Polished diamond: Tokyo Sexwale.

Position:S. Africa's Black Business Elite

Sexwale's highly profitable Mvelaphanda Resources became the first company in South Africa to enter a partnership with De Beers.

Sexwale had spent 13 years on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, the world's greatest statesman, was banished for 27 years during apartheid rule. It was there that he found love, with Judy van Vuuren--a paralegal secretary who conducted his defence during his trial. He became a symbol of sorts when his marriage to the Afrikaner woman became public knowledge. For many, the marriage showed reconciliation was truly possible in the new South Africa.

By the time he became the premier of Gauteng, South Africa's richest province, everyone knew Tokyo Sexwale. When, in the late 1990s at the end of his term as Gauteng premier, he announced he was quitting everyday politics to go into business, some of his colleagues in the ruling ANC could not understand why. President Nelson Mandela tried--in vain--to persuade him to stay.

Sexwale, now 51 years old, has since become an amazingly successful South African black businessman, heading one of the country's biggest profit-making mining companies, Mvelaphanda Resources. Mvelaphanda is Venda, for 'progress' and he could not have given the company a better name. The company...

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