This Is Why Elon Musk Left South Africa

Madman. Billionaire maverick. Chaotic neutral tweeter. The world's first future failed consciousness transfer experiment. That guy who named his electric cars after that scientist who was totally cool and had a sweet moustache. All of these things, and plenty more, could be said of Elon Musk, the man whose name even sounds like a fictional version of himself. According to CNBC, Musk has come quite a long ways from sleeping in his first office with his brother Kimbal at their 1996 startup Zip2, which created online city guides before Google Maps. He sold that company to Compaq for $300 million, founded, which later became PayPal, and then sold that and went on to found SpaceX and Tesla.

Musk is a person whose very nature inspires curiosity, and folks often want to know more about the futurist, technologist, and entrepreneur's life. People generally know that he was born in South Africa and that he graduated from Stanford. In another article on CNBC, some strange Twitter rumor started that Musk got his money from his father's emerald mine. Musk responded by saying this was ridiculous, and that he left home at 17 with nothing but a backpack and some books. He then worked on a farm and a lumber mill in Canada before eventually winding up at Queen's University, then the University of Pennsylvania, and leaving with over $100,000 in student debt before going on to start the aforementioned Zip2. 

But why did Elon Musk leave home to begin with?

Fleeing from violence and pain to seek out opportunity

According to The South African, there's a variety of reasons why Elon Musk left South Africa, and one of them, at least, has to do with his father, Eroll. Eroll has reportedly gotten into a relationship with his own step-daughter and fathered a child with a woman 42 years younger than he. Musk said of him, "Almost every crime you can possibly think of, he has done. Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done. He was such a terrible human being."

Another reason Musk left home was that his mom has Canadian citizenship, which he therefore shares, so it was simply a good choice for him when thinking of the future. Additionally, Canada was a gateway to Silicon Valley, full of "all the cool stuff." Musk did exactly that: He leveraged his education in Canada to move to the US and build a startup. And before all these things, Musk was the victim of some serious school violence that was so severe he was forced to change schools to Pretoria High. Nothing was done to resolve the incident, and it played a part in making Musk want to leave to begin with.

Beyond all these, though, per Foreign Policy, the biggest reason was likely to avoid mandatory military service in South Africa, then still in the grip of apartheid. Musk said, "Suppressing Black people just didn't seem like a really good way to spend time."