Rolly Nkawe’s first job was as a cashier in a municipal bottle store in Soweto at a time when black South Africans were not allowed to hold liquor licenses. The experience gave him the urgent wish to own his own business one day.
Today, the 74-year-old owns his own bottle store, but it is only one of a string of businesses that he managed to build up over a long entrepreneurial career that started at the epicentre of the Soweto riots in the tumultuous seventies.
But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Rolly, who owns The Roadhouse business complex in Dobsonville, Soweto, is that he is still in full swing, not only running all of his existing businesses, but starting new ones. In his latest venture, he is about to build a Sasol service station in Protea Glen, Soweto.
Rolly grew up in Rustenburg but matriculated at Morris Isaacson High School where the Soweto Uprising erupted a few years later. Rolly’s whole life would be disrupted by the tumult of the times, but at the same time his career is a testament to the opportunities that emerged as a result of that struggle for freedom.