Solly, buti, what can I say. I can hardly believe it. Especially because I have not yet felt your absence around the camp. I have not yet arrived in the car park of tree camp on a winter’s morning and noticed that suddenly you are not there. I remember those mornings, you smiling and alert, always alert, rubbing zambuk on your lips. But those moments will come and I will grieve you then too. Like I grieve you now from Cape Town .
Man, we had some times together. We would go anywhere. Into deep bush with tracks of lionesses and their cubs all around on the dry earth. I always felt like with you everything was okay. You knew your craft so well. Your were so sharp. I had a game that I played in my own mind. Walking I would try and see things before you. You were miles ahead on points.
Solly I remember the day you came into a river to save me from a crocodile. It was such a big deal to me and it was just who you were. You never even talked to me about it much, only made jokes and told me I owed you a shirt because you had used yours to bandage my bleeding leg. This is just how you were, understated. You were just so damn brave by nature.
Everywhere you went you served people in your kind and openhearted way. I used to say you were pathologically helpful. But in serving, you always led. You taught, you guided, you reprimanded, and you entertained. You were a hero to so many, me in particular.
Solly we had our last few drives together just a few weeks ago. We tracked those lions on Old Dam Road. The whole Tracker Academy was walking around with not a clue. You grabbed a hold of that situation and gave a master class in following cats. We were wide eyed. You were like a hunting dog on those tracks, moving fast, all that vitality flowing out of you. You just committed to the impossible so easily and with such confidence. Forty minutes and we were sitting with the pride.
All over the world people are writing in. We cant believe it. Your hero status was international my friend. You became that hero through the sheer force of your heart, your humility and your simple care.
I believed that death could not touch a spirit like you. But it did. What are tracks like in heaven my friend? I bet it’s all soft sand. I will miss you but I will always feel you walking with me and ask for your thoughts as I pick my way through the quiet game paths and dry riverbeds. I will always listen the way you taught me to and when I find a leopard in the cool pink light of the evening, I will see you smiling that knowing smile from the back seat.
Written by: Boyd Varty
Solly- teacher, father and great great friend – you will never be forgotten
The Londolozi family