​Obed Mbatha does hospitality best

Obed Mbatha, head doorman of the Hilton Durban, has been welcoming guests with a warm smile and positive energy since he started working there in 1997.

This week he was busy welcoming delegates from various African companies and organisation to Africa’s Travel Indaba, formerly the Tourism Indaba, which takes place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre from May 8-10.

Mbatha has an endearing demeanour and a warm, energetic character. In 2013, the Hilton Worldwide group honoured him with the Light and Warmth Award, in appreciation of his unique style of welcoming visitors. With the award, Mbatha took top spot among 3 000 of the group’s employees, which he literally wears as a badge of honour among the various souvenir badges that embellish his khaki and black coat.

“I started collecting these badges in 2001 to create an image for myself. I wanted to make myself accessible and use these badges as an ice-breaker, to start up conversations between myself and the guests. This is part of my story telling,” Mbatha explains. Some of his badges are tiny flags from various countries such as Scotland, Sweden and Canada; others are emblems of various organisations in Africa and from further afield.

A father of four, Mbatha says he loves his job so much that even at age 76 he is not ready to retire. “It is an understatement to say I am enthusiastic about my job. It makes me very happy, because I love people. I am interested in their various cultures and I do all I can to make them feel welcome. Even if I am put on retirement tomorrow, I would still like to go on and continue using my energy in another job,” he said.

Mbatha says when TV arrived in South Africa he became aware of the wider world, full of interesting people, and he wanted to meet them.

“I thought one day I would see some of these people. God is great: he gave me this job and I was able to greet and welcome guests from all over the world in my lifetime.”

Mbatha says during the course of his career in hospitality he has met various interesting characters from politicians, to sports personalities and celebrities.

“I have met many presidents from the African Union. Some of those who stand out in my mind include former president of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda, who was very happy to see me here and he even wished me well. I have also met former president Nelson Mandela through my job, then came Thabo Mbeki and we had a nice chat. Former president Jacob Zuma is also one of the guests I have welcomed here and I have also met Bollywood stars. I have also welcomed (former speaker of the National Assembly) Frene Ginwala; all these are people of our land, my brothers and sisters whom I love,” says Mbatha.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

Police use sjamboks and rubber bullets to enforce Hillbrow lockdown

In one of South Africa’s most densely populated suburbs, the national lockdown is being implemented with force

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

The rule of law in times of crisis: Covid-19 and...

Under a state of national disaster, some rights may be suspended. But it is critical to remember that the Constitution itself is not suspended

Test backlog skews SA’s corona stats

With thousands of samples still waiting to be processed, labs are racing to ramp up testing to help the government gain a better idea of how prevalent Covid-19 really is

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories