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Why caring leaders are important to the growth of an organisation

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

I first heard about Mr. Mteto Nyati's 'Betting on a Darkie' during a conversation with Amina in Durban. I do not particularly remember how we ended up talking about Mr. Mteto Nyati and his book. However, Amina thought the book was good and continued to recommend it to me.

On my return to Joburg, I went to my local bookshops to get a copy and with little luck. My Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) rushed through my brain, and my dopamine levels hit sky high!

I was about to get a digital copy from Kindle when I received an invite from the Black Management Forum (BMF) Sandton branch on a planned book launch scheduled for 7 November 2020. The stars have aligned.

I was disadvantaged when going to the book launch because I had very little knowledge of the actual content and background of Mr. Mteto Nyati. However, I felt that Mr. Mteto Nyati and the facilitator of the day did a great job articulating the book's critical content.

Book summary

'Betting on a Darkie' is a nonfiction book that tells the career progression of Mr. Mteto Nyati.

The book starts with a foreword by President Thabo Mbeki, where he recalls his interactions with Mr. Mteto Nyati and how he got about to agree to write the foreword.

Thirteen chapters follow the foreword. The first twelve chapters gradually build the context towards the book title - 'Betting on a Darkie.'

The book highlights Mr. Mteto Nyati's humble beginnings and tells a story of his progressing experience from being a junior mechanical engineer at Afrox to being the Group Chief Executive at Altron.

The book captures Mr. Mteto Nyati's gradual rise into crucial leadership roles such as being the:

  • Managing Director at Microsoft SA,

  • Chief Executive Officer at MTN SA, and

  • Group Chief Executive at Altron.

The primary theme of the book is about perseverance & being a leader with principles.

And the secondary book theme is about appreciating the impact that leaders have when providing opportunities to their subordinates or juniors. Mr. Mteto Nyati captures the secondary them well when he wrote:

Early on in my career, I learned from mentors such as Mpho Letlape and Neil Greenfield, who took a bet on a darkie when nobody else would. More than 30 years later, I still have mentors.

My review

I enjoyed this book because I related to a lot of the content and author. For example, I am a mechanical engineer, and Mr. Mteto Nyati is a mechanical engineer. I dream of helping South Africa & South Africans reach their highest potential, and Mr. Mteto Nyati believes in betting on others.

It was tempting to think that Mr. Mteto Nyati wrote the book for "Darkies." In South Africa, Darkie is a colloquial word for the indigenous black South Africans. However, I found that the book is more than propagating the stereotypical views of the common Darkie.

But I must confess, I benefited from attending the book launch, and one of the questions asked was an explanation of the book title. The long and short, the answer was that it is to sell books.

I think the foreword from President Thabo Mbeki gave an excellent introduction to the theme of the book.

I think the buildup to the last chapter could be a challenge for the untrained or impatient reader who wants to know what 'Betting on a Darkie' means. However, I enjoyed how the book gradually built towards its theme.

I also enjoyed how it used storytelling to teach some of the fundamental characteristics of thought leadership - lead with principles, lift as you rise, and people matter.

Learn more about the book and Mr. Mteto Nyati:

Book rating: 5/5


The article was first published on 23 May 2020,


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