Bertha Mkhize, Eleanor Xiniwe, Paul Xiniwe, Elias Moretsele, Allison Wessels George Champion, Ephraim Tshabalala, Robert Baloyi and Richard Maponya are some of the people who defied the odds and build successful businesses during the darkest period in South Africa.
These names and many others should be remembered and celebrated for not only their roles in building their successful businesses during the pre-colonial and colonial eras, but how they proved that Black people do not need government favors to achieve success in business.
In Native Merchants- the Building of the Black Business Class in South Africa, Phakamisa Ndzamela thoroughly went down to the books of history and dug out the names of women and men who, in the face of oppression and adversity, managed to be owners of hotels, farms, restaurants, laundry centers, butcheries, taxis, and media houses.
Inside the pages of this book, I was introduced to so many great Black entrepreneurs, whose successes has been intentionally buried with their names in their graves because they were not only thorns to the forefathers of the current beneficiaries of colonial and apartheid legacies, but they dispel the often-repeated and unfair narrative in the democratic dispensation that always ties the Black businesses’ successes to the ruling political elite .
I really need to give credit to Phakamisa for writing this great piece of history about the historical commercial activities of Black businesses in the darkest period in South Africa.
I appreciate how he thoroughly went deeper into showing some of the difficulties that these Black entrepreneurs faced from the then powerful authorities, but still managed to be successful. To this day, some of the businesses are still standing, Richard Maponya empire is one such perfect example.
Native Merchants is a thoroughly-researched account and a must-read book that every patriotic South Africans should take a leaf from, especially the current Black entrepreneurs. Because it will motivate them to keep going, but most importantly, it will show them the importance of working together in building successful Black businesses just like how their forefathers did in the darkest period in SA.
I must admit that I found the text a little bit academic, and for some readers who are not used to that kind of reading, it might slow down their pace of reading.
Besides that, this is a must-read book on the history of Black entrepreneurship in South Africa. We need books such as this in order to fully understand and appreciate the importance of redress policies such as Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment in the democratic dispensation.