“I watched Genius grow from nothing”

Zodwa Mkandla and the late Genious "Ginimbi" Kadungure

Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure’s death in a horrific accident on November 8 pierced a veil that shrouded his personal life, business empire, estate and fabulous wealth.

Always the one to capture his life in digital frames which he shared with his adorable fans, through pictures and short video clips on social media sites, the finer details of his personal life and businesses, however, remained largely inscrutable or opaque.

Eulogies and testimonies from his close friends, associates and relatives have helped to put together pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that were his life.

But no one could possibly claim to have known him better other than his wife of six years, Zodwa Mkandla, who is nicknamed “Zozo”.

“I met him when he was 23 and it was in 2006. We were just friends then but he later on asked me out and we started dating in 2009; this was after three years of friendship,” she opened up to The Sunday Mail last week.

The couple’s relationship blossomed into marriage and they lived together at the plushy and palatial 10-bedroomed mansion in Domboshava.

However, their marriage hit the rocks in 2018.

They duly shared assets and parted ways.

It became a closed chapter.

Despite the break-up, the power couple remained in good books as the two were often spotted together at various parties in and outside the country.

An equally accomplished businesswoman, Mkandla reminisced about the hitherto unknown habits of the late socialite, whom many believe had a taste for the finer things in life.

She said: “He was a very traditional man who didn’t enjoy things like pizza; he was a sadza man served with mabhonzo and matumbu (beef bones and offals). During weekends, he would enjoy hosting his friends at our home in Domboshava.”

‘Snakes’

But how the 36-year-old businessman, with only one Ordinary Level subject (Agriculture) to his name, successfully transformed his life from the seeming backwater of Nyamande Village, to a cash-flush entrepreneur who flaunted his wealth through high-end sports cars such as his recently acquired Ferrari and Lamborghini has been the subject of inquiry over the past two weeks.

Some speculated, as they often do, that the meteoric rise of Ginimbi was driven by black magic.

Ms Mkandla claims the only “black magic” she knew the youthful businessman practiced was burning the candle from both ends.

“When we first met, Genius had nothing to his name — anga asina chinhu — but the man was such a hard worker. He would wake up at 5 am to do his gas business. He continued to work hard throughout his life until he made it to the top,” she said.

“I was the first in business, hence I was wiser. Genius had bigger business ideas but I always helped him with the wisdom. Likewise, I would go to him for business advice.

“What I can say without any shadow of doubt is that Ginimbi was a go-getter and never used juju.

“If there are snakes which vomit money, why can’t people get them and be rich? I watched Genius grow from nothing to a millionaire through sheer hard work.”

Kadungure started off in the gas business, where he established Pioneer Gas before spreading his tentacles to neighbouring Botswana through Quick Gases, which he acquired when it was about to go under.

Although it made him rich, he hit the mother lode when he ventured into the fuel business through multimillion-rand tenders to supply diesel to mining conglomerates in Botswana and South Africa.

His lifestyle and tastes ultimately changed.

He began investing in properties such as the ostentatious Domboshava home and high-end vehicles.

But he partied as hard as he worked.

It was his penchant for all-white parties that put him in the limelight.

However, they set Harare’s rumour mill on overdrive as some speculated that they were rituals associated with his ventures.

“We all have our colours and his theme was white; what has that to do with mushonga (rituals)? I lived with Genius and I never saw any juju or rituals. The parties were just him having fun. Anga arimunhu aida zvekunakirwa hake,” said Ms Mkandla.

Recently, Ginimbi’s friends spoke of how the man would binge on bottles of Lion Lager and danced the night away at sungura maestro Alick Macheso’s shows.

It is believed that his favourite music was rhumba and was biased towards international stars like Fally Ipupa and Koffi “Mopao Mokonzi” Olomide.

Estate

Ms Mkandla, said she has nothing to do with Genius’ estate as that will be handled by his lawyers and family.

She, however, hinted that the Domboshava mansion would likely be turned into a hotel, while some of the luxury vehicles will be used as shuttle cars for clients.

“Genius was a very organised man; he obviously left a will. I will only work with the family to help them run the hotel and the transport business since I am already in the hospitality industry through Traverse Travel Agent. I have the clientele which can occupy the hotel and generate money for the business.”

Ginimbi, who seems to have had a huge following both in real life and on social media, brought Harare and Domboshava to a standstill during his burial a week ago, as multitudes graced his send-off.

His transformation from an ambitious pauper to a poster boy endeared him to many.

Few, however, knew that he was once a family man.

Even as his lifeless body lay along Legacy Way (former Borrowdale Road) on that ill-fated Sunday morning, Zozo, his former life partner, closely stood by calling for help.

The young socialite might be dead, but his story remains very much alive.