Olwam Mnqwazi is an author and the Managing Director of the Black Hat Group, an innovative research and leadership development agency based in Nelson Mandela Bay. He is the founder and chairperson of the Fruits of Democracy, an NPO critiquing the democratic dispensation, recognising youth excellence and organising public engagements in the Eastern Cape.
Mnqwazi holds a BA degree, majoring in Public Administration and Industrial & Organisational Psychology and a BA Honours in Development Studies, both from Nelson Mandela University. Currently, he is busy with a Masters in Development Studies with the University of South Africa. Mnqwazi enjoys a wide range of accolades ranging from the 2019 Avance Media’s 100 Most Influential Young South Africans in Leadership & Civil Society to the 2015 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans, to name a few.
Describe yourself in two sentences.
A father, a husband, and an author. I currently serve in the Governance portfolio on Safrea’s Exco, a role that I am embracing and starting to enjoy.
Please tell us more about what you do and how long you’ve been a freelancer.
I left the formal employment of the Nelson Mandela University in August 2016 and started my freelancing journey in October 2016. Instead of working under my name, I registered my company, Black Hat, to build systems that enabled more people to assist me with what we did: Transcriptions, data collections, language editing, project management, corporate elections, constitution reviews and profiles for SMMEs and other freelancers.
Recently, I launched my second book and spent most of the past 3 months working on raising funds and planning the launch. More information about the book and the launch here: https://www.black-hat.co.za/post/media-release_leadership-an-insignia-more-enduring
I’d like to spend as much time as possible reading and writing about leadership, as my interest, and how we understand it as Xhosa people. This means that I have to study further and master this question.
What does a day in your life look like?
As of September 2022, I have started to work at Nelson Mandela University on contract, a much-appreciated job which helps me to reconnect with the academic community as I need to upgrade my skillset on leadership development. In my current role I work at the Online Education unit with the Faculty of Education and the Learning and Teaching Collaborative (LT Collab) to put some courses online for a broader reach. I am also managing a few transcriptions for our PhD clients and finalising a few reports for my clients.
Where/how do you find inspiration?
From all the challenges that our society faces. I am also inspired by my generation who work hard to change their lives. I find motivation when I also see what we have achieved in the past and wish to see what else we can possibly achieve if we put our mind and effort to it.
What advice do you have for other freelancers?
Sometimes you need to bank on your name and call the price. Playing small does not serve us.
How long have you been a Safrean, and why are you a member of Safrea?
It’s been over two years. I needed a community of practice and appreciated the annual rate report. I also started to attend local events which I thought were great.
What is your work/life motto?
Life is a gift. Living life is the actual gift from life.