Controversial and unapologetic, Kenny Kunene rose fr humble beginnings in the Free State to Djaying in high school,to a life of crime that landed him in prison to success as a businessman and now a Reality tv star watched in 47 countries.
With his trademark two watches, one set on Joburg time and the other on New York time, Kunene better known as the King of Sushi @zarsushiking arrives late for our 10am appointment on a warm Thursday morning at Nelson Mandela Square.
He apologises profusely and assures us that despite his late arrival, he is not a man on African time,’ because a man on African time doesn’t have a lot done.
Dressed in suede brown shoes, a matching shirt and his trademark designer sun glasses, Kunene greets all the waiters by name, smiles at a few admirers, answers his phone which is constantly ringing and then switches it off.
He apologies one more time before announcing that we now have his undivided attention. A few pleasantries follow before we begin our day in the life of Kenny Kunene.
Q. Can you introduce Kenny Kunene to our readers?
Kenny Kunene is a simple man from Kutlwanong. I moved in with my grandparents after my parents divorced. It was a small house with no electricity and no fridge.
My grandmother was a midwife and my grandfather was a retired teacher. We had little when I was growing up, I used to come from school and eat pap and jam because there was nothing else to eat.
Most of the time my grandmother was the only one with a job and she supported the whole family. She was hardworking but also very strict. She had this rule that if you didn’t go to church on Sunday you didn’t get to eat “7 colours.” You know the Sunday meal with rice, beetroot, coleslaw and meat and “thoromo ya lefatshe” jelly and custard (big smile one face as he explains) She taught me a lot and she sacrificed a lot to get mean education.
My grandparents are my role models. They didn’t have much to offer us but they did the best they could. I admire them for that.
Q. What is your favourite colour?
Q. What is your favourite dish?
Dumplings and oxtail.
Q. What book are you currently
Decoded by Jay-Z
Q. Who is your role model and why?
My grandparents as I have already mentioned but also Hugh Hefner because of his lifestyle and Robert Mugabe because he is a strong individual who does not give in to bullies. He is not intimidated by the west especially UK and the USA. I don’t like bullies,that is why I don’t like Vavi (COSATU leader, Zwelinzima Vavi) because he is a bully.
Q. You can’t get enough of?
Q. You are so over?
Haters and pretenders
Q. What is your favourite movie?
Q. What is your favourite holiday destination?
Locally I have to say Durban, in Africa it’s Lesotho and the world it’s definitely Ukraine.
Q. Who are your favourite musician?
Notorious B.I.G. and Whitney Houston
Q. What is your dream car?
(Laughs) It can’t be a dream when I am already driving it, Porsche 911.
Q. Who is your best friend?
My business partner Gayton Mcken
Q. And who is your worst enemy?
Malcolm X from South Africa
Q. What was your childhood nickname?
Tony Montana because of the Scarface movie
Q. Where and when are you happiest?
When I am around ordinary people and beautiful women. I love people like the people in the Alexander. They are so easy going and grateful for the little things in life. (Laughs)
Every man loves the company of a beautiful woman and I am no different. That is why I admired Gaddafi, he was always surrounded by beautiful women all the time just like Hugh Hefner.
Q. Who inspires Kenny Kunene?
I am inspired by ordinary people. People who make something out of nothing. A person who is able to move their life forward positively inspire me.
The single mother who gets her children through university , the man on minimum wage, how he puts his family first and provides for them as best as he can and the child from the rural area who comes to the city and makes it big because of education and is able to better the lives of his parents.
Q. What do you say to people who say you are a bad role model for the youth?
I have worked very hard for everything I have in my life and I want to celebrate that. I am not rubbing it anybody’s face. I believe that when young people see that ordinary people can come from nothing and make something out of their lives it inspires them to aim higher.
People should not be afraid to dream big and aim higher.
I admit I am human I have made mistakes but life has given me a second chance and I have gone after it with everything I have.
Q. You have been very vocal about your support for polygamy, do you believe that there is still a place for polygamy in today’s world.
You know what? We all come from a background of polygamy. All Africans are descendents of people who used to practice polygamy so why should we be ashamed of it now.
In life if you are ashamed of your own culture it gives other people room to disrespect it. As Africans we continue to give people room to criticize us by not taking pride in our culture.
Most men cheat, at least in a polygamist family all the women know about each other so there is no need for cheating,
lying and sneaking around and all the children are acknowledged.
You have married men who have children with their mistresses and those children are never acknowledged publicly as being his children. That is sad and it shouldn’t happen.
Q. Tell us about your reality television show, So What?
So What is my life motto. People like saying Kenny this, Kenny that and I always say I am living my life so what? We are in our second season now on etv every Monday at 830pm.
The show is available to viewers in 47 countries. It is a high production show that showcases the lives of me and my crew. This season we travel to Ukraine, attend a royal wedding in Lesotho and people will get to see me DJ, which is a passion that I have had since high school.
Q. What attributes are essential for success?
I believe that one has to be very hard working but you also need a bit of luck and you have to be pioneering to be a trendsetter.
I have always endeavored to be the first to do something new and if I don’t do it first then I do it bigger and better. I am a trendsetter.
Q. What makes a successful leader?
A leader should be someone who listens to the people around him, have the strength to make tough decisions yet humble enough to get inspiration for others.
Q. What is your most valued possession?
My porsche 911 and my family. I don’t have a problem with people saying whatever they want about
me. I am a man, I can take it but if somebody goes after my family then its definitely war. I don’t forgive people who try to harm my family. I work very hard to give them the best I can. They mean the world to me!
Q. How do you give back to your community?
Giving back to my community is very important to me. I have a charity foundation.
I do a lot of charity work but I don’t run to the media every second and say “Ooh look I am giving food parcels come and take pictures of me”.
I don’t do that. One should remain humble when giving back. the Bible teaches that.
Q. What can we expect from Kenny Kunene in future?
Well you know my album Zar Sushi mix is now in stores. I am also working on a record label. I have so many young producers that I worked with and now I want to work with them so we can develop their talent. We are also growing and branching out the Zar brand. We are looking at opening up a branch in Durban or Kimberley very soon. we are always doing new things and pioneering unique ideas, we continue to get some inspiration from around the world. In life you can either lead or follow and the Zar brand was created to lead.
Q. So when can we expect the Zar Sushi mix to hit Botswana or maybe a branch of Zar Lounge?
Ke rata batho ba Botswana, the women are so beautiful, ba rata gore ee rra” (Laughs). I will make it to Botswana very soon.