Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

The Great Ginimbi and the pursuit of the Zimbabwean dream

By Bruce Ndlovu

Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure was buried in a Versace coffin, in the dust of Domboshava, Mashonaland East yesterday.

In life, some mocked him. He did not look “clean”, he did not have the well-scrubbed skin of one that had grown up in privilege and money.
In life, some mocked him. He did not look “clean”, he did not have the well-scrubbed skin of one that had grown up in privilege and money.

His departure and the events that followed it, was so spectacular it was as if he had planned it himself. After all, this was man who filled nightspots despite never having held a note. His fingers were not familiar with any instrument.

This is the same man who had people breaking down pub doors just to be within smelling distance of his undoubtedly expensive perfume.

Last Sunday, he died the way he had lived: on the fast lane with fast people, driving a very fast car. But Ginimbi was more than just a socialite and a businessman.

For the Instagram generation, for whom life is best captured in a picture, he defined a lifestyle, a way of living that, whether wrong or right, many identified with.

Americans speak of the American Dream. This is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone.

The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.

Is there a Zimbabwean dream? If there is, one could argue that Ginimbi, if he did not attain it, was one who pursued with sometimes reckless intensity. Ambitious village boys do not become kings of Harare and Johannesburg. The cards were too stacked against him.

In life, some mocked him. He did not look “clean”, he did not have the well-scrubbed skin of one that had grown up in privilege and money.

Perhaps, some would say, all that extravagance, all that pomp, all that roar, all that noise came from a desire to not only confound his present-day critics but also a desire to take a swipe at his own early years, a childhood that does not seem to come with a silver spoon.

There are many Ginimbis. Young men who seemed to have chanced upon great wealth in the later days of their youth. They do not carry great names from illustrious forebears so not much is known about how they achieved all that wealth and success.

No one knows where they went to school. For example, despite possessing an impressive set of toys in his garage, few knew what make Ginimbi’s first car.

Perhaps some time in the past, in the dust and rust of Domboshava, he wished to own a humble Honda Fit. Perhaps he did not dream of champagne showers, but of a cold beer at home after a long day at home.

After all, for many who were born with little to their name, such a humble life is also the Zimbabwean dream.

The source of Ginimbi’s wealth, as it is for other young Zimbabweans who do not come from historically great families and lofty names, was the subject of much great speculation.

We all know of a great local businessman whose riches are credited, or rather blamed, on some kind of dark magic or ritual sacrifice.

So, and so’s businesses took off after his son or brother died, the rumour mongers will speculate. If he moves between South Africa and Zimbabwe frequently, it is always said that he moonlights as an armed robber.

In this world black men, especially young black men, cannot become kings without the authenticity of their crowns being questioned.

It was the same for Ginimbi. Before the smoke from his smouldering Rolls Royce had settled, already naysayers were already conducting a thorough audit of his finances. According to social media auditors, Ginimbi’s ledger showed that he owed his wealth to a great snake that vomited greenbacks by the hundreds, something dismissed as rubbish by family and friends.

Ginimbi, perhaps in selfishness, had not bothered to show the country’s monetary authorities his source of forex when the country could have done with an injection of crisp dollar notes. When he slept with a woman, so goes the rumour mill, he never did so on a bed, but instead on a grass mat.

There were rituals at his club, some whispered, and as champagne flowed down Ginimbi’s throat, a coffin would be there right next to him. So many myths were told about the man, yet very few knew the truth.

After the dramatic week following his death, a week in which snakes became a part of Zimbabweans’ vocabulary, a mixture of suspicion and wonder will accompany him to the grave. But where did Ginimbi come from?

Perhaps the answer to that question cannot be found in Domboshava, perhaps it can be found in other Zimbabweans that came before him, other young people who walked the same path in pursuit of the Zimbabwean dream.

The answer to that question can be traced back to the late Peter Pamire, who in the end suffered the same fate as Ginimbi, or Philip Chiyangwa, who was one of the first to captivate and intoxicate with his cocktail of extravagance and eccentricity.

His DNA could be traced back to Lawrence “Warlord” Fambainesu Chakaredza, who, according to urban lore, would make it a point to be seen around town in the company of an energetic young white man who was always burdened with carrying the businessman’s heavy briefcases.

To Chakaredza, barely over a decade after his country had attained independence, making an agile white boy sweat and toil under the African sun was the essence of the Zimbabwean dream.

While those names passed into urban lore, Ginimbi became the face of his generation. He lived for those young men and women, osiphatheleni, who line the streets during the week, a handful of a different currencies in one hand and a phone in another, playing hide and seek with law enforcement officers as the country’s monetary authorities try to get a grip on their lucrative but economically costly game.

On weekends, these young men can be found in bars and pubs, living it up in the finest establishments as volumes of expensive champagne flow down their throats. Just like their role model Ginimbi, for them that was the Zimbabwean dream: a carefree lifestyle in which cash came quickly and departed even faster.

For a few that have ever been in his presence, it was rather ironic that Genius met his end after a collision with a Honda Fit.

“Nhasi totangira paHonda Fit,” a colleague once told me the charismatic businessman said to him during a visit to his infamous nightclub in the capital. On that day, Ginimbi was looking down on a few “peasants” that he had found drinking “cheap” whiskey. Never mind the fact that his idea of cheap was other people’s very expensive. The cheapest alcohol he would buy on that day, he was saying, was equivalent to the price of a brand spanking new Honda Fit.

Of course, this pursuit of a very extravagant Zimbabwean dream had a price. When Ginimbi’s father got on the front seat of a Lamborghini during his funeral procession on Friday, he remarked that it was the first time he had been inside the sports car.

Despite the fact that his life, and even his death, played out on social media, no one except those close to him can claim that they truly knew Ginimbi. Therefore, like everybody, we are in the dark about the Kadungure family’s internal politics.

However, comments from his father leave a bitter aftertaste, they give the impression that everyone but his father enjoyed his success, they leave one feeling like he gained the world but lost his family. The Zimbabwean dream cannot come at the expense of our loved ones. However, Ginimbi’s sister told mourners yesterday that he indeed took care of his family and friends financially and otherwise.

In the end, they lined the streets of Harare to bid him a big farewell. Some laughed, some cheered and some cried. A Ferrari took a breather in the streets of Harare and as it rested, clouds of smoke announced to an excitable crowd that another spectacle related to Ginimbi was unfolding.

Cameras flashed, videos were recorded and uploaded, unsolicited commentary and analysis was offered right there on the spot. This too is the new Zimbabwean dream – chaotic, impressionable and spectacular.

It was all very surreal and dramatic, just as Ginimbi would have wanted it to be. Yesterday, he returned to the dust of Domboshava. For 36 years he lived his Zimbabwean dream. There will not be another like him. He was killed in a car accident last Sunday. The Sunday News