THOSE close to the late socialite and I daresay entrepreneur Genius Kadungure – popularly known as Ginimbi – say he was a nice, easy-going and animated guy, at once controversial and dodgy.
Ginimbi died last Sunday in a horrific Rolls-Royce Wraith car crash, together with three friends. The accident was the talk of the town the whole week.
Social media was abuzz with it. The story was also carried in South Africa and Britain.
Even BBC News Pidgin carried it. The intro was: “Ginimbi na popular Zimbabwean socialite and millionaire until I’m death for road accident”.
When I first read this Nigerian version of the story, I thought someone was trying to be funny till I realised it was from BBC Pidgin.
I never knew Ginimbi that much personally, although we talked occasionally and had drinks from time to time, especially in Johannesburg, South Africa, particularly at Rockets in Bryanston and other clubs in Sandton like Taboo and Meat Lounge in Sunninghill.
On the occasions when we spoke over the phone, drinks and other places he was always a cool and humble guy. Of course, as Ronaldo would say, subtly referring to Messi, sometimes too much humility borders on vanity.
We had a mutually respectful relationship. He would joke whenever we met at airports that it was obvious I didn’t have money as I was always carrying travel bags.
He claimed people with money like him carried small bags (full of money, of course) and a beautiful woman by the side, as they either have enough means to buy what they want ahead or had houses in different places. He claimed he carried a small bag full of cash between Johannesburg, Harare and Gaborone because he had houses there with
everything he needed – designer clothes, shoes, jewellery, and supercars.
That was the subject of one of our conversations one day in a Gautrain trip from Sandton to OR Tambo to catch a flight to Harare from Johannesburg. I always joked that if you work and waited for 30 days for a salary like some of us there was no room for that debauchery in the name of happiness.
You wouldn’t spend hard-earned money like confetti at a wedding. He would he say he was no longer interested “in the poverty model” of waiting for 30 days to be paid.
But then again, like everybody else, what I quickly came to realise and watch from a distance, was his conspicuous consumption. I’m a not a big fan of that sort of lifestyle. Admittedly I sometimes hang around with those kind of characters. I fit in every social setting; from Gomora to Sandton.
I’m cool with it. The issue of conspicuous consumption is always controversial. In discussing and debating it, a clash between freedom, personal choices in life and societal expectations –including morality – quickly emerges. People would say let him enjoy his money he worked for it. Others would argue that such sort of lifestyle can’t make him a role model in society; it teaches kids to think wheeling and dealing is better than hard work. It also makes people think living a champagne lifestyle means someone is happy.
People forget after champagne showers, boozing and debauchery, there is reality out there that will humble you.
Ginimbi lived a champagne lifestyle – literally. He loved finer things in life. Even Hollywood celebs would envy him. For who wouldn’t want to have mansions, supercars, expensive jewelry and designer clothes; popping champagne every weekend? A harem of beautiful women? Other people would love that, but not everyone.
Yet the dictum that money can’t buy happiness is true. Besides happiness, there are other things in life money can’t buy: love, true friends and integrity.
Conspicuous consumption has always been there in society since time immemorial. So whether Ginimbi set a good or wrong precedent will always be debated.
It is not for us to judge, we all have choices in life. He chose his lifestyle, let’s live ours without succumbing to the excesses of self-destructive conspicuous consumption, an ostentatious display of wealth for social status or prestige – which sometimes simply boils down to vanity after all.