The raw fishiness of culture
Peter Delmar: In my culture, we don't eat sushi off the bodies of half-naked women. In my culture we don't, truth be told, eat sushi at all.
When I was growing up there would be an extra frikadel on every plate when Dad got a bit of overtime money in. Once in a bright blue moon, on a Friday evening, we were treated to hake and chips from the fish shop on Main Road and when the old man's ship really came in, we would be driven, all five of us, in the Ford Cortina all the way to the Chicken Licken roadhouse in Constantia where we ate cheeseburgers and hotdogs and chips, nogal, served in the car on those little trays they stuck on Dad's side window. It was la dolce vita, except we didn't know it because we didn't speak Portuguese where we came from.
Like any once clodhopping proletarian of now somewhat elevated means, I remember the family treats of my childhood with the utmost fondness. And, true to my blue-collar Plumstead roots, I still don't eat raw fish.
In my culture, one doesn't throw birthday parties costing R700000 and, if one really has to do so, one certainly doesn't advertise the fact - or invite emotionally and intellectually challenged youth leaders to share in the hubris.
In 2003 Kenny Kunene was down and out. And a jailbird. In 2003 I was down and out and a journalist but, by the skin of my teeth, still at large.
Fast forward seven years and Kunene is fabulously wealthy, owning nightclubs and mines and things and throwing R700000 parties at his Sandton nightclub. Fast forward said seven years and I am still down and out but that, I suppose, is all my own fault.
Kunene celebrated his 40th birthday with the bash that caused all the trouble. When photos appeared of him swigging outsized bottles of champagne and, particularly, of the fish on the girls, Cosatu bigwig Zwelinzima Vavi waded into Kunene all guns blazing.
Vavi accused the "predatory elite" of "spitting in the faces of the poor" with their ostentatious displays of wealth. For those of us on the outside of the predatory elite, it's been mighty hard to disagree with Comrade Z. In a country where grinding poverty is the daily lot of most of our compatriots, if gobbling sushi from the bellies of prone young models happens to be your thing, for crying in a bucket, please do it in private, without letting City Press get hold of the photos.
But enough of the Kunene bashing. In case you missed it, last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week, an occasion marked by a flood of seminars, workshops and press releases telling us lots of things about small business which we all already knew. Unlike other countries, where the political elite pay lip service to entrepreneurship, here our highs and mighty were way too busy counting their loot to say something nice about the toiling entrepreneurial class.
Kunene at least, took the time to do so. I read in the papers that he addressed one of the many seminars, in Sandton, telling an audience of hundreds that, when he came out of prison, the stigma of a criminal record meant he started from "minus zero".
Kunene, to his credit, has attempted to explain in some detail how it is that he came by his millions. It's a scarcely believable story, starting with him hawking books written by a fellow ex-con but then the best entrepreneurial stories usually beggar belief. At least, as far as I know, there have been no credible allegations that his gains were of the overtly ill-gotten variety.
It is worrying, though, that arriviste high flyers such as Kunene will insist on hanging out with leading lights of our nation's kleptocracy. As they say in my culture, one is always going to be judged by the company one keeps.
Kunene has, if nothing else, given me some food for thought. For my 40th I fancy getting the Missus to wear lingerie and serve me a nice lasagna on her belly (she can use tinfoil if she insists). Maybe she could talk a few of the ladies at book club into adding some lustre to the occasion. But you won't be reading about it in the papers because the shindig won't cost R700000 and I'm not going to invite any ANC types.
- It is strongly suspected that Mr Delmar is fibbing about his age - Ed