Time Magazine called the 86 year old in their 2007 feature, Retail Renegade…as someone who defied all odds stacked against him by the apartheid regime; to virtually make it impossible for him to conduct business in the country of his birth. The government of the day refused this Soweto giant, a license to open his first shop, even after Tambo and Mandela Law Firm tried their best to get him licensed….the apartheid agents were bent on proving their racist myth that a black man is not capable of running a successful business. Despite all the evil efforts and racial draconian laws couldn’t keep the good man down! This Giant kept on keeping on, and went on conquering to conquer…
To me, this giant, is not just an ordinary South African…here is a man who fought apartheid from a different front; he didn’t pick up conventional struggle arms, didn’t opt to go into exile. He stayed put and kept his feet on the ground, he believed in the Soweto Dream for which he fought so bravely. South Africa, here’s the man, a visionary and Soweto’s most humble business Guru….a man after the order and stature of Biko, Sobukwe, Mandela, Tutu, Motlana, Plaatjie: a man after the order of the founding fathers of Soweto! That man, this Giant is Richard Maponya….Soweto’s most humble Giant and the most successful business mogul; not only in Soweto but in the rest of the Republic and throughout Africa!
Now, I am not the one given to following populist leaders nor dare wear any t-shirts bearing faces of uncanny politicians, claiming all sorts of affection for me in order to seduce my vote. No, I am not so gullible; and certainly not a praise singer for some cynical political honchos, a very tough customer! Richard Maponya’s face is one of the few t-shirts I am prepared to wear and display with pride; for the world to see. Here is the man, who’s done so much for Soweto people, a man who deserves the status of the gods; a true entrepreneur and a self-made, hard-working millionaire…if there was a song that went: “I will kill for Maponya!” Most definitely, I’d take part and sing it with all my heart!
Richard Maponya supported by his equally hard-working and dedicated late wife, Marina…single-handedly transformed Soweto into one of the fastest growing metropolis in South Africa. Celebrate the man for what he’s done for the people of Soweto; thousands have permanent jobs in and around Soweto because of Richard Maponya’s Dream for Soweto…Against all odds and without BEE enablement, Richard Maponya has made it to the top and took the rest of Soweto suburb with him. To all the enlightened Sowetans like me, Soweto is synonymous and rhymes with the name: Richard Maponya…I salute the Humble Giant of Soweto; every household in Soweto should hang a portrait bearing the face of Richard Maponya cause he deserves that respect!
By powers vested on the Queen of England, and on behalf of the Royal House of England after the order of the Queen, Her Royal Highness: after the order of Biko, Sobukwe, Mandela, Tutu, Motlana and Plaatjie; hereby anoint you, Richard Maponya on behalf of the Knighthood powers vested on the Queen, Her Royal Highness…I knight you, Sir Richard Maponya! Sir Richard Maponya, I celebrate and salute you…thank you for being the inspiration that you are, like no other; I worship the ground you walk on! God shine his light, make his face shine on you and bless you with long life…may you live to over 100 years younger! Celebrate the man Soweto; celebrate one of the greatest sons of the soil.