Elon Musk He knows how to dominate the news, but despite the intense media coverage aroused by the richest man in the world, the beginnings of the entrepreneur in apartheid South Africa are still obscure.
In the midst of a debate on a possible takeover of Twitter, his father Musk Errol explain to AFP who raised his sons Elon and Kimbal in austerity, like good “South African boys”, instilling in them from an early age the rigor and discipline he learned in the army.
“I was a strict father. My word was law,” he says, assuring that Elon’s ambition was fueled by this education with a deliberately macho touch.
“It was our way of being. We strive to give the best of ourselves,” says the 76-year-old man with a weathered face, a clear forehead and a steely gaze in his home in the coastal town of Lanbebaan, near Cape Town. Town.
“It’s kind of our brand,” he adds.
Elon Musk He was born in Pretoria on June 28, 1971, the son of this engineer and real estate developer and Maye, a Canadian model.
Like many other young people of his generation, he will end up leaving South Africa to avoid military service at the height of apartheid.
Before leaving the country, he grew up mainly with his father after his parents divorced. At the age of nine, “I saw him come down from the station radiant one morning, he had taken a night train all alone” after leaving his mother’s house, explains Errol.
Elon often spoke of a sad childhood. And he distanced himself from his father when he had a son in 2017 with the daughter of his ex-wife, 42 years his junior.
“It didn’t seem fair to Elon. I take life as it comes,” says the father, assuring that after this breaking point, their relationship has improved.
“We have affection for each other,” he says. Errol Musk. “I always think about how it was with my own father. He was in the military, we didn’t talk much. At lunch on Sunday, I said ‘hello dad’ and he was going to do his crossword puzzle.”
Her relationship with Elon “isn’t that different,” she admits.
The polemics of the businessman Tesla and SpaceX, in particular on Twitter, have become routine. But Errol says his son has always been eccentric.
“He was a cunning and reckless young man”, who intervened in adult conversations. “At the age of four, he was already listening” to political and economic stories.
“One day Elon announced that when he grew up he would be a millionaire,” his father recalls. Laughing, a drink and a cigarette in hand, an adult replied that “the little one” could be disappointed.
“Elon’s reaction was like, ‘Wow! I think you’re stupid,'” he continues. “Typical Elon,” he said. “It’s in their nature to tell people” the truth, without filter.
The relative also recalls a hurtful comment Elon made to a classmate whose father had taken his own life. “The boy threw him down the stairs” and Elon had to be hospitalized, he says.
After the initial anger, “when I heard what Elon had said to him, I realized he had crossed the line”. After the incident, Errol enrolled his son in the prestigious Pretoria Boys’ School.
The South African press assured that the tycoon had donated one million rand (60,000 euros, 64,000 dollars) to the center in exchange for never mentioning him in their promotional material.
“It’s a non-story,” a former director tells AFP. Indeed, he gave twice the money to the school, but “so much nonsense has been written on this issue”, says this man who prefers to remain anonymous.
Your relationship with Elon Musk they were made by his assistant. It’s the same method the entrepreneur uses with his father Errol.
Communication with Musk is tightly controlled, with the exception of Twitter, where he speaks generously. Nevertheless, Errol describes him as the “nicest” of his children.
During the interview with AFP, The father claims to have received an email from Elon offering to pay for a recent eye operation, another example of his son’s generosity, according to him.
“Elon is very caring. He really means it when he says he wants to save humanity. It’s not a slogan,” he says.
The last time she saw her famous son, who currently lives in Texas, was six years ago on his 70th birthday.
“I’m a South African man, I don’t care what my birthday is, but it was very nice,” he says. Unbeknownst to him, Elon has invited famous friends, including several Hollywood actresses, to Cape Town.
During this meal, they talked about Donald Trump. “So I said, ‘Yeah, I support Trump,'” Errol recalled. “He’s a winner. Like me, Elon and Kimbal,” his other son.
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