Every moment with him has been memorable'
For over 40 years, Jane Dlamini, Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini’s wife relishes every moment spent with him, both the good and bad times.
Jane acknowledges that the PM has been her pillar of strength and is grateful to God for giving her a man of his calibre who has not only stood by her side but took great care of their children and grandchildren.
She says as a person from the rural areas, though educated, her husband has been a great influence in her life in terms of how he relates to others, conducts himself and his resilience to succeed.
"To me, this was important because as a young girl, I was able to emulate all his good attributes," she says.
Jane recalls with passion how they tried to spend each day of every moment together, even when the PM had to go overseas to acquire his second degree.
"He has played a major and magnificent role in bringing up our children. I have siblings who I could have looked up to in bringing up the children but he has always been there. He did not want them to suffer. Even though he usually had a tight work schedule, he always made sure that he was there for the children, which is quite admirable," she says.
When the PM went to the United States of America (USA) to do his second degree, Jane was by his side and as a result, she also got an opportunity to enrol and pursue her studies.
"Dlamini has never been the typical Swazi man who believes that women should be left at home. Even when it comes to making tough decisions, my opinion counted as well and he always embraced it," she adds. One aspect that Jane admires about her husband is his ability to juggle his hectic work schedule and continue to provide for the family.
"My husband has always been particul
ar with family, including his parents. No matter how busy he could be, he always found time to visit his parents and make sure that their needs were well taken care of. Over the years, I have learnt to appreciate him more and learnt tremendously from his management style, problem solving ability and importance of family," Jane says.
With the PM turning 70 years old today, Jane says this means a lot to her.
"The English believe in the adage that as you grow, you mellow and that is exactly what is happening with my husband. With me, each time he is not around, I feel like a part of me is missing, as if I’m incomplete. It is only when I speak to him that I fill fulfilled again. I believe 70 years is an important age. I often look around and realise how other couples’ relationships have gone messy but ours is still intact and I think it’s the mellowing," she says between laughing.
Jane wishes that her husband could even reach 300 years but quickly adds ‘I wonder how he would look?’
She describes her husband as a disciplinarian and recalls how some of her children would at times want to go to town on weekends. "My husband would ask them if they had any money to spend in town and they would respond to the negative. He would then tell them that they had no business in town since they didn’t even have money," she recalls again giggling.
In spite of this, Jane concedes that their children have never been trouble makers, even at the teenage stages, stating that they have never had problems with alcohol and drug abuse.
Even though the PM spent most of his youthful days in school, he never overlooked his passion for farming and as his wife recalls, he would at times visit his aunt’s farm just to rekindle his farming passion. "He often told me that he felt so good to see a seed grow," she adds.
‘He is much more than a father to me’
When I was asked by the Times to write this article, it seemed natural to say yes, I mean I would be talking about a man I have known all my life. Where do I begin?
Thinking about how this man has moulded my life is easy but when I have to explain it to people it becomes more difficult. Cliché as it might be, describing the kind of person my daddy is really is hard. Not in the sense that I will not have anything to say, but hard because there is just too much to say and finding the perfect words to make people understand how I feel about him would really be down playing the role he has in my life. Daddy is much more than a father to me, he is the benchmark, the standard for what a man is and I think that is how it should be for all girls.
There are so many fond memories of having him as my dad. My father became Minister for Finance when I was in Grade 1. Because of his job he travelled a lot. Mum would always take us to the airport to pick him up and I would literally run into his arms from pure glee and excitement of seeing my daddy. Thinking about it now it never really occurred to me that he might be carrying something; if he would he had to drop it because his princess was racing towards him with a big smile and open arms. Remembering things like that to this day makes me smile.
Every girl dreams of their father walking her down the aisle for her wedding day. My dream was not different. I told him I wanted him to stand out from everyone else so I asked him to wear tails and a top hat. Showing what a good sport he was he did and looked absolutely stunning. When the marriage officer asked ‘who gives this girl’, with great pride and with that distinct voice he said "I am giving my baby…." It was really sweet and quite typical of the relationship that we share.
Another fond memory was when I was at university. Well since high school I had experimented with hair colour and the older I got the lighter my hair became. Then one day at university I decided to go platinum blond. It coincided with a return from some far away land. Being the good daughter that I am I decided to pick him up at the airport. I was excited to see him but the horror of seeing his daughter looking like a punk from the 1980s was very visible on his face. He had to do an interview with the media and anyone could tell that he was very shocked. But like the trooper that he was, he hugged me, told me I looked good and did his interview.
Ours is a really special relationship. We laugh a lot he has a really good sense of humour. We talk a lot and we share a lot. He gives good advice and is very understanding when you make a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, he has a temper but you would never see it as unfair or wrong because there is always that ‘uvile’? ‘Uvakutsini’?
That accompanied a scolding or a beating. But as my siblings and I grew older we were spoken to like adults and always had to account for our actions. He always made sure we stuck together at all times. I remember him telling me that my friends are Muzi and Fikile, which really annoyed me, being a teenager at the time.
Hard work and always doing my best is one of the important lessons I have learnt from my father. Daddy always made sure I did my homework, studied everyday and got good grades. I really tried never to disappoint him at school and he also knew that my passion was music.
From a young age I sang in the house, at church and he supported me, but my schoolwork had to be done first. Get that degree then do what you want afterward. It turns out I enjoyed my degree so much I decided to teach instead of being the next Whitney Houston.
As daddy turns 70 it is my wish that he be blessed with many more years, that he be blessed with health and wealth and unlimited happiness. I love you daddy. Happy birthday Nkhosi Dlamini, Wena Wekunene, wena weluhlanga lwakaNgwane, wena lomuhle kakhulu, wena lowacedza Lubombo ngekuhlehletela, sidlubula dlendle sakaLobamba. Nkhosi!!
‘He is not the tough man that people think he is’
For former Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital CEO Futhi Mdluli, the prime minister is nothing but an old time friend with whom they share some good memories.
Their friendship dates back to the 1960s when the premier was trying his luck with Jane, now his wife. Mdluli played a part in their relationship as she would sometimes ‘assist’ in making sure that the prime minister got the chance of meeting the love of his life.
Jane and Futhi were the biggest of friends while they were students at the University of Botswana.
"While at the University of Botswana between 1969 and 1973, me and Jane shared a room and this made us the closest of friends. During the holidays, we used to get piece jobs so because she was from Pigg’s Peak, she stayed with me at Msunduza where I stayed. So the prime minister spent so many months at my home’s gate while courting her," she laughs.
The two love-birds got married even before the two girls completed at the university and during the wedding, Mdluli was a witness for the groom.
"From there on, we became more than just friends, we were like family so much that our children even became close as they grew up. So we are more like family with the Dlaminis. I like the fact that despite his achievements, Dlamini has not changed from what he was when we first met. He is very protective of his family and I like that."
Besides their friendship, Mdluli says the premier has some qualities which she feels make him a real man. These include the fact that since his younger days, the man has always loved reading and working hard for his education something which he has passed on to his children.
She loves the fact that the premier is a man who makes up his mind about something and sticks to it.
"When he puts his mind to something akancandzeki," she says adding that he excels in everything he does be it farming or accounts.
Even though most people regard the prime minister as a tough man, Mdluli says he has a soft side and cracks jokes when he is in the company of people close to him.
"Wuuu ah that one can crack jokes like everyone else. I remember while he was working at the Ministry of Finance and I was at Public Service, there was this woman who everyone was scared of as it was alleged that she could beat the heck out of any man. So the premier said to me ‘Futhi please show me this woman that beats up men so that I can keep my distance from her lest I find myself beaten up too’ and we laughed!"
As old time buddies, Mdluli wishes Dlamini all the best as he continues to shine.
"Akakhule akhokhobe! May God bless him with everything!
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