More about me
The elements of nature have birthed me, and I am one with them. I breathe the same air as the lion roaring for the moonrise, I breathe the same air as the dung beetle foraging underfoot.
WHEN I was a child, I wept for the sunset, for the beauty of the fish darting in our streams, for a tree that was hewed down for firewood. I grew up in a rural village on the doorstep of the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi reserve. Because my father worked in the reserve looking after horses, I was able to spend my school holidays there. Being in that wilderness filled me with a passion - not only to conserve the beauty around me, but also to help others experience it. Most of my fellow villagers never had a chance to set foot in the reserve. I grew up resolved to change this.
My hopes of studying nature conservation at university were dashed by lack of funds. I did voluntary work in the reserve for three years, before being taken on as a trainee guide by the Wilderness Leadership School. After my training and internship, I worked as a trails officer in the reserve for several years, before leaving to pursue my dream and vision through creating my own company, Umkhiwane Sacred Pathways. Since then, I have worked with people all over the world, and have travelled extensively in Germany and Austria giving seminars on the wisdom of nature and what it can teach us about ubuntu and how to be human.
My mission is to go beyond a superficial tourist safari experience of wildlife; to draw on my indigenous wisdom and knowledge of the bush to enable people to have a deep, transformative experience in nature; to walk with reverence, attention and humility on the sacred pathways of the wilderness. Equally important to me is to bring the benefits of wilderness and nature to my community, which continues to battle with poverty and lack of opportunity.
Walking in the wilderness has enriched my life beyond the telling of it. Every encounter with wild creatures has brought symbolic messages to me; has brought me teachings that I could never find in a textbook. It has been my life’s path to rekindle the wildness in all of us; to bring people into the presence of wildness, and help open their souls to its beauty, wisdom, and infinite power to heal. I believe awakening our souls to the healing power and wisdom of nature will help us reknit our broken relationship with the natural world and with each other, and help us repair the devastating consequences climate change, pollution, environmental destruction, and social injustice.
About Umkhiwane Sacred Pathways
Be as the giving tree...
The umkhiwane tree, Ficus Sycamores, can rightly be called the giving tree.
Its plentiful fruits feed birds, bats, elephant, giraffe, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, impala, grey duiker, bushpigs, warthogs, baboons, monkeys and bushbabies. In former days, Zulu communities dried the fruits during times of drought, before grinding them into a powder which could be mixed with water to eat as a porridge. The bark and fruit are used medicinally.
The wood has been used as a base block to create fire through rubbing sticks, and to make drums; rope can be made from its bark. Even when their lives are over, these trees continue to give of themselves – their rotting and hollow trunks provide homes and nutrients for many creatures years after the tree has died
This is the vision for my company – to be as the umkhiwane tree, to grow strong, wide and tall, and to give, and to give, and to give – to the community and to all who walk with me in the wilderness. A flourishing tree that will inspire people to heal the wounds we humans have inflicted on each other and on the natural world.
I formed the company in 2014, after leaving Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife. The company is dedicated to providing meaningful wilderness experiences, for tourists but also for my local community members who historically have been excluded from the game reserves. Through the generosity of those doing trails with me, I have also been able to invest in my community with building a preschool and creating vegetable gardens. Seeing people from Europe working side by side with them to make their lives better has helped to heal the historical wounds of racism and colonialism in my village.