Busta’s person of the Week: From Mayson, N.C., to the Mandela mansion in South Africa: Part 1

Busta’s person of the Week: From Mayson, N.C., to the Mandela mansion in South Africa: Part 1
July 01
14:42 2020

By Busta Brown

One evening in the mid-1990s, Celennhle Dlamini, the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, called to ask if I would MC a fashion show for Bennett College in Greensboro. I was truly honored and extremely excited to meet one of South Africa’s royalty. Celennhle asked if it was ok if she brought a friend along, and of course I said yes. In turn, I asked if my best friend Timothy Maurice Webster could attend as well. It turned out to be somewhat of a double date, and one of the best times in my nearly 30 years in North Carolina. 

After that night the four of us hung out nearly every day. A few months later I went to San Francisco for two weeks to visit my family and when I returned, it was crystal clear Tim and C had developed a very close bond. I’ll never forget the look on his face when it was obvious that I knew they were digging each other. “Dude, it came outta nowhere. We just clicked!” he said with excitement. 

That was the beginning of how a country boy that grew up on a farm in Mayson, N.C., years later sat and watched a rugby match in the living room of President Nelson Mandela’s mansion … with Mandela himself! Tim shared that amazing moment with me. “The first time I had a chance to meet him properly was nerve-wracking! The world was celebrating and acknowledging his birthday, yet all he wanted to do was to spend time with his grandkids and family. He invited them over to watch a sporting event, but most of his grandkids wasn’t interested in watching the game, so they went to the back of the house to chill. So, now I’m sitting in the living room with Nelson Mandela and it was like five of us. He’s sitting with his legs up watching this rugby match and my drink is sitting next to his drink,” Tim said with a great deal of excitement. 

As he continued with his amazing journey, I’m imagining my best friend sharing the same space with Nelson Mandela! A moment that kings, queens, presidents, and A-list celebrities made many attempts, yet never experienced. Tim continued his story about watching a rugby match with the iconic leader. “It was crazy being in the same room as one the greatest icons of our time, a man I truly admired. And also the most uncomfortable situation, because when the team scores, you can’t high five Nelson Mandela! Like what are you supposed to do?” he said jokingly. Then we cracked up laughing for at least two minutes. He confirmed how exclusive and rare it is to meet the former president of South Africa. “I don’t mind you printing this, because it’s a very interesting story. No one has ever talked about this before, not even in South Africa. Every celebrity from around the world wanted to come take a photo with him. They believed in his vision, so after taking a picture, they would use the opportunity to donate money to his foundation. When the celebrities visited South Africa, his grandkids would entertain them as well. Everybody has come here to try and take a photo. In 2008, Jay-Z and Beyonce came to the foundation headquarters and all of us wanted to be there. I came over-dressed; I had on everything I thought you should wear. I looked like a combination of a pimp, a preacher and a businessman. I over did it, Busta,” he said while howling with laughter. 

He gathered his composure and proceeded as I sat in awe. “Jay-Z and Beyonce’ and other celebrities come to South Africa to see Mandela. No matter who they’ve met, this was different. The most famous people are starstruck when they see him for the first time. Some of them don’t even try to play it cool. Jay-Z’s mom asked me to take pictures of her in front of Mandela’s different memorabilia. She was one of the most beautiful and sweetest people I’ve met, and I met most everyone.”

According to Tim, Jay-Z and Beyonce’ were a bit shy. He jokes, “They were like, I see ya’ll but where is Mandela,” and I lost it. I nearly fell out of my chair! Because of my crazy and humorous imagination, I envisioned that moment and their expressions and I hollered laughing again. Tim continued, “I gave Jay-Z a copy of my book about personal branding called ‘Thinking About You.’ I had mentioned him and Beyonce’ in separate chapters and I signed the area where I mentioned them. Jay read a little of the book and said this is about personal branding. He shared it with his wife and the three us had a very fun and interesting conversation. Beyonce’ and I sat next to each other talking until Mandela came. After having lunch with Mandela, Jay and Bey were walking to their limo. He looks at me, held up my book and said, ‘This is good.’ As they were driving off, he rolled down the window and held up the book again. Dude, that was amazing!” 

The second time he met Nelson Mandela was one of the world leader’s most joyous moments and occasion. Tim became very emotional as he told me this part of his journey. “It was at my ex-wife’s sister Zaziwe’s wedding. It was an extremely happy moment for Mandela, because it was the first big wedding that he was able to attend. Zaziwe is the first grandchild that he was able to name in prison. He wasn’t able to see his family until my ex-wife’s mom married another person of royalty. Because of that, they got royal privileges to visit Mandela in prison. During that time, Zaziwe was just born, so they took her to visit. And that’s when he named her. Her name means hope. So, at her wedding, he’s able to see the first grandchild he named get married.” 

I remember years ago when Tim first shared this story with me. He was just as excited for Mandela’s happiness today as he was then. 

So, how did Timothy Maurice Webster’s journey go from growing up on a farm in Mayson, N.C., to becoming a very successful businessman, speaker, author and podcast host in South Africa? We have to rewind to my return from visiting my family in San Francisco. Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Celennhle Dlamini, and Tim met during a meeting where I was MC for her fashion show at Bennett College. After the fashion show, Tim and I became very close friends with Celennhle. Within three to six months, they became more than friends. I told Tim that everyone who met through me always marries. He laughed, “Not me, bro. You know I’m not the marrying type.” Which I knew, but I also know the track record of married couples that met through me. They eventually became the tenth. It was a whirlwind romance that took him across the world. If I continue, it’ll take up the entire paper. 

So next week I’ll tell you more about this rollercoaster ride in Part 2 of Tim’s journey. You’ll enjoy the exciting and very interesting traditions he went through for approval to marry Celennhle. Also, his amazing encounters with Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and a host of others. 

Get ready! 

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