Dr Richard Maponya, the South African Father of Black Business, an entrepreneur and land developer who built a business empire despite the restrictions of apartheid has died.
Tributes that are pouring in on social media have described the man as a giant, legend and President Cyril Ramaphosa has described him as a trailblazer.
“We have lost a pioneer, a trailblazer and a man of extraordinary fortitude who paved the way for the racial transformation of the South African economy,” Ramaphosa said in a statement released by the Presidency.
A trained teacher, he started his businessin the clothing industry, but was blocked from opening a clothing store by the apartheid government which denied him an operating license.
However, that was not the end of the road for the defiant Maponya as he then established a milk delivery service in Soweto. By the 1970s he had grown his holding to a number of shops, petrol stations and car dealerships in Soweto.
In the 1980s he became the first black owner of a BMW car dealership in Soweto. The Mail & Guardian reports that Maponya also was the first black man to get horse-racing colours in apartheid South Africa. A sport which was conservatively restricted to the white population. "
"These were the black, green and gold of the then both banned African National Congress and Pan-Africanist Congress, making some white jockeys uncomfortable racing for him."
In 2007, he opened the magnus opus of his legacy, the Maponya Mall in Soweto. The "highlight" of his life, he told BBC's Lerato Mbele, was when his long-time friend Nelson Mandela opened his shopping mall.
The land on which the mall sits was purchased in the 1970s and there were several attempts from the apartheid government to dispossess him of the land, all of which he successfully resisted.
The story of Maponya's business career which spans over 50 years is a testament of African excellence. He has been described as a man who did not let obstacles hold him back from his goals. Ramaphosa has described him as a man who embodied sustainability and corporate responsibility well before they were academically defined, an embodiment of the spirit of ubuntu the heart of African culture.
In an interview at Maponya Mall's fifth anniversary celebrations, Maponya spoke against Black Economic Empowerment, citing how it takes away initiative from the young.
“It (BEE) is not a real thing because it takes away the self-initiative needed from young and up and coming entrepreneurs who must wake up and want to do the things themselves,”
The man dubbed "Soweto's most humble giant“ previously served as as a member of the Urban Bantu Council.
Dr Maponya was a founding member of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC) and as well as a chairman of the African Chamber of Commerce.