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PROFILE: Herman Mashaba – An unapologetic capitalist crusader

When ActionSA founder and leader Herman Mashaba kicks off his shoes at the end of the day, it is in front of his piano and with a glass of whiskey on top.

Mashaba bought himself a grand piano at an exhibition in Sandton more than 10 years ago and learned his way through the keys within three months.

“I went for lessons to have an idea where the keys are. Now, I spend a lot of time in front of the piano teaching myself. My music is about my emotions,” he says.

Mashaba says music keeps him going as a person and he has an impressive collection of jazz, soul and R&B vinyl records.

“Music is part of me, it helped me to survive apartheid and poverty,” he says.

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Mashaba describes himself as an unapologetic capitalist crusader and says his book, Capitalist Crusader, was very close to his heart.

“The idea of this book was to show our people you can get out of a shack and become someone Because that is where I come from,” he says.

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba plays the piano at his home in Sandton, 19 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba plays the piano at his home in Sandton, 19 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen

“It is important to show children not to allow politicians to treat them like victims. The only way they could survive is by telling you about your past. It is good to know the history, but don’t subject yourself to it.”

Mashaba’s childhood

Mashaba grew up in what he calls a tin house in a child-headed household after he lost his father at the age of two.

“But the man who made an impression on me was my grandfather, Koos Mashaba, who worked as security guard at the GaRankuwa municipality. He called me Highman. I still don’t know what he meant,” he says.

At the age of 14, Mashaba changed his name to Herman. “This name of Highman was too much. But for my grandfather, my success was non-negotiable. I grew up under pressure,” he says.

Mashaba says he detested his grandfather as a young man because he thought he was putting him under pressure. He only realised later his grandfather was his biggest fan.

“He instilled a lot of values in me. He taught me never to judge people on what they say, but rather on what they do,” he says.

“And never to give someone who misled me a second chance. People think I am brutal, but when you double-cross Herman Mashaba, you will see my brutality. I don’t mislead people.”

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba plays one of his favourite albums from King Curtis at his home in Sandton, 19 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba plays one of his favourite albums from King Curtis at his home in Sandton, 19 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen

Mashaba’s face lights up when he talks about his love life. He says he met the love of his life after he completed matric in 1978.

“After the exams, I saw this beautiful woman. I saw Connie at Miss Hans Kekana for the first time and married her four years later,” he says.

40th wedding anniversary

The couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

“I got married at the age of 22 to protect myself from myself. My wife played that role. We grew up naughty without parents, so when I went into business, I realised I needed stability,” he says.

After getting married, he bought a car and, two months later, he resigned from his job.He became a businessman who made an income from commission until he conceived the idea of hair product company Black Like Me in 1984.

He started the business the following year – and the rest was history. Currently, Mashaba owns several businesses. He enjoys travelling the world with his wife and has visited Mauritius many times.

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba at his home in Sandton, 19 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba at his home in Sandton, 19 September 2022. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen

The couple not only travelled to the United States to see their favourite musical acts, but also took their children to Hollywood where they attended the Grammy Awards.

“My wife and I also had the privilege of participating in a real carnival in Rio. Not to watch, but to participate as part of one of the samba schools,” he says.

He adds it was a process which had them sending their measurements for their costumes a year in advance.

“We arrived in Rio a week before the event. They came to us every day at the hotel to do training,” he says.

Mashaba, who has travelled to countries such as Dubai, Mexico and Bali, says it was hard to choose his favourite destination because each place offered a different experience. But this conversation wasn’t going to end without his views on politics.

“I grew up thinking the ANC was a liberation movement. But I am disappointed today to call them a criminal enterprise,” he says.

Mashaba says that’s why ActionSA will emerge as the second biggest party in the country.

“I hate this job. Politics is a punishing job. I have to do it and I won’t leave until we have unseated the ANC. I hate them because they forced me into politics.”

Mashaba says he wouldn’t work with criminals.

“I refuse to work with the ANC. It’s a criminal organisation,” he says.

– marizkac@citizen.co.za

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