A black perspective made her quiet entrance, the upwardly mobile blacks were ecstatic. That women still has black men eating out of her hand, 20 years after they should have stopped.
They say the mall is a 28- year-old dream that even the big Tlou-Richard Maponya himself almost gave up on. In a very heavy-breathing speech, Maponya spent most of his time thanking the big white guns for believing in his dream. Despite his departed beloved Mrs Maponya not at his side, he still put Pavarotti to shame in his stylish black suit.
And the affluent Soweto merchants looked on in a daze as Maponya related his experiences and dreams for the mall.