Melissa Mpofu, Showbiz Editor
JUST like most Zimbabweans, I am also convinced that the late businessman, socialite Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure had a “snake”. And this “snake” was not for the fainthearted because it was always hungry, making it difficult to keep.
But just like his name suggests, Genius was an exceptional intellectual, one of a kind so he braved it all and took great care of this “snake” which also returned the favour. This explains his riches which he enjoyed in Zimbabwe, making some hate him.
This snake was not your conventional reptile, neither was it the one used for rituals, but it was in the form of hunger for success and a constant urge to put in the work in order to have a good life.
Those who were close to the late as well as those who followed him on social media knew very well how he loved the finer things in life (champagne lifestyle) and the feeling of happiness. But in order to have these things and create his own happy world, which he successfully did, 36-year-old Genius who was born in Domboshava in a family of four, likely figured out that money was the main requirement.
How to make this money? Genius who always had a hustling spirit, apparently setup businesses, mainly focusing on energy (gas) in search for the green paper.
According to various reports online which were confirmed by his media and business manager Shaleen Manhire-Nullens this week, Genius started his business career by hustling in search of a decent livelihood at the age of 17. He then became a middleman securing gas for domestic users and through his friend, secured his first ever contract.
After signing the contract, Kadungure followed up on many gas users and that is when his fortunes turned.
According to iHarare, within a year in business, he was already driving and two years later, he had a Mercedes-Benz S Class. He went on to form Pioneer Gases, a company which supplied gas to commercial, industrial, public and retail sectors. Pioneer Gases had interests in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“He went on to buy Quick Gases in Botswana. With the success of his companies, he decided to add Rivonia Gases to his portfolio followed by another business initiative called City Centre Freight. All these companies fall under Piko Trading Group which he is a majority shareholder.
“Due to the increased growth and success of his businesses, he became one of the richest young entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe,” read part of the report.
From there, his empire kept growing till his demise last Sunday.
But, that’s not where it ends. Ginimbi wanted an extravagant life, something that saw him build a mansion in Domboshava and setup his own nightclub – Sankayi. The club, according to him, was not a business venture as this was not his line of business, but a project that was meant to satisfy his pleasure needs.
Looking at the way he led his life (champagne lifestyle, penchant for shopping and love for expensive cars), it is clear why he never tired when it came to chasing money as he was always hungry for more. Even though he already had loads of money, cars and mansion with girls throwing themselves at him, his brains, according to his housekeeper of 15 years, were always at work.
This was him, he always had his ears and eyes open for opportunities. “To tell the world the truth, Genius was a hard worker, but people never knew that. He was the kind who would rush for opportunities and grab them without hesitation. He never used juju, but his wealth was a result of his hard work,” the housekeeper said.
He was always open to new deals and no amount was too small. For example, in Victoria Falls when he attended the carnival two years ago, he realised there was no nightclub catering for a clientele like him which had a fine taste. So he came up with a makeshift event where he charged people to enter and sold expensive whiskeys and champagnes using himself as the main attraction. All I can say is the event sold out with the alcohol flying off the shelves.
Nullens, in an interview earlier in the week also described Genius as a hard-working person who was a big player in the gas business.
“I’ve worked for Genius for seven years. I worked with him a lot in the trucking business where he was big in gas and energy (diesel). He was actually in the top three in the gas business in Botswana which a lot of people weren’t aware of.
“He had about 26 trucks and was in the process of upgrading them,” Nullens said.
She said a lot of people were coming up with conspiracy theories about Genius’ wealth because they did not see him working. They did not have to physically see him working because he set up good structures for his more than seven companies which made life very simple as all he had to do was delegate people.
“The thing that made a lot of people think Genius wasn’t working was that he was excellent when it came to creating structures. His delegation was amazing as he knew how to delegate work and duties. So you’ll find out that all his companies had strong structures. It’s just unfortunate because he was the brains behind the structure,” Nullens said in an interview.
Due to these solid structures, Nullens said his businesses must be able to continue running even in Genius’ absence.
This issue of Genius being said to use snakes (rituals) to make money did not emerge after his death. It was always there and just escalated as people started saying his fatal accident last Sunday in which three more passengers burnt to death, was caused by a ritual gone wrong.
Interestingly, he was well aware of everything people said about him and he simply did not care.
“People don’t have to understand me. As long as business is doing well, I don’t owe anyone any explanation,” Genius told personality Acie Lumumba in an interview two years ago.
He went on to say: “People that attack Genius are the people that have no knowledge about how I accumulated my wealth. They just assume things, they don’t talk to me. If they talk to me, I should be able to give them tips even of how to make money. What pains me is I’m a citizen of Zimbabwe but I get attacked in my own country. I don’t have peace in my own country.
“You get attacked by your fellow brother because he feels I owe him an explanation. They’re not happy. They didn’t ask when I was living in the village struggling to wear shoes. It’s only now that they want to know the source of wealth, but when poverty was hitting me, nobody was there.”
The businessman said it was sickening how locals seem to endorse poverty by attacking those making it in different fields.
“So are we happy for poverty. If that’s so, it must be clear that we’re not happy for Zimbabweans that are doing well.
Many have left the country because of this hate. I’m happy and that’s why I’m not leaving Zimbabwe. This pains me.
“At the end of the day, I’m just a nobody. Those that love me love me.”
He went on to say there was nothing wrong with being rich and enjoying one’s money.
“To me, there’s nothing wrong with buying nice cars every year, that’s what excites me.”
Explaining how he made his money, Genius said he followed his passion and ventured into the energy business.
“I’m into energy which includes diesel and gas. Right now, we have a solution to electricity and trust me, if that works out, I’ll be one of the youngest billionaires in the world,” Genius said.
He also attributed his success to hard work.
“I don’t sleep. The moment I believe in the next person, they mess things up. They sleep on the job and don’t treat the business the same way I do. So it’s very simple, the more you commit yourself to your business, trust me, you’ll get there.”