Page 28. Raising the money for FIFA (Part 1)

After my uncle said no to helping me with the capital needed for the FIFA World Cup some of my mothers friends got together in trying to help me raise the money needed. The thing about South Africa which I found different from the USA is that most people knew each other. If they didn’t know each other directly, they would know of each other based on the family name. Meetings were set up for me to meet with possible investors and organizations that provided funding for businesses.

I remember driving to several provinces trying to raise money for the FIFA World Cup. While trying to raise the money for the World Cup I also wanted to show my family that I was not upset they were not helping and that I could do it on my own. By being so determined to show that I was not upset or hurt things became very cloudy for me. My uncle would invite me to come by his office at least once a week to have such at a near by restaurant and I would go. It was tough because deep down I was hurting and all he would talk about were is successes and things he owned. I couldn‘t understand why at the very least he could not even offer me business advise or advise on how to empower myself in this foreign territory, especially because I proved that I had the potential. The other dynamic was I really liked him, at the time I though the had a great personality.

The relationship with my family was really about them. I was slowly becoming invisible in order to become a part of their world. I also could feel and hear little by little that people in the family were gossiping about be looking for money. I wasn’t sure if it was my uncle who said anything because my father also knew that I was sourcing funding. The only way that my father would fund my project was if he had full control of me and he wasn’t getting that.

Months would pass with me trying to raise the funding for the World Cup. I was always around my family attending events and dinners just to prove I was doing ok but it was hard. Fortunately, the FIFA officials were very patient with me, but I was still very stressed out. They could take the agreement from me at any minute because I hadn’t paid the required capital yet. They would include me in licensee events and treated me just like all the other licensees and I became part of the FIFA family.

The South African government put aside finding for the World Cup and I applied for assistance with the different organizations. I still had my South African passport and qualified for all the opportunities South African citizens were offered. That’s when I was introduced to the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). This was part of a law Nelson Mandela passed which is based on a point system. If companies want to get business opportunities from the government (contracts/tenders) they need to be 51% black owned. The points get higher if you are a woman and youth. What happened in most cases white owned companies would get, let’s say their driver who is black to own 51% of their company on paper. Sometimes it was just someone who is politically connected through a relative or friend. That’s how they are able to get some of the big tenders. A lot of these companies would give the black partner a nice car, house and other perks while they still controlled the companies. Not all companies with black owners are operated like this but a lot are. This is one of the reasons a lot of black CEO, Executives and Owners don’t know a lot about their companies because they are not in control. It just looks that way on paper, something I would learn more about with time.

In most cases it didn’t matter if the company had the skills needed for the tender as long as they met the BEE requirements as far as black owned and also their relationship with the political community. This made it difficult for companies that had the skills but not the political relationships. In most cases having the political relationships meant someone is getting a cut for approving the tender. These were areas I was very naive about, I accomplished what I had up to that point because of my talent and determination. That’s what I knew, and paying someone to get a project in my eyes is wrong.

I never got the funding from the government funds for the following reasons;
I was not willing to give a cut for my project being approved. Most cases I was asked how much out of the funding they would receive? I would just end up walking out of the meeting.
South Africa required me to manufacture my bags in South Africa. I spent months looking for manufacturers to make my bags in South Africa and honestly I would have loved for my bags to have been manufactured in South Africa. This was an event where there wasn’t much time to get a new manufacturer if there was one and the skills for what I needed just weren’t there at the time. Anyway, FIFA only approved the factories that were manufacturing my NBA bags.
Even though I was South African, to most I was not African enough. I didn’t represent the African image.

Things became cloudier for me because not only did I want to prove to my family that I could do this, I needed to prove to South Africa that I belonged there too. I couldn’t understand, the things that were required from me I didn’t find important. I guess this where ignorance came in, I was in a different territory from what I was used to. Things were done differently and people thought differently. I was thinking like an American.

My mom’s friends called friends who were in prominent positions and asked them to meet with me and discuss funding possibilities. Every meeting I went into I was always asked who my family was. I was starting to learn just how small South Africa really is and I thought if I gave people my fathers last name it would work to my advantage because of who they are. In the end it worked against me. To a lot of people when I would tell them my fathers last name they became confused on why I was sourcing money when I have such a wealthy family. It was a question that everyone asked. The other question wasare you sure you asked your family?” When I would say yes, they didn’t believe me and some would offer to go to my family with me. I always declined on the offer. I then tried to only tell them my mothers last name but they were still able to figure out that I was related to my other side of the family.

I remember once my mom’s friend called another friend to meet with me. The friend asked my mom’s friend to tell him more about who I was, and when he was given more information he shouted the words “ The stolen children?!” 

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Page 27. Underestimating my Own Worth

While I was still not aware of my aunt Linda’s intentions on the jewelry she bought me, I was beaming about my extravagant gift. I would tell my friends back in New York about the time spent with her and the gifts she bought me. I was in such a weird place at that time. I think it was that need for acceptance. For me it was more than the diamonds, I made it personal.

As I mentioned before, I was happy to be with my family and at the same time very angry. Today I can make sense of what I was going through but at the time I was all over the place. I also felt ashamed for wanting to have a relationship with my family because too much had happened. I went from being this focused person to now having to prove something to people who I didn’t really matter to. For whatever reason I needed to prove that I was worthy of their love and respect. I know this made a lot of people who have been constant in my life angry. They couldn’t understand why I would reduce myself to such a level for people who for years showed they did not care for me at all.

I can also understand why the people who have been constant in my life had these feelings. It almost was as if I didn’t think their love and support was good enough. I didn’t choose my family and the baggage that came with being part of that family. These were feelings I never experienced before and I always told myself that I would never go back to them. Once I stepped into their territory I was hooked. I never knew myself to be the type of person that needed acceptance from people who didn’t really care about me. I was wrong, at the time I needed them to care. Why, I don’t know.

To be honest I think when I initially went back to South Africa the first time it was to prove something just as much as it was to become a FIFA licensee. With time, I think my need to prove my worth to the family out weighed my need to follow my dreams. It actually at a point became an obsession. I couldn’t admit to myself that I needed their acknowledgment and love, which in return created a lot of grey areas from me.

While I was back in NY I worked on my business plan. The plan that I worked on required me to raise about $200,000. I didn’t have that kind of money and fortunately some of my investors who invested in my NBA business invested more money for the FIFA project. It wasn’t all the money I needed but it was a start. I occasionally thought about asking my uncle since I felt more comfortable around him than I did my other relatives. He was the fun uncle and easy to be around. At the same time I also doubted that he would help even a little, but I thought about it.

My mother, Kim and some friends pushed for me to ask my uncle. I think we all knew he probably wouldn’t but hoped we were wrong. To be honest I wanted to do this without them. I didn’t want them to get the credit. I played around with other options in hopes that my uncle would not be an option. There were so many people who tried different angles in helping me raise the money needed for the World Cup.

The time came for me to return to South Africa and present the business plan to FIFA and hopefully sign the agreement. I was still short of the amount needed and made the decision to ask my uncle. I needed to pay the fee FIFA required from me when I signed the contract. At the end of the day I had to put my fears aside and prove that I wanted this very much. My mom and Kim were both anxious about what my uncle would say. I knew deep down he would not help.

I returned to South Africa and my first day back my uncle had a dinner at his place and I took the opportunity to pull him into a private room. The first thing I said to him was to please keep what I am about to ask him between us. At the time I honestly felt out of my fathers siblings I could trust him and he cared enough not to throw me under the bus by sharing what I was about to discuss with him. Even though I expected a no, I felt comfortable he would keep it between us. Especially because he knew how ruthless his siblings can be. I knew they would find joy in me needing help.

I explained to my uncle what I needed to raise to pay the FIFA royalties and the production of my World Cup bags. He asked me how much and I told him, he then replied by saying he didn’t have money at all. I would have respected him if he just said no because he didn’t owe me anything but saying he didn’t have money was not true. This is a man who owns a private plane, multiple mansions and countless cars. He is loaded. I wont lie it did sting but I moved on.

I remember my mom telling me that even though she didn’t care for them she hopped that he would have been able to put his feelings aside and made it about me. Kim’s response was it was unfortunate.

The thing about me is I was determined. Even though I was in a foreign country, that didn’t stop me from raising the money I needed to carry out my goals with FIFA. While I was a bit short with the money needed at the signing of the contract, the FIFA officials were generous enough to give me the time I needed to raise more money while proceeding with our agreement. This allowed me to start the production phase and made me an official FIFA licensee immediately. It took several investors from South Africa and The United States of America to make it all come together. Some people invested $5,000 to $20,000 and more.
Raising the money was not easy and required a bit of temporary insanity but I did it, again I had those mixed feelings. I was happy I did it without my family and sad I did without them. I guess the feeling sad for doing without them was the part that needed to prove I was worthy of their love and acknowledgment.

Page 26 Diamonds

When I arrived to my meeting with the FIFA officials, they informed that my contract was at its last stages. They called for the meeting to assure me and take away any concerns I had on me getting the agreement. They also said I needed to prepare my business plan for the World Cup because it needed to be included with the contract. My business plan would decide what my license fee would be. The officials didn’t tell me what the smallest requirement was on the amount they would accept in order for me to become a licensee. I needed to make sure that my plan met the least amount required without much information.

I still had another week left before heading back to the USA and spent most of it at my uncle Perkins home. My uncle was very busy and most of the time I spent with his wife, she was very intrigued with me. There was something about the way she looked at me and conversations we would have. It wasn’t uncomfortable but I remember wondering why was she this way with me? It was different from the way my fathers sisters treated me. They were nice to me too but something was different about the way aunt Linda embraced me. I want to say, it felt genuine. I couldn’t fully understand why she was the way she was with me especially because I didn’t remember her and my mother never talked about her. I felt like I could trust her more than I could my other aunts because of her warm embrace.

Aunt Linda would tell me stories about myself when I was a child in Swaziland. She also asked questions about my mom but I never answered her directly. When I was with my father side of the family, discussions about my mother were not up for discussion. With the history between my mother and my father’s family I didn’t think it was right. I would always respond by saying she was fine and give that polite smile. I also picked up that my aunt Linda wasn’t so popular with my father sisters. I was often caught between the crossfire. Sometimes I would be invited to places or given gifts because it was a way to stick it to someone else, without me knowing it. I learned more about that as I got to learn more about my family.

On one of the days while visiting, my aunt Linda took me shopping. We went to a popular store that my family goes to for jewelry. I remembered some of the pieces from Maru’s 21st, my aunt Arma borrowed me some earrings from her collection. I’m not a big fan of my Arma’s style but the earring she borrowed me were very beautiful. When my aunt Linda and I arrived at the jewelry store I thought she was going to buy something for herself. Instead she told me to pick a pair of earrings. I was beyond shocked, it was too much!!! She insisted I pick a pair. I picked out a pair of classic 3 carat diamond stud earrings. I still couldn’t believe it. She then told me to pick a necklace. I really couldn’t believe it, I told her the earrings were more than enough. I could tell by saying that I was at the borderline of almost insulting her so I went to look at the necklaces.
I picked out a 3 tier diamond necklace. Again, still in disbelief at what just happened and grateful at the same time.

She told me that her middle daughter Roslyn has the same ones. She was talking about my cousin who lives in the UK and the one they describe as weird, like me. Later that day my aunt Arma was having a celebratory lunch, I can’t remember what the occasion was. All of my family from Botswana and Swaziland travelled to SA for it. It seemed like my family travelled to SA every month for an accession. The funerals I could understand but sometimes it just felt like they were traveling to have lunch together. When I arrived at my aunt Arma’s place for lunch I pulled my father into a room and showed him what my aunt bought me. He seemed happy about it, I would later find out that he wasn’t. I also showed the gifts to my other cousins and older sister and they seemed excited too, at least I thought. It turns out I was the only niece who received such an extravagant gift from my aunt Linda and it didn’t sit well with the others.

During the lunch my father was one of the few selected to give a speech, I mentioned on “Page 13 Maru’s 21st” that my family is big on speeches. My dad started by thanking the family for welcoming me and brought up the wonderful gift that my aunt bought for me earlier. He made sure to not mention my aunt Linda’s name and only thanked my uncle. At the time I didn’t think it was intentional and felt really bad that he did not include my aunt. In my family being recognized is a big thing, it’s taken personally when a person is not recognized for their goodwill. I found out later that my aunt Linda and father’s relationship was not in a good place at the time and he purposely did not mention her. He took a kind act towards me and used it to hurt her. I was caught in the crossfire in a way that I shouldn’t have been. I felt really bad for aunt Linda and could tell by her facial reaction that she was upset.

The following day I went back to the USA and showed my mother the gift from aunt Linda. She never talked about her and I figured since she was an in-law the relationship wasn’t as bad between the two, I couldn’t have been further from the truth. When my mom saw the gifts she barely said two words and the conversation moved to something else. I knew from that moment aunt Linda and my mom had a previous relationship and clearly it wasn’t a good one.
After some time, I found out that there was more to the gifts my aunt Linda purchased for me. Again, I was caught in the crossfire and was clueless about it. This time it was between my mother and aunt Linda. Here I was thinking I was special and excited about what my aunt did for me, yet it was not about me. She wanted to give a message…