Recently the simple act of turning on my radio showed that Aristotle and Ubuntu are alive at Londolozi.

“Christina Life, come in, Christina”. (I am Christina. Life is my department.)

Radio silence…

Duncan, our General Manager’s commanding voice rings out again.

“Christina Life, come in, Christina”.

Continued radio silence…

My radio is turned off. The way I like that intrusive, large Nokia-circa-1990-lookalike to be.

My lovely neighbour and artist-in-residence, Roxy, flings open my door, “Duncan is radioing you!” Roxy is a gentle, creative presence who has that wonderful quality of using her words sparingly but effectively. She can draw a picture with your words and beautifully summarize and interpret what you are trying to say.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, Roxy, Portrait

Roxy Burrough, Londolozi’s Graphic Designer. She is a blossoming talent and a peaceful presence at Londolozi.

I start to make my way to the top office via the treatment room, backtracking slightly. I pass Victor from stores. “Duncan is radioing you,” he informs me with a friendly smile. I check my phone while I’m walking up and find two voice notes from caring colleagues encouraging me to turn on my radio because I am being called. It is one of the things that I love about this place. If someone misses a cue, they are likely to bump into at least a dozen people who will let them know what needs to be conveyed.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, Victor, Portrait

Victor Ngwenya, Londolozi Stores Assistant. No matter where or when you see Victor, he always has a warm smile to offer.

Here, staff operate with radios to communicate. Much of the information conveyed on our radios is mundane and not particularly riveting but there are tiny pieces of vital information that make sure that we are where we need to be so that every guest’s need is seen to and anticipated with seemingly minimal effort. So if one of us is switched off, it can have a chain effect that can cause a ball to be dropped somewhere down the line.

On my way, I pass by July. He is one of a few of the caretakers at Varty Camp. He is busy at work between the Sparta rondavels, using his trusty self-made broom. His methodical care in sweeping these spaces transforms the area in a subtle yet very noticeable way.  He prefers the traditional way of using the branches and leaves of a guarrie tree, gathered together to sweep the pathways. He is one of the sometimes-unseen members of the Londolozi family whose life story is intricately woven into the history of this wondrous place.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, July, Portrait

July Baloyi, Varty Camp Caretaker. One of the highlights of my day is seeing this man on my way to the treatment room each day as he so carefully tends to the camp.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, July, sweeping

July Baloyi sweeps the Varty Camp grounds with his homemade broom of guarie branches and leaves. Every morning July can be seen lovingly sweeping the camps, beautifying the area in sometimes overlooked ways.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, Lina, Portrait

Lina Lamula, a Londolozi elder and village mother. Lina’s impact at Londolozi stretches far and wide.

I spot Mama Lina, a Shangaan elder, on the pathway. She is a short, round lady with a quick wit. If you have been on a village walk here, you would most likely have met this remarkable woman who still sleeps in one of the traditional huts in the village. She is a shrewd card player and quite the philosophical soul, as well as a skilled dancer and drummer. She asks me how the weather is today; an exchange we have had for a while now. It is our way of asking how the other’s day is going. She gives me a quizzical look and an all-encompassing hug (if ever you need a good hug, ask Lina or Will Ford, our Operations Manager, they are equally adept in the art of comfort). I explain that the weather is great but with chances of clouds, depending on the next meeting’s outcome. Nora comes around the corner with her wide smile. Nora, one of Varty’s Housekeepers, is the mother of Victor in stores and Aaron in Bush Banqueting. They have both inherited their mother’s warm smile. She is also a Sangoma – a traditional healer – and has a quiet, commanding presence. She asks me how many mats will be needed for the yoga deck and I say eight as an optimistic guess. Nora’s English is broken but her understanding is complete and she is more sussed than most.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, Nora, Portrait, staff

Nora Ubisi, one of Varty Camp Housekeepers. Nora has worked here for many years and was later joined by two of her sons. One of the beautiful aspects of Londolozi is that it is a family run business that values providing employment to families.

 

By now I’m almost at top office and Cranky shouts to me, “Answer your radio, Vader”. Rob Crankshaw, aka ‘Cranky’, has recently taken to calling me Vader. I have been christened this by Cranky based on the sound I make on the radio when I end a transmission; breathing out I apparently sound something akin to the Star Wars bad guy.

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, Rob, Portrait

Rob Crankshaw, part of the Land Care and Technical Services Teams. Cranky is well-known for his photographic skills and enthusiasm for all things creepy and crawly and can be found birding around camp when not keeping the runnings of the lodge going smoothly.  

And now I get to my point. All these seemingly random interactions and moments showed me something significant about life and community.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This quote by Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, spoke of holism.

The idea that the total effectiveness of a group of things, each interacting with one another, is different to or greater than their effectiveness when acting in isolation from one another. Examples of it can be seen all around us here at Londolozi whether it be in the wilderness, with the animals or in the community. To my African sensibilities, it echoes something of Ubuntu. Not the computer operating system but a Nguni Bantu term, loosely meaning humanity. It is often also translated as humanity towards others.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu explained it as such:

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

Nelson Mandela described it with more emphasis on compassion and generosity saying, “A traveler through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?”

Londolozi, Kruger National Park, ubuntu, village, gathering, circle

The Londolozi family gathering together to pay respects to the Ngobeni and More families, who tragically lost loved ones a few months ago. Ubuntu is very much alive and well at Londolozi.

I am one of the small peripheral parts that make up the magical whole that is Londolozi. Together, all the individuals, with each of their unique quirks, make up a very real community. Here I feel valued, known and deeply cared for and that is the alchemy of a place like this.

Even though you may not always feel it, the part you play in whatever avenue of life you find yourself is vital to a greater whole. Be it in your family, your business or your friendships. So keep showing up and be fully present; the effect of your presence is felt.

That said, best I turn my radio on.

“Go ahead for Christina”.

Filed under Life

About the Author

Christina Fox

Contributor

Christina comes to us from Cape Town. She is passionate about massage and touch therapy. After having worked for Five Star Spa’s in London and Cape Town she took the leap to work independently to focus on the more therapeutic and holistic healing ...

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3 Comments

on Aristotle and Ubuntu Are Alive at Londolozi

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Judith Guffey

I have truly loved Freddy Ngobeni since I first met him in 2010 when he was tracking for Mike Miller. Such a quiet, gentle man. I don’t know which of his family members he lost recently, but I hope someone in the ohana will give him a personal hug from me. I’ll do that myself in December.

Chris Goodman

I love this!

Denise Vouri

You write beautifully Christina. I sense your connection to the “village ” that makes Londolozi as special as it is. How fortunate you are to be a part of their family. I know about shutting off communication devices just for some quiet time but when you’re part of a chain, there can’t be a broken link. The rest of the links need that one to keep together and remain strong.

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