From sand to rock

22 July 2016

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IF GOLD could have been made to ooze out of his pores, Manoj Raithatha confesses that he would have been the first to find out how. Money equals power, financial success brings recognition, and making material progress was and still is the primary goal of the Asian community, he says.

He is frank about the desire he had to be “filthy rich”, as opposed to just rich. The cover of his book Filthy Rich: The property tycoon who struck real gold (Monarch, £8.99 (£8.10); 978-0-85721-590-1) portrays a man with a charm and confidence bordering on arrogance, and that’s the nature of the writing, too — fluent, disarming, and conversational.

Brought up in the UK and Kenya, he had significant brushes with Christianity in his youth, but the near-death of his infant son and the collapse of the mortgage market in 2008 led him to a commitment to Christ and a re-assessment of his values.

He had a multi-million-pound business buying homes in bulk and off-plan and selling them on for profit even before they had been built. It was a high-risk strategy. The collapse came brutally and without warning, and he now recognises his property business as “a business model that failed to reflect God’s values”.

He recounts his conversion and spiritual journey with ardour, honesty, and a very likeable humility. His passion for describing how he believes God reshaped his character and outlook is warming: “Life before Jesus was mayhem. . . I wasted so much of my life outside of God being disobedient.” Now he uses the power of business “to shape the world for good and God”.

But the book is tantalisingly thin on the detail of how the financial mess was sorted out, and how the new life in Christ existed for a time within the old life in business. As he loses interest in telling that story, the voice becomes less individual, which is a pity.

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