Friends & Friction: Why women should head up companies

2014-02-20 10:00

We are in the middle of a revolution that started long before we were born and will probably continue long after we’re gone. As a people, we have endured relentless oppression over hundreds of years and a systematic obliteration of our history and culture.

We have become a traumatised nation that has to lock itself behind burglar bars and sophisticated alarm systems linked to private armies. We have the leaders, but they seem to have no direction. And in the absence of a compelling and uniting vision, we have turned against each other.

This is not happening in the political sphere alone, but in many other facets of our society.

According to legend, when King Shaka’s general, Soshangane, conquered the Xitsonga-speaking people, he ordered the men to pierce their ears like amaZulu and banned them from speaking their language.

He failed in his wicked intentions because the mothers continued to teach their children Xitsonga inside their homes. Today, the language remains an integral part of the rich tapestry that makes up South Africa.

Truth be told, it was the women in the homes who taught children about ubuntu when apartheid was bent on extinguishing everything to do with it.

It is not surprising, because by definition, the word ‘woman’ means the “womb of man”, which is the source of man himself. She is the guiding star in a desert of darkness, which is why foundation-phase teachers are almost exclusively women.

It is time for the men in the top echelons of our corporations to acknowledge this and accept that women are best placed to be teachers and guides of the values, culture and traditions of a company.

No doubt, women have always had it tough. It started in the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. That’s what we know her for. Nothing else.

Men are by nature paranoid, fearing all women want is to get to the top. So a woman cannot become good at what she does without being accused of “penis envy”.

Women can and have the right to do anything they want, including pursuing their dreams.

I have no doubt women can run our defence force better than those men in uniform. We know from Shirley Eskapa’s book, Woman versus Woman (which is about how women deal with the “other woman”), that women can wage ferocious wars that make World War?2 look tame.

Long before misogynist hip-hop became popular, there were The O’Jays, who had a hit called She’s Only A Woman. “You see my woman,” the singers cried, “she carries this big whole world on her shoulders and never says a word.”

When that song played on the radio, you couldn’t help but have great respect for the many women who earned a pittance, yet were able to feed their families and pay for their children’s education without assistance from any government.

Women are naturals at performing miracles. Give her sperm and she’ll make you a baby; give her flour and she’ll bake you a cake. If corporate South Africa wants to win in this fiercely competitive world, it needs to put more of these miracle workers in top positions.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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