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.”