“Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them, they’re not just lying around on the surface. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves.” – Ken Robinson
As humans we receive the incredible gift of being born with a raw and unlimited imagination and a creative mind which is able to grow and blossom in any direction that our hearts desire.
However, in the crazy world we live in today, our routines and the constant need to be rational and realistic has led to the suppression of this precious trait. It’s important that we search for elements that ignite these creative parts of the brain, and for many, being in nature is the key that unlocks this.
There is something indescribable about spending quality time in the natural world. Whether it is watching the wind rustle through the leaves of the Leadwood forest, the rising chest of a satisfied, sleeping lion or the insignificant feeling of looking up at the Milky Way, these are the elements which have a beautiful and immeasurable effect on the mind.
Some of my favourite creative outlets are the ones that define the Londolozi experience, and the ones that we try and incorporate into our days at the Londolozi Cubs Den:
Storytelling is my favourite aspect of creativity that arises in people who have spent most of their lives surrounding themselves with the bush. My fondest childhood memories are of listening to Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories around a camp fire.
I am still able to imagine the elephant getting his peculiar trunk from being too curious (or you could say nosey) and managing to get his stubby nose pulled and stretched out by a crocodile; the intriguing spots of a leopard being painted on his coat by the fingers of the Ethiopian; and the rhino rubbing and rubbing his itchy, crumb-filled skin against a tree until he rubbed so hard he formed the wrinkles and folds in his skin you see today.
Recently we even had the Leopard-Spotted-Tooth-Fairy visit us to collect the tooth of a little girl staying in Founders Camp (if you’re lucky you might spot one of these on your next game drive)! There is a wonderful and magical story to be told surrounding everything in the bush and room for you to create a unique version.
Musician or not, the sound of the bush is music to the ears. The rhythm created by the croaking of frogs when the day comes to an end, the cry of an unseen fish eagle, the gushing river after the rains, the earth-shuddering roar of a lion and the crackling of the campfire all contribute to the music of the African bush. This natural inspiration recently led a family from Brazil to bring out their guitar around the fire one evening. The combination of different voices singing along to familiar songs, the strumming of strings and being situated under the clearest of skies, all made for a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience.
For many, creativity is simply in capturing beauty and exquisite scenes. It’s in the process of choosing your subject matter, adjusting your camera settings and finally placing your eye to the view finder that you open your mind to the art surrounding you. This process might include setting out at the crack of dawn with the intention of catching the first glimpse of light against the African horizon, or simply winding through the camp’s pathways and capturing the smaller more intricate beauties as we so often do at our Cubs Den.
The bush also inspires a need to document and share with the world the magic which you’ve witnessed. Many people visiting Londolozi write in their journals or blogs daily to try put into words not just what they have seen, but more importantly the experience and feeling evoked from being immersed in nature. Children visiting us often have dairies where they’re encouraged to jot down the types of the trees they climbed, or a description of their first encounter with a leopard.
The natural world has a way of encouraging people to create, and for many this is through imitation through one’s hands. This can be seen all around Londolozi, from the women beading unique jewellery in the village, to the incredible giraffe and rhino structures made by Simon Bannister.
Track moulding is a particularly popular activity at Cubs Den, with leopard and lion tracks being the favourite subjects. After a few minutes, beautiful moulds of unique prints are created and are the perfect expression of the bush to take home.
Simply put, spending time in nature inspires one to believe in more, create more and dream more. Ken Robinson said that creativity is as important as literacy, and when you find yourself in the powerful beauty of the African bush, I’m sure you’ll agree.