November 4th, 2010
03:47 PM GMT
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There has been a bit of a tit-for-tat war going on in the South African press between two outspoken men.

One, Kenny Kunene, a nightclub owner, held a lavish 40th birthday party recently, during which sushi was reportedly served on the bodies of half-naked women and guests drank expensive imported whisky and champagne.

Leading government and African National Congress leaders attended the party, according to press reports. Other newspapers show photos of the flamboyant Kunene standing in front of his expensive sports car, which has “So What” written on the number plates.

This kind of in-your-face conspicuous consumption has “sickened” the main labur union leader, COSATU’s Zwelinzima Vavi, who says this kind of behavior from the new black elite sets a bad example and insults the poor of South Africa.

Kunene says he spent more than $100,000 on the one-night bash - in a country where unemployment is rife and many families struggle to put food on the table.

My question is - how much “bling” is too much? Are African high rollers judged more harshly than, say, big-spending Russian oligarchs? Or is Vavi correct in saying that South Africa’s rich should be more circumspect with their wealth?

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Prime African

    It is actually sickening to see fellow Africans engage in these vulgar displays of opulence. Spending in a night what a majority of working Africans struggle to make in their entire lives has to be frowned upon. On the other hand it is his money and he can spend it how he wishes, I just hope he spares some of it to develop the village/township he originates from, because chances are it is still dirt poor.. God bless Africa

    November 5, 2010 at 2:48 am |
  2. kolobe

    one cannot be deciding how others should spend money.Kenny Kunene got his riches legitimately and should not be bothered by anyone.the south african white controlled media tend to descent on any black elite.last time it was the president's nephew. blacks(90% os the population) own 10% of south africa's wealth and some people still have the hate to riducule them.what about the 10% white minority that owns 90% of the wealth?we never read about them in the papers and the stats above are ridiculous

    November 5, 2010 at 7:20 am |
  3. Nzinga

    Hi Robyn,
    I think regardless of the unemployment rate or poverty, there are people who have managed to overcome obstacles and amass wealth should be allowed to enjoy their money.
    There does appear to be a double standard when it comes to African people flaunting their wealth, as reports will often be tinged with suspicion as to how the money was made.
    Personally I think its a matter of taste, if you're flamboyant and choose to throw ostentatious parties, then that's your call.
    There are people starving and homeless in America and the UK and that is juxtaposed by the flamboyant lifestyles of the super rich both in and out of the public life.

    November 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  4. Jude M.

    Funny this is coming from a CNN reporter. I don't know about her nationality, but if she's American, I wonder why she can't do a story on one of those jokes would would use their dollars as fabric for clothes if they could. Mr. Kunene can do what he deems fit with his wealth, which I hope is properly gotten. I wouldn't flaunt it if I had the same kind of wealth, but then, caution is not something everyone cares about.

    November 6, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  5. Christo

    Wow big surprize whites being blamed again for the problems in South Africa,apartheid ended more than fifteen years ago.
    if there are still gaps between the rich and poor its the ruling governents fault STOP blaming the whites its pathetic.
    That being said i agree Mr.Kunene maid his money and should spend it how he sees fit, even if he is wasting it.

    November 8, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  6. Zee

    Overseas soccer stars spend more than that on parties, American musician spend such amounts on jewellery (one item that is), and when an african does it we are always reminded of how hungry people are in African. Who says all americans are rich, are there no projects in america. There are poor people every where so stop flying the hungry card every time an african man celebrates. Go Kenney go.....

    November 8, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  7. DevColts

    If a person decides to spend their onw hard earned wealth in such a way, that is a matter for them. If, however, you are talking about a politician spending tax payers money to lavish himself with luxury, as we have seen with certain leaders, then I have a problem with it.

    November 8, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  8. yc cole

    The problem is that, as the reporter mentioned, this type of behavior is taking place in a country where a very large percentage of the population is living far below the poverty line and basically suffering for every piece of bread they acquire. On a continent where so many of us have so little, it is an insult for this particular individual to be flaunting his wealth so flagrantly. It is certainly not a charateristic of any African culture that I know of to show off what one has so publicly. This kind of behavior is looked down on as base and direspectful. It is fine to have the wealth. It is a completely different thing to show it off in this manner. That is a behavior western countries embrace. We are Africans. We do do not have to embrace all the behaviors that the West does.

    November 10, 2010 at 5:15 am |
  9. T. Johnson

    I think people are just drinking haterade.

    November 10, 2010 at 6:36 am |
  10. Dee

    In America rich people throw expensive parties like this all the time. Ones that are even more extravagant. And spend millions upon millions on their homes, car collections, art collections, etc. This money could have been given to the less fortunate, but they chose not to. They have just as much responsibility to do so as this night club owner.

    November 10, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  11. s.a .lartey

    i agree with the labour commision head, if money is equitably distributed Africa will not be as poor as it is. Love for humanity is substituted for parochial,selfish ostentatious living. Africa will continue to be poor once the mental faculties of such elites are not transformed from try to mimic western celebrant style.

    November 11, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Hasan

    As long as the current system condones these foul acts people will continue displaying them. We need true leaders who can set a proper example for the younger generation to follow. And I can, very very clearly cite the West as a very very poor example indeed.

    November 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  13. yc cole

    @ T. Johnson: Then you clearly must be an American

    November 12, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  14. jamal

    I believe those who have enough shud enjoy. Hweva, remember d poor.

    November 13, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  15. Marinus Vesseur

    The rich are to be despised, wherever they are.

    November 15, 2010 at 6:01 am |
  16. Wilfred Oluoch

    I wanna be a to Oprah and the Queen.
    Then I would setup fund to help all the poor kids in Africa who could benefit from better healthcare, education, and quality food.

    To be opulent anywhere is the world when your fellow man is suffering is just plain ... bad. (for not wanting to use stronger words).

    Wealth is a means of improving your own living standards, then that of your fellow man. That's what brings true happiness.

    November 15, 2010 at 7:15 am |
  17. maggi the cat

    it is his mone,y he earned it. He is fit to spend it anyway he chooses .I'm very sure no one tells this reporter on what he/she should spend his/her salary on.

    November 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  18. jay mono

    Excessive wealth, I think in this case is not fair on the other people. Although South Africa is a wealthy country in itself, there are still thousands of people living in extreme poverty. I think to an extent, he has a right to celebrate his success, but not to a point of vulgarity where he spends so much money on one party! True, other people do it all the time, In the United States, but I think he is trying too hard to be like them, that it's shameful. My suggestion would be that he try to be less Americanised and remember who he is and where he is as well.

    November 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  19. onyeka

    i do not think it's anyone's business if you are actually spending your own hard earned money. how you spend your hard earned money and what or where you spend it is highly irrelevant.

    November 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  20. Aminat Ozemoka

    I completely disagree with Onyeka's comment. It is people's business if you spend your ill wealth annoyingly. People who work hard to make their money, spend it responsibly and wisely, you may decide to pamper yourself or your loved ones once in a while but it should be within the bounds of reasoning.

    Why waste money on such ventures when millions of African children die of hunger, preventable and curable diseases.

    Why fluent your wealth if you can not impact people's lives positively.

    November 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  21. Nomski Zalloti

    All those who say it is not any body's business how he spends his hard earned money should first ask if Kenny Kunene gives some of his money to support his community or helps his family and what percentage he uses to empower the next generation or those in need.

    If he does support his community and his family then he can do what he likes with the rest although I still think he shouldn’t.

    You have not seen anything yet. Have you seen how Nigerians and people from DR Congo and other parts of Africa wastes money on parties, etc?

    December 1, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  22. Hellen

    one who understands just a bit of economics will tell you that its more beneficial to the country when he spends he should be encouraged to keep spending his money so it can circulate in the economy.
    secondly, as long as the money was earned legitimately, he has the right to spend it as he wishes, just because others sleep hungry does not mean that he has to, after all unfortunately, that is the way of capitalism!
    In fact he should be viewed as a hero an example that even the disadvantaged can rise to the top of the money tree. i bet there was a time in his life he didn't have much, now he has it all.

    December 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  23. Lawrence

    As an American, I feel that what Kenny does with his wealth is his business. He earned it, not one of the "poor" was there when he began to amass this wealth and the poor could use the lesson and begin to change their situation. We want to punish anyone with wealth, we want to hear how the rich has given, and given and given, until finally what? do you expect some sort of change if this man shares his wealth? the poor will always be with us, that is a fact.
    Stop using this guilt trip to get a rich man to give it up. Unfortunately when and if he gives it up there will be agencies and officials there to steal from the poor.

    December 4, 2010 at 6:42 am |
  24. yahsimi

    @ hellen well said, well said.

    December 20, 2010 at 6:20 am |
  25. greg

    @kolobe. same racist bull as on news 24. The whites have wealth because they CREATE it. Blacks in SA get wealth by taking it from whites.

    December 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm |

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