Innocent Ngwenya is one of the most remarkable humans I know. He is kind, gentle and driven. He smiles more than anyone I’ve ever met, nothing is too much effort for him and he is well-respected for his tracking genius. Just a few years ago though, Inno was living a very different life to the one he is now. Just a few years ago he was poaching the very same animals he now works so hard to track and protect. It is a time in his life he regrets hugely but his deep hunger to affect change in the world has driven him to share his powerful story. Not only is he a storyteller of the wilderness but a storyteller of wildness too.
For most of Innocent’s youth he was hungry. Truly hungry. As he describes it, he was driven to a hunger so fierce “it disturbs your brain and all you can think about is getting food”. Back then his father was not a part of his life. His parents separated when he was young, which is rare in the Shangaan culture and his grandmother asked his father to stay away from the family. Lyson, Innocent’s father, respected her wishes. So in an attempt to provide for both himself and his family, Innocent turned to poaching. It started out small but it slowly grew in scale and eventually he was poaching for money, not food.
In this mini-documentary, Innocent tells the story of how hunger was what eventually saved his life.
Innocent believed his father always knew he would come to find him and trusted that when the time was right, the two of them would be reunited. After 15 years, they eventually were. Because of his patience and his trust in life, Innocent was able to put the past behind him and the moment he re-connected with his father, the trajectory of his life changed dramatically. He is someone who sees the goodness in everything and as a result the goodness in everything has taken care of him.
From the remarkable search for his father, to his journey with the Tracker Academy, through tragically losing his father to a battle with cancer and then to eventually becoming one of the youngest Lead Trackers in the country, Innocent has always hungered for more. And even to this day, Innocent continues to track a more powerful presence in the world.
For me, the hunger I respect in him most though, is his hunger to tell this story. He is a man who deeply craves creating positive change around him and has therefore taken this brave step to share his past with you. Inno wants young people to grow up knowing what power and potential they have. He wants them to know that they have choices. And he wants them to know that with a deep hunger for a better life, they can become whatever it is that they choose.
He is a person who has not allowed circumstance to determine who he is or how his life has mapped out. He has tracked the feeling for an authentic and honest life and through that, he is mapping the landscape of the unknown for all those around him. In our opinion, he is one of the most beautiful examples of what it means to Live Guided… Witness how he has been able to shift his life from one of poverty to one of immense purpose and promise.