Mul­timil­lion­aire pas­tor TD Jakes has a heav­enly busi­ness plan


A man who is a close friend of Oprah Win­frey, an ad­viser to the past three US pres­i­dents, a lover of be­spoke suits and one of the wealth­i­est re­li­gious lead­ers in the world preached to the con­verted in Dur­ban this week.

Bishop TD Jakes, a mul­timil­lion­aire who was once on the cover of Time mag­a­zine, was at the con­tro­ver­sial Essence Festival to give a mo­ti­va­tional talk and a gospel per­for­mance and to launch his book Soar.

The festival, which cost the city R18-mil­lion in li­cens­ing fees alone, has been called a “waste of money” by crit­ics. But Philip Sit­hole, eThek­wini mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s act­ing head of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, has de­fended the festival, say­ing it was “a de­vel­op­ment project and not a com­mer­cial ven­ture”.

Sit­hole noted that events had been sold out or over­sub­scribed. Aside from Jakes, the festival’s en­ter­tain­ment week­end fea­tured a con­cert head­lined by Jill Scott, a car­ni­val and a host of free busi­ness, culi­nary and cook­ing events.

Jakes — who spent four nights in the pres­i­den­tial suite at the five-star Oys­ter Box ho­tel in Umh­langa at a cost of ap­prox­i­mately R50 000 a night — told the Sunday Times about his new book.

“It is a prac­ti­cal, prag­matic game plan of how to get your busi­ness started, even though you may not have the nec­es­sary cap­i­tal,” he said. The en­tre­pre­neur­ial pas­tor, who runs the non­de­nom­i­na­tional megachurch The Pot­ter’s House in Texas, with a con­gre­ga­tion of 30 000, of­ten preaches on how to be wealthy and suc­cess­ful.

In April, the mag­a­zine The Rich­est es­ti­mated his net worth at $18-mil­lion (about R243-mil­lion).

Jakes said there would al­ways be con­flict if there was no path to up­ward mo­bil­ity. “We have to find ways to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to live bet­ter. On the sur­face, di­a­logue may have racial con­no­ta­tions; be­neath it is a cry for eco­nomic equal­ity.”

Ten years ago Jakes had his DNA an­a­lysed, which linked him to the Igbo peo­ple in what is now Nige­ria. “Com­ing back to Africa gives you a sense of her­itage, roots and a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of one­self,” he said. “Cul­ture did not orig­i­nate for us from slav­ery. It’s over­whelm­ing to be able to em­brace the cul­ture as it ex­isted for my an­ces­tors.”

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