The Jewish Report Editorial

Paying tribute to South African heroes

  • Vanessa
During the July school holidays, I visited Ibiza for the first time - the exotic Spanish island where the rich and beautiful flock to enjoy its beaches and famous nightlife.
by VANESSA VALKIN | Jul 20, 2016

For Sol Kerzner, it has become an annual August holiday destination.

Over the past few summers he has rented as many as three villas at one time for his children and grandchildren there. But then Kerzner always had an eye for location and being in the right place at the right time.

He had the vision to transform an unattractive tract of land near Rustenburg but in the former Bophuthatswana into Sun City, the most astounding gambling and hotel resort South Africa has ever seen.

I met with him in London this month at another chic location, the elegant Mayfair office building on Conduit Street that he uses for meetings. It is a conveniently short distance from his Holland Park home where his neighbours are other business titans, film stars, Arab oil sheiks and the like.

But these days, occasional meetings are all Sol Kerzner, 80, is busy with professionally. After the 2014 sale of Kerzner International Holdings, the company he began after moving to London in 1987, to Dubai’s Investment Corporation, he was rumoured to have looked at some new opportunities, including the failed Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas.

But, he says, that was mere speculation.

Kerzner is a man who changed the face of the hotel industry globally. A more in-depth profile will appear alongside those of other glittering South African Jewish personalities in our upcoming 2016 Achiever Awards Magazine in honour of the Achiever Awards gala dinner on August 28. The dinner helps fund our publication, so please buy your tickets and help support us!

An even more famous and global South African we honoured in South Africa this week is former President Nelson Mandela. Remembering him on what would have been his 98th birthday on July 18, members of the South African Jewish community participated through volunteer organisations, their schools and individually, in numerous acts of goodness and kindness to pay tribute to an individual who altered the course of South African history and provided a blueprint for reconciliation and transformation globally.

Interestingly, Mandela asked to meet with Kerzner upon his release from Robben Island and picking up on Kerzner’s unrivalled ability to organise a bash of epic proportions (from his legendary New Year’s Eve parties at his Hout Bay home, to the highly successful concerts of the first international stars like Frank Sinatra to break the apartheid embargo and play at Sun City), Mandela asked him to help organise his inauguration.

The theme of this year’s Jewish Achiever Awards is “Igniting the Soul of Africa” which celebrates how South African Jewry have contributed to that mission. Whether it’s as a community on Mandela Day distributing toothbrushes to disadvantaged children, or through remarkable individuals like Kerzner, we have indeed done much to ignite our beloved continent’s soul.

Part of the goal of the Awards is to seek out the South Africans who will be our future global heroes and change makers.

Despite the Jewish community’s brain drain and losses to emigration, we happily continue to produce heroes - both the everyday ones as well as the iconic, history-transforming ones.

In a world of economic gloom, security threats and perceived lack of leadership in many quarters, that is indeed something to celebrate.







1 Comment

  1. 1 ASHER 19 Sep
    Vanessa - are you aware that Ibiza resort of the rich and beautiful is steadfast in its support of BDS?


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