GG has been at times a shebeen owner, political activist, community worker, African adventurer, entrepreneur & marketer. He is fluent in Zulu and conversant in most South African ethnic languages.
Born White, Zulu Bred
GG Alcock was born in Msinga, then one of the most poverty stricken and violent parts of KwaZulu-Natal. GG’s activist parents, Neil and Creina Alcock, raised their two sons in a mud hut with no running water, electricity or modern conveniences and they grew up like young Zulu boys. Zulu reared and bred, the boys learnt the essence of how to survive in a harsh world – valuable skills that have undoubtedly contributed to GG’s success as an entrepreneur.
GG considers himself an Economic Activist, excavating the silence and opening eyes to the invisible economies of our cities, kasi’s and rural homelands. He advocates for government and formal business sector recognition, support, empowerment and consideration of the informal economy and the kasipreneurs who represent the future for our economic growth.
GG’s early work life was in human rights and land rights organisations focussing on the rural land sector fighting for the rights of black people dispossessed of their land. With the changes brought about by the unbanning of the ANC and new dispensation GG moved to KwaNdongaziyaduma, the walls that thunder, Joburg and into business.
In 1999, GG founded Minanawe Marketing, an activations business which pioneered marketing to township and informal mass markets in South Africa.
Minanawe Marketing, was the first agency in South Africa to focus entirely on the township or informal sector at a time – as hard as it is to believe now – when very few people believed there was a market in the mass or black market, as it was called.
GG’s unique upbringing and extensive time in mass informal markets has given him the ability to unearth unique insights and creatively apply these to marketing solutions for a number of multinational companies.
Minanawe’ s unique market intel and shopper understanding became the basis of GG’s books Kasinomics, and KasiNomic Revolution. Minanawe Marketing rapidly became the agency of choice to talk to, to activate, distribute and unearth insights into this market. After selling Minanawe in 2018, GG founded Kasinomics.
How I was named GG
In the custom of the Zulu people a man is named after an event or a character trait. So it was that my brother was named Khonya, the bull bellower, his baby cries evoking the bellows of a bull, later his personality evoking the power of a bull. And I was named after an event.
On the day of my birth the GG trucks arrived to remove the people from the land; it was a time of anger, terror, a time of loss and dispossession, the time of GG.
Apartheid meant that the land must be whitened, verblanking the Afrikaners called it. To make it white meant to bulldoze, beat and break down whole communities, loading them protesting and weeping into the GG (Government Garage) licensed trucks and dumping them and their meagre and pathetic possessions in what the government called the homelands. The homelands of course were chosen for being arid, useless scrubby places which no one wanted, but an official had drawn a line on a map and these places became KwaZulu, Transkei, Bophuthatswana, the so-called homelands of the Zulu, Xhosa and Tswana people. These places had been chosen for their lack of agricultural potential and infrastructure, and for their remoteness, away from view and hidden from hope. To halt this terrible tearing of people from their land the only defence was media exposure and court battles; physical resistance was futile, the state’s machinery violent.
My parents were among those few white people who fought the injustices of the forced removals, my father facing down the bulldozers while my journalist mother banged out press releases begging a reluctant world to listen, to protest. Hours after my birth she was propped up in her bed while my father dictated the bitter misery of more removals. She wove her written magic on her cranky old typewriter, the joys of first motherhood shoved aside for a greater cause.
Wenzani UGG, aganagi noku naga . . . ‘What is GG doing, not caring at all, throwing my father’s house out into the wilderness’, went the Juluka song of the time. And while the huge Bedford trucks with the GG registration plates rumbled up and down carting their displaced human cargoes of misery I was named GG and it was this name that stuck, not the sweet Marc John I was christened, but the name of the conqueror, GG. Why don’t you care, GG, what have you done to my people, GG? The poetic ironies of my Zulu elders! (excerpt from Third World Child)