Connie: Iron lady of the screen

15 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Connie: Iron lady of the screen

The Sunday Mail

Zandile Zaza Ndlovu

IT was a hive of activity as the excitement of a special Mother’s Day treat was on the cards.

Everything started on May 6, 2022, which was a beautiful sunny day and the setting was the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International airport in Harare.

The sound of traditional drums, vocals and dance reminded me of the scenes from the movie “Coming To America” in which traditional performers welcomed a royal family.

In this case, it was to welcome television royalty, Connie Ferguson.

As she landed, there was sudden electric atmosphere and heightened anticipation.

Ferguson was accompanied by intimidating private security clad in black suits. I like to call them the “Men In Black”.

A bit of commotion ensued as she walked through the airport doors. Journalists and other people in attendance wanted to get glimpse of the top celebrity.

Ferguson’s big bright smile was the first thing to greet us.

It immediately brought us at ease.

We all got a sense of familiarity, that kind of feeling you grips you when you see a relative or friend.

Genuine, unassuming, no pretentious airs but a lovely human being, that was my first encounter with Ferguson.

Somehow, my pint sized, vertically challenged self managed to squeeze my way to the front.

Armed with my tools of trade and cameraman in tow, everything automatically fell in place.

I managed to attract the attention of the television royalty. As the towering beauty made her way towards me, I must say I felt as giddy as a kid in a candy store.

I could not believe this was happening.

In-between, my mind raced on how best I was going to interview her. I had to do it right for the sake of my fellow colleagues in the trade.

I finally threw caution to the wind and let my Zazaliciousness take over.

I welcomed her to our beautiful country of Zimbabwe and expressed our joy of having her visit us.

In the midst of executing my duty, I saw on my right Zodwa Mkandla beaming with happiness and to the left Honorable Tino Machakaire Deputy Minister of Youth, Arts, Sports and Recreation giving an approval nod.

Ferguson expressed that this was her maiden trip to Zimbabwe as I interviewed her.

“I am glad and delighted. Zimbabwe is so amazing. This is my first time in this country. But I think it just shows how we can be so close yet so far apart,” said Ferguson.

After the brief interview, she was swiftly whisked away to her next engagement.

Since the early 90s we have welcomed Ferguson into our homes as she assumed various characters for several television productions.

Her on screen persona as Karabo on “Generations” was amazing for years.

It does not end there, as her ageless beauty continues to entertain us as “The Queen” on Mzansi Magic.

The prospects of meeting her up close and personal was something I shared with many women.

“I have already started talking to some of the filmmakers I have been introduced to. I’m sure you have seen we are now trying to go regional, breach the gap involving other countries,” she added.

As part of her three day tour, first on the itinerary was the Networking Gala Dinner at the Meikles Hotel hosted by Zodwa Mkandla and the Zodwa Mkandla Foundation.

Connie Ferguson with Zodwa Mkandla (left) and Cynthia Bizure (right)

This was the hottest ticket in town as invited guests went all out to find designer garments from various fashion designers and boutiques like Posh and the Wedding Centre.

Ball gowns and fitted mermaid style dresses with sequins and crystals made up the black tie glam dress code.

Guests at the dinner gala included the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, Chipo Mutasa, managing director of Telone and chairperson of the Angel of Hope Foundation, Sibongile Moyo-Tafeni chief executive of Nedbank Zimbabwe led the VIP guests who were joined by the business community and socialites among them Mai Titi, Madam Boss and Enchantress.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa with Zodwa Mkandla (centre) and Connie Ferguson

Musician Sandra Ndebele delivered her signature Mother’s Day song “Londolozela.

The media fraternity was well represented.

“Ferguson’s visit carried the double significance of celebrating show business and the arts, and also the contribution of female artists and business persons who have excelled over the years in both Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“We are delighted as a nation to finally host you in our country, having been entertained and mesmerised by the world you brought to like on our screens and beyond. Indeed, you became family, long before you stepped foot in Zimbabwe.”

Needless to say I had to put my spin on the room as I was afforded the opportunity to introduce myself using my traditional Gatsheni clan names which delighted the audiences and had all the key speakers making reference to me.

Something that I greatly appreciated as it opened up an opportunity to have a good conversation with Ferguson.

“I think we should put ourselves more so that we are used more by the business and political side as they are beginning to recognise that business is business but arts and culture brings people together,” added Ferguson.

I must say I did shock her for a minute as she recognised my voice but my transformation from being the journalist to a belle at the ball caught her by surprise.

What I loved about our interaction was her genuine desire to know what I and the other ladies did for a living.

How we were navigating the various industry challenges we faced.

And in my particular case being a woman in film as a broadcast journalist.

We spoke about the opportunities that Ferguson Films as a platform would love to partner with Zimbabwean filmmakers as she remarked on having worked with the likes of Zimbabwean actor Jerome Galiao who had the role of Dos Santos on the “ “The Queen”.

“I am happy with the news that some local filmmakers want to work,” said Ferguson.

One of the take aways from meeting Connie was her selflessness. She posed for selfies with all the guests and danced the night away with us,” she said.

It truly was a wonderful networking dinner.

Day two saw the Nedbank Women in Business Conference held at The Venue in Avondale.

The Nedbank CEO, Sibongile Moyo-Tafeni, spoke of the importance of celebrating young women in business and having a space for interaction between seasoned women in business and them.

And this was reflective in the panel of speakers as Chiedza Mahovo a Chartered Accountant turned farmer and Tanya Masiyiwa executive board member at Econet Wireless representing young women in business and Ferguson as the keynote speaker.

The conference saw 100 women being motivated and challenged by Ferguson who shared her life story.

On her humble beginnings, having parents who valued education of the girl child. Her first marriage with its challenges.

Her finding her soulmate in Shona Ferguson. Being the power couple in industry and starting a lucrative business and legacy of Ferguson Films which has the highest number of television productions in South Africa.

Her beauty line and commercial success in retail stores.

Two moments in her address tugged at my heart. Her sharing about loss whilst being in the public eye.

That she had to endure acting pregnant on “Generations” when in real life she had suffered a miscarriage.

And on the loss of her husband Shona and how she went into a state of depression before finding ways to openly talk his passing and continue with her work.

Connie Ferguson later visited the Emerald Hill Children’s Home and on her last day held a Zumbathon with Zumba guru Zorro.

The key takeaways from the meeting was that Ferguson is a very grounded, self assured woman who has over the years mastered her business acumen and tied it with her persona.

What you see is what you get. She is non pretentious. She has a genuine love for people.

A genuine wish for the emancipation of women and a great love for children.

She encouraged parents to speak positivity and blessings in the lives of their children. As her own mother foretold of her beauty, poise and grace would be key in her success.

Now I know the big question is on Ferguson’s hair. It’s not a weave, ladies!

That hair is real. Its hers. And yes she has flawless skin. Her best asset for me, is her smile.

We look forward to seeing the relationship and sisterhood she has created with us in Zimbabwe grow and reap the mutual benefits.

It was an honor and pleasure meeting Connie Ferguson.


Zandile Zaza Ndlovu is an arts and  lifestyle correspondent and broadcast journalist. Follow her on twitter & instagram on @zazaliciosone.


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