Kenny Kunene was raised by his mother and grandparents. Kunene's mother has served as an Evangelist and faith healer. While he was growing up near Odendaalsrus his grandmother, a midwife, was the family's sole breadwinner.
Kunene attended Vista University and later became an English teacher. Kunene later turned to crime, however, and was imprisoned from 1997 to 2003 after being convicted of running a ponzi scheme. While in prison, he often organised parties among the inmates to build goodwill among his fellow inmates. After he was released he began marketing the work of former bank robber Gayton McKenzie who had since become a motivational speaker. Kunene and McKenzie then invested in a seafood distribution business. Kunene has also worked as a public relations consultant and lobbyist for mining companies. In March 2012 the Hawks (special police investigative unit) spokesman McIntosh Polela confirmed that the Hawks have done an investigation into Kunene regarding fraudulent representations to communities and potential shareholders as part of the application for mining rights by Central Rand Gold (CRG). No charges were, however, ever levelled.
Kunene was a supporter of the African National Congress until 2013 when he wrote a scathing open letter to President Jacob Zuma criticising his leadership. In July 2013, Kunene briefly joined the Economic Freedom Fighters as a high-profile member of the organisation's "Central Command Team" before resigning from the organisation in August 2013.
Kunene is known for his appreciation of sushi, and has been referred to in South Africa as "The Sushi King" or "Mr. Sushi". His birthday party on 21 October 2010 that hosted the then ANCYL president Julius Malema and featured nyotaimori was criticised by COSATU secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, leading to a political row. Also, the ANCWL condemned nyotaimori at Kunene's party as an attack on the bodily integrity and dignity of women in South Africa.
Kunene was the star of South African reality television show So What: Big Money, Big Dreams which aired on e.tv during 2011. In 2013, he appeared in the fourth episode of the British travel documentary television series The Moaning of Life. In April 2014, Kunene was the Roastee of Comedy Central Africa's Roast of Kenny Kunene.
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