MONDE NDLOVU: 'I've been greatly privileged to have been part of the BMF family'

OPINION

The concept of a home or rather the reality of home means something different to all of us. Some cringe at the thought of home, and others feel a sense of purpose and acceptance at the thought of home.

The Black Management Forum (BMF) for me has taken the latter definition of home, a place of acceptance and purpose. I have been greatly privileged to have been part of the BMF family for almost nine years. And in the process, I have learned invaluable lessons about myself and the cause of the organisation. It was incumbent on me to reflect on this moment, as I step down as the Head of Advocacy and Thought-Leadership of the BMF.

For the most part, I have been running away from the BMF stable because I always held the view that it was my father’s space, and I had no business “sharing” the same environment. The transformational force of attraction pulled me into the environment, and the organisation found me and embraced me. Since the death of my late father Lot Ndlovu, the BMF descended into my life and my family’s life without permission, because of what my father meant to the organisation.

There are indeed key leaders in the BMF who have played a vital role in my development as a leader today.

Mncane Mthunzi, who has been a present older brother and keen engager, Prof. Bonang Mohale, who challenged us to put the organisation first, Mam Cecilia Khuzwayo, for being a stern sounding board, Prof. Wiseman Nkuhlu, for displaying what it means to be a consensus-building leader, Bab Jabu Hlongwane, for walking the road with me, Zeth Malele, whose humour and enunciation resembles my father, Vusi Sithole, for always supporting the legacy of my father, Busi Mavuso, who encouraged me to fully immerse myself, Dudu Msomi, who enthused me to believe in my leadership, Maemo Kobe, for allowing us to be part of the restructuring process of the Head office, Andile Nomlala, for giving me space to articulate the views of the organisation and to drive thought leadership in the public domain, Dr Reuel Khoza, for inspiring us to mind our thoughts, and Bab Eric Mafuna, the founder of the BMF, for instilling cathedral thinking into my leadership arsenal.

I have a lot to thank my late father for when it comes to learning what leadership is and how it should apply itself.

In the early 1990s, when the winds of change were blowing and the wheels of transformation were in top gear, I had the privilege of being exposed to business and leadership practice by my father. Almost daily, there would be something about the BMF and something about Nedcor (currently known as Nedbank Group).

As a boy, I would watch my father shave and dress up in a suit or traditional attire, requesting me to hand him over his briefcase, which had an important tool, his diary. I would often be taken to meetings and engagements, where I would witness quality debate, with very little comprehension. The boardroom also became a powerful symbol in my head, where leaders meet and discuss pertinent issues. We would also sit around the TV or radio and listen to him articulate the BMF position on affirmative action. My older siblings would phone in to ask him a question or two, and you could almost sense his joy in answering those questions.

The leadership model I grew up under had four components: a suit, a briefcase, a diary, and a boardroom. This model was underpinned by my father’s leadership philosophy of courage and compassion. This model represents the true nature of power, where you project a particular posture in how you dress, by carrying a diary of ideas and sitting in a boardroom where key decisions must be made. This model challenges us to think about how best we can show up in decision-making spaces and highlights that we must always bring the best ideas to the fore, and not fear robust engagements.

The Black Management Forum, therefore, is an idea, and not a person. No one person can ever be larger than the organisation and its mandate. It is the mandate that dictates and sets the tone for members to follow suit. This BMF idea is anchored on creating a home for black professionals who can express themselves and build their confidence. The values of the organisation seek to replicate themselves throughout society. The BMF stands as the vanguard of transformation, and as a bridge for successive generational leaders.

I have been greatly favoured, and deeply humbled by the role that has been entrusted to me by the BMF. I will remain a member of the Johannesburg branch, which is the oldest branch. The journey towards economic transformation cannot be discharged without thoughtfulness and courage.

The BMF in my view remains the chief instrument that will be used to reach our destination - a destination where black people will manage, control, and own the economy.

Monde Ndlovu will be moving to African Leadership Development as a Consultant. You can follow him on Twitter @MondeLotNdlovu.