By BO Staff Writer
“Land is the most important ingredient in economically uplifting a people,” wrote businessman, author, politician, motivational speaker and ex-inmate, Gayton McKenzie, on Twitter a few days ago. The author of best-selling Hustler’s Bible will be sharing his expertise on the challenges black entrepreneurs face in a highly white monopolised business arena, at the BLF Black Business Seminar this coming weekend.
Born in Bloemfontein, McKenzie grew up in a neighborhood ridden with drugs and gangsterism – a pathology present in most, if not all, Black townships around the country. True to this colonially set-up phenomenon (of imprisoning Black men disproportionately), McKenzie landed up in Grootvlei Prison in the Free State, where he met long time friend and business partner, Kenny Kunene.
In 2003, McKenzie was one of three inmates who exposed the atrocious conditions Black men and women were living under in the prison. According to a news report at the time, “the expose led to a nationwide probe by the Jali Commission and the rolling of several heads.”
After McKenzie was released from prison he decided to turn his life around and start building his own businesses.
McKenzie has done everything in the business fraternity, from selling fish to owning a publishing house (Hustlers Empire publishing which published his four books, The Choice: The Gayton McKenzie story, A Hustler’s Bible, Trapped and The Uncomfortable Truth), co-owning restaurants and nightclub chains with Kunene, Rivonia on Deck and ZAR, respectively. He has dabbled in mining and now has a firm foot in politics, with the Patriotic Alliance (a political party he started in 2013 securing 5 seats in different municipalities after the August local government elections.
The Patriotic Alliance was launched in Paarl in 2013 where McKenzie was elected as the first President of the party.