Londolozi has always taken much pride in its family values and its involvement with the surrounding communities. The hard work put in by the early pioneers and founders was passed down to future generations, who remain at Londolozi today. The Sithole family is one of these families and have been proud and loyal employees of Londolozi since it first began. Today, many proud holders of the Sithole name remain.
Two-tone Sithole was the first of the family to work at Londolozi during the pioneering years. Two-tone was one of Londolozi’s earliest trackers and worked hand-in-hand with the infamous Winnis Mathebula. They were known for their courage and uncanny ability to read all of the signs of the wilderness and there is not a single tracker at Londolozi today who has not heard of Two-tone Sithole.
Two-tone’s nephew, Spook Sithole, joined Londolozi in the 1940s as the camp cook and stayed here until his retirement. Cry Sithole, Spook’s son, tells the story of when his mom and dad went fishing. “This is my favourite story about my dad”, says Cry, while he chuckles under his breath. Many years ago, before Cry’s birth, Spook had some free time during the middle of the day and decided to go fishing down at the Sand River. Spook had caught many fish at a secret, favourite spot. On this day, he had decided to take his wife along to partake in the day’s fishing. To get to the spot, the two had to cautiously cross over a few boulders that were above the water to get up onto the northern bank of the Sand River, where there was good shade and deeper pools. Spook surveyed the water up ahead, looking for a series of boulders that he and his wife could safely step across. Spook went first, stepping from the first boulder and onto the second. Before he knew it, the second boulder had started to move as a rather irate hippo bull popped its head up only to find a shocked Spook Sithole standing on its back. Spook immediately jumped off the hippo’s back and scrambled back to shore as the hippo thrashed around in the water trying to buck off its intruder. Spook grabbed his wife by the arm and the two climbed up to the safety of the riverbank. Needless to say, there was no fishing that day. At the time of writing, Spook is now 82 years old and only a few months ago I saw him walking with his cane as he went for one of his first trips to the optometrist, a testimony to his resilience.
Cry then proceeded to tell me his story. Based on his ability to keep majority of the village awake at night, Keys Mathebula affectionately gave the newborn Cry Sithole his name in 1977, and it has stuck ever since. To his father’s excitement, Cry joined Londolozi in 2000 and began working in the gardens, which he maintained immaculately until a year later, when he moved into camps to become a butler. There he became known for making the best cappuccinos in the morning and cocktails in the evening. Cry continues to tell a story of a curious baboon that took a swig of sherry that he had decanted to welcome his guests home from game drive with. “He sat up in a tree and barked the whole night”, says Cry. Cry’s hardworking nature and willingness to succeed led him on to become the camp manager of Founders Camp, where you will find him today. And if you don’t find him there, you will find him on the soccer pitch. Cry is arguably the best striker at Londolozi and is lightning quick. In fact, at the annual Christmas soccer match, where the Londolozi rangers and camp managers take on Londolozi’s own soccer team – the Londolozi Leopards, cry is one of the few that ensures us a fighting chance.
The Sithole name lives on at Londolozi in all departments, Mike Sithole follows in his grandfather Two-tone’s footsteps and is a tracker well known for being able to spot a leopard in a thicket from miles away. Elmon Sithole works as a chef at Varty camp, a position he has held for 30 years and carries with him what he learned from his uncle Spook. Together with many other families at Londolozi, the Sitholes continue the work of there forefathers and will hopefully pass what they know onto the future Sitholes to come.