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R50 000 for dinner with Barack Obama

President Cyril Ramaphosa and former American president Barack Obama at the annual Mandela Lecture at Wanderers Stadium.
Barack Obama President Cyril Ramaphosa and former American president Barack Obama at the annual Mandela Lecture at Wanderers Stadium.
Image: Alon Skuy

Dinner with former US president Barack Obama doesn't come cheap. Just ask the people who attended a gala dinner after his Mandela lecture on Tuesday…because they forked out R50 000 for the privilege.

Celebs dropped as much as R50 000 to dine with former US president Barack Obama and other dignitaries following Tuesday's Mandela lecture.

The gala dinner was themed "night of a hundred words" and held in Nasrec‚ Johannesburg. Joining Obama as the headline VVIP guests were President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ Mandela’s widow Graca Machel‚ former president Kgalema Motlanthe‚ and human rights lawyer and friend of Mandela‚ George Bizos.

Guests‚ including Maria Ramos‚ Trevor Manuel‚ Herman Mashaba‚ Zweli Mkhize and Matheto Nyathi dined on beef stew‚ kingklip and oysters‚ while quaffing pricey whiskey.

After Barack Obama reminded South Africans that “yes‚ we can” at the annual Mandela lecture‚ he addressed a more elite room at the gala dinner.

It was no ordinary dinner‚ considering that a ‘cheap seat’ set guests back by R15 000 and R30 000.

The event was sponsored by Absa and the Nelson Mandela Foundation‚ with proceeds going towards funding the work of the foundation.

The gala‚ like the lecture‚ is an annual event meant to thank those involved and celebrate the lecture – Tuesday’s edition of which was delivered by Obama at the Wanderers Stadium to some 15 000 people.

The packages for the gala‚ contained in the invitation‚ shows VVIP seating for 10 people cost R500 000 per table and a table for 16 people cost R800 000.

Tier 1 seating cost R400 000 per table and a regular tier 4 seat cost between R15 000 and R30 000.

But what does R15 000 or R30 000 get you?

Last night’s guests got a performance by Micasa’s J’Something‚ Lira‚ Judith Sephuma‚ Amanda Black and Vusi Mahlasela. They performed a rendition of Johnny Clegg’s anti-apartheid song Asimbonanga.

For starters‚ guests enjoyed what was dubbed “Foraged Qunu – a tribute to a herd boy”. This dish was described as local ashed goats cheese‚ textures of beetroot‚ charred corn and toasted hazelnuts delicately adorned with a mesclun of baby herbs‚ served with a bursting blood orange vinaigrette.

The main course offered three options‚ each served with isiphingo honey roast butternut and morogo. Guests could choose between Moretsele-style beef stew served with soft maize‚ grilled malay kingklip served on a scallion mash potato with a decadent coconut and tumeric latte cream and a vegetarian pescatarian vegan option of king oyster mushrooms on spicy edamame mash with grilled asparagus and lightly pickled radish.

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