French business students have been learning about how ancient African cultural practices and wisdom can benefit them in the boardroom, thanks to the efforts of a Rondebosch academic.
Earl-Djehuti Erasmus, 49, a lecturer at the non-profit Tsiba business school in Ndabeni, visited the Audencia Business School in Nantes, France, last November with Tsiba registrar Musa Gcilitchana, as part of a collaboration between the two business schools.
During the visit, Mr Erasmus gave a guest lecture about how indigenous African philosophy and cultural practices can benefit business in other parts of the world.
“More so if we look at depths of nature and how nature speaks through us like how we take care of the Earth and how we take care of each other,” said Mr Erasmus, stressing the importance of building personal relationships to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
As part of the partnership with Audencia Business School, he had been lecturing online to the French students for five months leading up to his visit and in-person lecture.
The French business school provides some financial assistance to Tsiba students, and later this year, 15 Audencia students will visit Cape Town to spend time at Tsiba as part of their Master’s programme.
Mr Erasmus said the students he had lectured during his visit came from various countries and they had been interested in his family’s !Xam/Khwe roots.
“The !Xam/Khwe means those that were born from the Sun,” he said, adding that he was born in the Inqua region in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.
Professor Laurent Noel, from the Audencia Business School, said Mr Erasmus’s expertise was of great benefit to the students.
“The Africa course is at the crossroad of the two purposes, culture and nature, and Mr Erasmus and Ms Gcilitchana’s interventions were a great success and added value for those who follow the course and the conference.”
Mr Erasmus is also a coordinator for the Bryant Educational Leadership Group (BELG), which is an American-based organisation that works towards building the next generation of African American leaders, and last month, he attended a BELG conference in Washington DC.
“The questions asked at the conference amongst different advisers was how to improve networks so that we can improve the relationships between African people and different minorities across the world?” he said.
Mr Erasmus said he had had a “crazy” dream from a young age that he would tell his story to the world.
“I never knew this would happen. I am really honoured that Tsiba has this confidence in me, and I am grateful to build relationships with international organisations.”