9 Comments

  • Zinhle Ngidi Posted November 26, 2020 11:43

    We Are The Ones We Need: The War On Black
    Professionals In Corporate South Africa (2018) by Sihle Bolani

  • Mamotladi Matloga Posted November 26, 2020 11:41

    I loved the book and could relate to the story. I believe it gives many young professionals, both in private and public employment, important guidelines about how to cope when faced with unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace.
    In her first job, Sihle’s own resolute spirit might have created discomfort, when she’d demanded to know what plans existed for her career path; and because they clearly didn’t exist…the demand created friction.
    It was probably more a case of not getting each other’s viewpoints and professional character. Sihle is driven and wants to plan ahead, especially where her career is concerned, and that might have come across, albeit wrongly, as more of a focus on the career ladder and remuneration rather than on the task at hand.
    Her experience at the bank on the other hand was a totally different story. That a bank could step so hard on employees’ toes just to appease a client, an agency they paid – not someone holding a bank account – smells of serious corruption and malpractice.
    Her supervisor Amanda’s tactics remind me of the character Lalang in Making Life and Lemonade, which I penned. I understood everything about the modus operandi.
    Sihle also brings to light the unfortunate workplace “culture” of respecting the talkers more than the quieter employees – who are often the creative, analytical thinkers; the implementers.
    People who want to understand an issue before opening their mouths are undermined while those who say something, no matter how unhelpful, are respected. It is important for managers to know how to make the most of individuals’ strengths.
    The author laments the lack of support from black colleagues who appeared to be cowards of sorts. But unlike Sihle who could lose her job today and join her mom’s business the next, I’d imagine that many of her black colleagues would’ve been trapped by a paycheck they desperately NEEDED month after month. Up until we liberate ourselves from that kind of dependency, we will not dare rock the boat.
    Barbara gave a comprehensive foreword, very rounded and well written by someone who’d clearly read the book in detail.
    I loved the book. I was turned off a bit more by the profanity than the repetitions I noticed. Well done on writing such an important story. I have no doubt many will find comfort and strength through the book.

  • Nicci Legoka Posted November 26, 2020 11:41

    Easy to read (I appreciated the short chapters), relatable to those who understand the dynamics and politics in corporate SA, an eye opener to those entering the world of work.

  • Zoleka Mbilini Posted November 26, 2020 11:41

    An incredible read. Sihle story resonated with me profoundly. It’s sad really, that we continue to witness and even experience victimization in corporate SA and there’s no outlet to seek refuge in.
    What struck a nerve with me was the reality that even our black counterparts will not stand with those that need their support in fear of losing a livelihood dependent on a job that’s eating away at your health and peace of mind etc.
    “Key to understanding oppression is the ability to identify that oppression survives by instilling fear- the fear of losing something of value, which in this case, is your livelihood.”
    The depth of this statement: “ The biggest problem with black executives in Corporate SA, they are paid millions and end up either transferring their own abusive experiences onto younger black professionals as a way to assert themselves or they just turn a blind eye to corporate violence against black professionals.” Because of this very nature, one should question how the cycle of corporate oppression will end?!

  • Zizo Posted November 26, 2020 11:40

    Sihle Bolani!! Whaaat a yeses!!
    I bought the book at 15:15, started reading as soon as I got home at 16:45, I flipped through the pages and by 19:00, I was on page 118. Okay, I’m a fast reader but listen, I stopped at that random page only because I had started getting hot flashes and under-skin goosebumps, I needed a minute- to process HOW someone could live my very own experience in the legal corporate world so accurately and equally cruel!! I didn’t actually take a minute to process, I took the rest of the day!
    She starts off the book on a highly relatable note- the surprise and gift of young motherhood in the midst of her pursuit for success. The book is boldly written, it narrates events one can easily and passionately follow. The characters, you cannot forget the characters, their names and their demeanor, perhaps because they are real. I could almost hear “a voice” as I read through it, it was a voice of a triumphant black woman who once thought there was no way out of the cut through corporate world but has now had an epiphany, one that has dragged on for years but has somehow freed her.

    This book is a gift to black women in the corporate world, women who have been silent and needed a mouthpiece. Sihle becomes that that for all of us. Not just for black South African women, the book speaks a universal language, its for all black women!! JUST GO BUY IT, and keep it for your younger sister, daughter, whoever intends to enter the corporate space, they will thank you for the gift that jt is to black consciousness in the 21st century. I wish I read it straight after my LLB graduation.
    PS: there are a lot of lengthy emails in the book and although they may seem ”too much”, I think they are necessary- its the only way the author can relay her exact experience. Had she narrated the emails herself, the book wouldn’t have exposed the rawness of her reality and the crudeness of her antagonists. I for one had to go through a similar experience and the emails in her book aren’t even quarter close to the length of MY own emails. They are necessary and I’d say read them all!
    Refreshing! Passionate! Steady! Beautiful read!

  • Semole Posted November 26, 2020 11:40

    I read this book in two sittings, in between all my other commitments. Sihle’s story is the story of many black professionals working in corporate SA, being undervalued and underpaid, being victimised because you dare stand for yourself.
    I didn’t like the long emails included in the book, and there are so many of them. Otherwise, a great read that will leave you feeling that you are not alone

  • Lorraine Posted November 26, 2020 11:39

    I gave “We Are The Ones We Need” all the stars because:

    1. Corporate South Africa drives you, black woman, to self-doubt and turns around and say “Big girls don’t cry” as if…
    2. I know (myself included) and interact with a lot of black women who’ve trodden the path that Sihle was on 4 years ago and their journey was 23 years ago, so go figure.
    3. It doesn’t transform with time.
    4. We know the enablers. They speak like us. Look like us.
    5. The toxicity of these environments is limitless. You’ll be left looking like a puddle.
    6. Speaking up comes with so many labels. We know them. We’ve been called them. Don’t these labels bother us no more…
    7. How are we supposed to “live our best lives” when we are fatigued into submission.
    8. Feminism is definitely NOT for everybody?

    I admire the ingenuousness in the attitude of the tone and the frankness in the speech. There were no sacred cows. The emails, (hope she is legally covered), the recalling of conversations, the whole nine yards. When you feel that your existence in a team is questioned, you automatically start collecting receipts.

    The writing is not great and could have done with editing and proofreading but, who gives five damns when the experience is narrated mind-blowingly like Sihle has done. The narration had a pulling effect and kept me turning the pages.

    This here is the reality and our lived experience. This is what and who our children will be battling with and against very soon. Something has to give. And soon…

  • Phathu Musitha Posted November 26, 2020 11:39

    A quick, triggering read. What a flipping necessary book!
    It details Sihle’s shocking and disturbing personal experience at one of SA’s big banks. She uses her experience to draw parallels and bring to attention many unspoken but common sufferings of Black people at the hands of those who dominate and control key structures within corporate SA, white people (ultimately).
    Whiteness is a well-maintained disease. Shu! Lengthly correspondence between her and the bank’s management is laid bare for all to see, though names have been changed. I’m conflicted about the inclusion of ALL those emails and texts. Some definitely helped move the narrative forward (pun unavoidable). Though I feel others may have been summarized and simply referred back to, in order to avoid some of the repetition in the book.
    Sihle shares her disappointment with complicit Black senior execs who didn’t flinch to improve her dire situation. The celebrated ‘first Blacks’ at the bank betrayed her and continue to betray US as a whole. And let’s not talk about HR. All these gatekeepers are enablers of note.
    There are numerous lessons in this book. One of them is, stop the secrecy around salaries! She explains how it’s a trick that only serves to protect the organisation and maintain the practice of underpaying Black people. Shameful. ??‍♀‍
    The book might not be the most poetic read, but it is written beautifully and with enough of an emotional tone to it.
    The conclusion is the hero of this book for me. It wraps up well the objective and attentively talks about the dirty politics of white corporate SA as widely suffered by Black people, and mostly Black women. And delves into how we can and should unite to change the status quo. Girl served truth and tea. ☕️
    This book is a one-woman protest, and a passionate reminder that corporate SA is decidedly anti-Black.
    They messed with the wrong one. Thank you, Sihle, for writing this book. ✊?

  • Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane Posted November 26, 2020 11:38

    The system is designed to convince you that your pain, your grievances and your experiences are all imagined.’ –Sihle Bolani
    This book starts an important conversation about the [non] futures and progress of Black people in corporate South Africa. Through Sihle’s lived experience we get to know about some of the horrors she endured for the sake of earning a living. My overwhelming feeling while reading and after is anger about the state of corporate South Africa. It is arguable that things have changed but how much have they really changed?

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