Boardroom Dancing by Nolitha Fakude
(PanMacmillan, 2019, R290)
The tale of corporate activist and inspirational businesswoman Nolitah Fakude’s journey from the dry, dusty Eastern Cape to some of the most prestigious boardrooms in the country is a compelling read that will resonate with many, not least the growing number of South African women determined to make their mark in industry.
Billed as a memoir, Boardroom Dancing is so much more. Simply told, it weaves a tale of fortitude and resilience while highlighting the deep impact of even the most fleeting human connections. Fakude grew up as a shopkeeper’s daughter in a village of 350 residents, studied at the University of Fort Hare and entered the workplace as a graduate trainee at Woolworths. Now the group director and chairperson of Anglo American’s management board, she also serves on various boards and has established a reputation as a pioneer at the forefront of transformation strategy. Her recollections will resonate with many, not least because various individuals she encountered along the way are woven into the tapestry of South African history and culture.
Did you know, for example, that Fakude hosted Winnie Madikizela Mandela for more than a year after the first democratic election – when media accounts at the time had “Mama Winnie living large in a five-star Cape Town hotel at taxpayers’ expenses”. Then there’s Fakude’s surprising connection to Happy Sindane, the mixed-race boy who made national headlines when he claimed to be white, and kidnapped by a coloured family.
Hailed by Doctor Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (UN Deputy Secretary-General and executive director of UN Women), as “a masterclass in how success might be achieved”, Boardroom Dancing highlights the importance of the human connection and our shared experiences, and is the ideal read for women fighting for their place in a predominantly male-driven workplace.