“I was smart for 68 years. This [agreeing to be interviewed] was a dumb move.”
That is what billionaire Johann Rupert, 68, said on Tuesday evening in a televised interview with MSG Afrika Group chairperson Given Mkhari.
In the interview that has drawn widespread reaction, Rupert touched on Nelson Mandela, race, jobs, corruption, the so-called Stellenbosch mafia and much more.
Here are some key quotes from the interview that everybody is talking about:
- “They [the older generation] didn’t go and buy BMWs and hang around Taboo and The Sands [nightclubs] all the time. I hear this narrative that Madiba was a sell-out. It’s totally disrespectful. I don’t see your age group, call me ou toppie [old man], I don’t see you going to jail for two, nearly three decades. No, you’ll miss The Sands. In a sense, be respectful to your elders. Your generation, I haven’t seen leadership coming out. Remember, I met Steve Biko when he was in his 20s and he wouldn’t have carried on in Taboo.”
Later, when Rupert was told his remarks were being perceived as racist:
“I didn’t say 'black people', I said 'people'. Do you think white kids don’t do the same? Do you think a whole generation of children don’t do that same? What I’m trying to say is a previous generation of children didn’t do it. There was a totally different generation, people who grew up in the depression. Simply, there is globally a sense of 'consume now'. That is all I said to him [Mkhari]. If people want to take it personally, they should really question as to what the parents gave up, what the grandparents gave up. I’m talking in general, I’m not saying colour bias, race bias, sex bias … I’m sorry if it came across as racist. It’s not racist. It is a philosophy that people must understand that you can’t consume now and pay for it tomorrow.”
- “I have been accused of a lot of things. Luckily, my age group knows that I’m not a racist. I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but the people who are now in their 60s know that I’m not a racist. And you know, it’s that old thing, when you run out of arguments, in the old days when you were against apartheid you were called a communist ... How do you defend against being called a racist? How do you defend that? You can call anybody a racist. Great! Luckily I have never been called that in public. I have never been called that in private and luckily my friends know that it doesn’t exist and I actually take a bit of exception to that.”
- “Yes, I’m white. I’m a white person according to your terminology. You know, this stuff is also so passé. Hopefully our children’s generation will get over this. Granted, then the economic disparities must be wiped out.”