Remember when Forbes magazine tried it with us making it seem as though one could wake up one day as anything they had ever imagined themselves being without any input from others. Well, Boardroom Dancing, a novel way ahead of its time details how two prominent African proverbs – ”umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” and ”it takes a village to raise a child” – have always played their part in people’s success.
In this 230 page novel, corporate Activist and businesswoman Nolitha Fakude, takes us on her journey and experiences of failure, palpable racism, self-doubt, assimilation and realizing her worthwhile navigating her way up the corporate ladder. First introduced to the idea of assimilation in her early childhood years due to her ”special childhood” life afforded to her by educated parents.
Fakude went above and beyond to not feel out of place due to her well-off life. However, It didn’t take long for Fakude to realize that no matter how hard you try to fit it in, if its not made for you, it’ll never happen – a lesson taught to her by her cheeky mother who would always snap her back to reality.
As we all know it, our childhood experiences play their part in our present and future and for Fakude, it was no different. Her matriarchal growth set up, which saw her hands-on at home, bore her indomitable, resilient, tenacious, passionate and persistent (traits inherited from her mother) spirit rise to the occasion in her 29-year career.
Fakude was awarded her first taste of corporate life when she applied for the Woolworths’ Graduate Training Programme. An application prompted both by her yearning for liberation and all the knowledge garnered during her childhood days of helping at her family general dealer store. Selling herself short thinking she’d just end up in human resources, little did she know that her 12 years there, would awaken her undying vision of a changed South Africa in which previously disadvantaged persons would be granted a space in the working sector, a voice in a country that would rather have them shut and dignity which was once stripped off from them.
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” (in Fakude’s case mentors) is a quote that resonates deeply in me with every page turn.
Fakude’s passion for alignment in life, saw her meet like-minded people who stopped at nothing to make sure that their efforts for change yielded results.
Her yearning for cohesion – for businesses to not stop at talking but go as far as implementing their words and maintaining an image they’ve created saw Fakude leave an indelible mark in every position she has held. Poise, grace, and her “teach me” attitude awarded her opportunities she never fought for. Her name was mentioned in rooms her feet had never set foot in, proof that once you know what it is that you’d stand for even if it means standing for it alone, your work will always speak for itself.
There’s no such thing as “self-made”. Boardroom Dancing is a harsh reminder to the youth to that in order for your work to speak for itself, grab every opportunity awarded to you, associate yourself with like-minded people and take time to discover your niche and keep at it until it yields your desired results.
Fakude’s story also reminds us that some years are for growing and some are for blooming. A reminder to go bravely and deeply by taking the first step even without seeing the whole staircase.
Black Child, your dreams are valid.