They killed Kenny! You bastards!

A thousand columnists around the country are throwing their hands up in despair as the ANC muzzle Kenny “The Wasabi” Kunene’s penchant for pouring bubbly fellatio metaphors down women’s throats, and indulging in that ancient Afro-Asian ritual as old as time itself, the conflation of women with a certain visceral fishiness.

Where will young South Africans get their role models from now? Are the youth doomed to going back to eating unhealthy fried chicken from buckets? So much for freedom of expression. How did it come to this, when a bunch of conservative sticks in the mud can cripple a flamboyant character’s natural desire to express himself? That was a rhetorical question, by the way. How it came to this is outlined below, a blow-by-bite account of the travails of the Sushi King, gills and all. We trace his progress from woman power icon to fishy businessman.

  • September 6 2009
    No stranger to irony, Kenny Kunene first gets picked up on the social gossip scene, spotted getting cosy with a soapie actress at a party “to celebrate woman power” at the Modus Vivendi in Bryanston.
  • May 2 2010
    Making friends in high places, Bra Kunene co-sponsors a “pre-World Cup tournament” at Sun City for his mates the SAPS, the Johannesburg Metro Police, the Department of Correctional Service — and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, thrown in for good measure. He was apparently “on a mission to spread the message of a crime-free country and a successful World Cup. Kunene says one way to ensure this is for security personnel to be fit and healthy for the event.”
  • October 21 2010
    THAT party, where Kunene spends R700 000 on turning 40, at his exclusive ZAR Lounge nightclub. His ode to decadence included models painted grey, and the sushi-draped underwear clad model that started it all. On the guest list were presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, Malema’s spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, and socialite Khanyi Mbau.
  • October 27 2010
    Saviour of the worker and all-round zealot, Zwelinzima Vavi weighs in on the display of excess, calling Kunene’s and friends members of the “predatory elite” who were “spitting in the faces of the poor”. Said Vavi: “We are rewarding laziness, greed and corruption and discouraging hard work, honesty and integrity.”
  • October 29 2010
    Malema’s response? “We have no reason to apologise. We are young. We will never apologise for partying. It is our responsibility.” He said at a fundraiser in Franschhoek.
  • October 28 2010
    Kunene responded even faster, in a scathing open letter to Vavi. He attacked Vavi’s lifestyle and said: “You are opposed to successful young people — whether the success is political or financial success. You make me sick.”
  • December 13 2010
    A Star exposé reveals how Kunene’s mining company, Central Rand Gold, failed to share the wealth with impoverished communities in the area, as had been promised.
  • 29 January 2011
    Kunene repeats his sushi stunt at the launch party of his ZAR Lounge in Cape Town. This time he incurs further outrage by pouring champagne into the mouth of the sushi-clad model. In a quote that defined the moment, Malema heralded the beginning of the end of flamboyant Kunene: “Helen Zille will not close ZAR at 2am, like she does to other clubs in Cape Town. The ANC owns ZAR and we will party until the morning.”
  • 31 January 2011
    The sushi hits the fan on Monday morning and the ANC distances themselves from Malema’s moronic conflation of the ANC with the exploitation of women, in a statement marked “urgent”.

    “The ANC is not into nightclubs or partying, but is a revolutionary movement,” said secretary general Gwede Mantashe. “We furthermore reiterate our condemnation to the act of serving sushi on a woman’s body, as this act is anti-ANC and anti-revolutionary.

    “The act is defamatory, insensitive and undermining of a woman’s integrity. We therefore appeal to all those involved in this act to immediately disengage from it.”

  • February 2 2010
    There were no open letters this time. Faster than you could say “A luta vagina” Kunene issued an apology, while the ANCYL fell over themselves trying to clarify Malema’s statement. Said Kunene: “I will not be throwing or attending any further such sushi parties as I have nothing but respect for the leadership of the ANC and the guiding principles of the movement,” the Star newspaper reported. He also stated that if it were not for the work and struggle of ANC leaders, “my leaders, the money that black businesspeople have made since 1994 would not have been possible, and that also applies to me”.

Clearly the ANC holds more power over our favourite ex-convict-turned-businessman than Cosatu. Or more to offer, perhaps.

Chris Roper
Chris Roper

Chris Roper was editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian from July 2013 - July 2015.


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