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UMSAMO: The New African Business Literacy
Dr V Mkhize
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Umsamo is not merely a social or managerial philosophy, but also an explicit structure and process for managers and organisations if not also for politicians and social activists. Umsamois a special and sacred place inside a traditional Zulu hut that is simultaneously an altar and a repository (ithala) of a family’s precious items. Umsamo is also a physical manifestation of the interconnectedness and special bond that exists between the living and the dead. The Zulu hut whereumsamo is normally found, is part of isibaya (the kraal). Umsamo is seen as a tool for shared direction, purpose and value, productive relationships and performance excellence which goes beyond that of ubuntu-for-the-twenty-ﬁrst-century companies. The potential that this book offers, through the concept of umsamothat underpins it, is to transcend philosophy and value to provide an overarching structure and process, which will form the basis for a subsequent institutionalisation of African management. It is a philosophy that emphasises the meaningful engagement of employees, using each person’s strengths to achieve optimal performance and business effectiveness. Umsamoemphasises meaning, and creates a sense of family cohesion within the organisation. It seeks to enhance the collective buy-in of employees from an empowered and motivated mindset, and to engender a genuine sense that their input matters. It is about underlining a gender-sensitive leadership style in which both the male (umnumzane) and female (umama), the pillars of the family, share responsibility and lead from a position of equality and mutual respect. In the twenty-ﬁrst century we are all global traders, which creates rich opportunities for growth and success. In order to capitalise on these opportunities, however, we must rely more on our own indigenous knowledge and expertise. The global village needs to learn from us, just as we also need to learn from them on a daily basis. We must sell them our “exclusive values”,which are guaranteed to inspire them to invest in our country.
Dr. Velaphi Victor Ka Luphuzi (VVO) Mkhize – poet, academic and organic intellectual, businessman, spiritual advisor and entrepreneur was an associate professor at CIDA City Campus when writing this book. He is also the founder and president of Umsamo African Institute and the chairman/CEO of Ichibi Lomnotho Investments Holdings.