Africans who have publicly displayed riches


Modesty and the young, sharp-tongued South Sudanese will hardly fit in the same sentence, given the way the 30-year-old has been parading his riches to the world.

He recently posted a video online in which he wanted it to be absolutely clear that he is a moneyed man.

He readily accepted that it was him in the video at aCitizen TVinterview last Sunday where his description of himself was everything but humble.

“I’m a very rich man. As you see, I’m wearing Jimmy Choo [shoes]. How much does it cost? You know it yourself. This costs $10,000,” he told host Jeff Koinange. “And the Rolex you are wearing is the one I have, with a diamond, which is $100,000 (Sh10 million).”

Lawrence Lual Malong Yor Jr.

South Sudanese Lawrence Lual Malong Yor Jr. PHOTO | COURTESY

He went ahead to narrate how he flies on private jets and lives on presidential suites.

“I got my wealth from my Lord Jesus Christ,” he explained. “My Lord Jesus Christ blesses me.”

In one of the photos doing the rounds online, Mr Yor’s head rests in new $100 notes. The juxtaposition between Mr Yor’s half-smiling face and the indifferent visage of America’s first president George Washington on the notes, makes one think the dollars were frowning as the cameras rolled.

Kenny Kunene.

South African Kenny Kunene. PHOTO | FILE | AFP


The class of the most notorious rich South Africans is occupied by people who benefited from the failures of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), a programme that was instituted by the ruling party in 1994 to address economic injustices stemming from British rule.

Kenny “Sushi King” Kunene is one of South Africa’s “BEE men”, and his lavish lifestyle offers ready material for gossip-hungry blogs.

For instance, in May, he was the talk of town when he spent more than 23,000 Rands (Sh1.6 million) to buy gifts for his son who was turning one.

In an event whose photos and videos were shared on social media, Mr Kunene bought a mini-car collection of a Lamborghini, a classic Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, Ferrari and Bentley, according to South Africa’sDaily Times.

That’s not all. In February 2017, Mr Kunene took to Twitter to announce that he had just made R190 million (Sh1.3 billion) from his business, as he exchanged with a South African poet on who has achieved more.

About seven years ago, Mr Kunene’s extravagance was criticised by trade unionist Zwelinzima Vavi, who described his acts as “spitting on the face of the poor”.

In his response, Mr Kunene “corrected” a remark by his critic that he had spent R700,000 (Sh4.9 million) on a party.

“I want to correct your misapprehension that my party cost R700,000. It cost more,” he said in a statement.

Francis Atwoli.

Cotu Secretary General Francis Atwoli. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


In a live television interview two months ago, Mr Francis Atwoli who is the secretary-general of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu), was asked to respond to people who claim he is wealthy. His reaction was markedly low on modesty.


“They don’t know about me. And sometimes they also undervalue me,” he replied.

“Somebody was saying, ‘Atwoli has a watch worth $20,000.’ That’s about Sh2 million. My watch is not worth that. This is Franck Muller. This cannot be a Sh2 million watch. And it’s full gold. So, sometimes also they undervalue me,” added the trade unionist.

Mr Atwoli’s flashy mode of dressing, with flashy rings and snazzy chains, all make a statement about his riches.

A case he filed early last year also provided a window into his riches, where he told the court that he offered Sh100 million as a friendly loan to former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo that was to be returned in 50 days.

The sum, Sh100 million, equals the one Kenya spent in constructing its first ever satellite that was launched into space in May.

Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga.

Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


As last year’s election fever accelerated towards the crescendo, photos of nominated senator Millicent Omanga with a huge stash of notes did the rounds on the internet.

They were clearly in millions; given that most were tucked in polythene bags. Her face wore a wry smile as she handled one of the polythene packs.

The Jubilee politician was later asked to explain about it, and she admitted it was her in photo, only that she was not sure who took it.

Furniture deals

“Those are sales [proceeds],” she toldNTV. “I deal in furniture. Today, you come (to us) after buying a house. You want curtains, seats, kitchenware and all that. How much would you spend?”

She added: “At first I thought it was Photoshop and then I realised that’s my house. I think it’s either one of my staff [who took the photo] or something.”

But given the timing of the release, which was when Jubilee was to conduct party nominations, many observers thought it was a publicity stunt.

Ivan Ssemwanga.

Ivan Ssemwanga. PHOTO | COURTESY


Socialites are all about glitz and glamour and the late Ivan Ssemwanga, the ex-husband of famous socialite Zari Hassan, understood his trade.

On the internet, there are several photos where the Ugandan is posing with wads of cash, mostly US dollars.

He belonged to the Rich Gang Group, a known entity in Uganda and South Africa.

Members of the group made Mr Ssemwanga’s obsession with cash to literally follow him to his grave when they splashed notes in his grave, besides pouring expensive champagne into it, before he was buried.

Two citizens later sued a bank for allowing the socialite to be buried with legal tender, but a court dismissed the case.

The money is believed to have been the reason why unknown thugs vandalised Mr Ssemwanga’s grave in Kayunga, Uganda, a few days after his burial. They, however, failed to break through the concrete walls of the grave to access the body.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


The very fact that he changed his name in 2012 from “Gidion Kioko” to “Mbuvi Gidion Kioko Mike Sonko” showed that the politician hardly wants his name to be among the hoi polloi.

“Sonko” has been accepted in everyday lingo as a reference to a rich person and that is a title the Nairobi Governor appears to crave.

Online, you cannot miss at least two photos where he posed with numerous Sh1,000 notes.

“Flashy” has always been his byword since he came to the limelight, and that is reflected in the clothes he wears or the chains he throws over them. Sometimes it is the rings on his fingers or his big talk.

In a June 2015 interview withNTV, he was asked about the source of his money.

“My wealth comes from God. I have brains, I have hands, and I used to deal in land deals since I was in school,” he said.

The anchor then asked: “This money that comes from God, how much is it? What is your worth?”

To which Mr Sonko responded: “You can ask God that question.”

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