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Celebration of Excellence

November 2010

In the Financial Mail of 1 October 2010, there was an article titled “Success, given the chance”. It tells the story of Ayanda Bam, one of the founders of Kuyasa Mining, possibly the oldest black-owned colliery in South Africa. Initially they had plans to be a 12 Mt/year coal producer. They had no funds to start off with and no bank would lend them money. Eventually they found a contractor with a work force who needed work. It was agreed that the contractor would mine on Kuyasa’s behalf in return for income from coal sales. For the first 18 months the owners of Kuyasa earned no money. They now produce 3 Mt/year and have survived the downturn and have plans to build a 600 MW coal-fired power station.

The quotes from Ayanda Bam are very pertinent and relevant to our country today:

“We weren’t troubled [that we weren’t earning anything]. We understood it was our first project and that we weren’t doing it because we wanted to be rich, but because we wanted to be in mining.”

“I think we want black people to be a factor in the economy, and that means they must be operators. Being a shareholder is not enough. Owning 1% of a company gives you no power.”

“The idea that someone owes you is a disease that holds black people back, even today. No-one owes us anything, but we want equal opportunities. Black people can succeed like anyone else, given the same opportunities.”