“Gees” is a difficult word to translate. It’s also a difficult word to say if you haven’t heard it before. The “G” isn’t the same sound as in “geese”, but is pronounced in a guttural, throaty kind of way. I am sadly unfamiliar with the phonetic symbols that would best represent it.
The word Gees comes from Afrikaans, and I think the closest English equivalent would be “Spirit”, as in the kind you want your sports team to have. But Spirit doesn’t quite cut the mustard as a comparison (I choose that expression with care).
Gees is an accolade. It’s a personality trait. It’s a broad-spectrum, multi-dimensional quality that has only positive connotations. You can have gees, you can be gees, and you can bring gees.
It’s a great word.
The Londolozi Ranger’s Room aspires to be a gees environment. Good banter and humour are the order of the day, and any kind of negativity is a big no-no.
That doesn’t mean negativity never enters, it just means that there are rules against it, and there are consequences for bringing negative vibes into what is meant to be a space of good energy.
To that end, the guiding team have developed a penalty system.
It is simply this:
This jar of Colman’s Hot English Mustard has pride of place on the shelf above the coffee station in the Ranger’s Room, and it watches broodily over all comings and goings. Most of the day it sits in peace; unused, unnoticed. But for 30 minutes before afternoon game drive the Mustard suddenly takes on a life of its own as a strict enforcer of team unity.
This is the sacred time of Coffee and Gees; a gathering of the Rangers team to discuss the day’s events, the latest sightings and everyone’s plans for the afternoon. Who will be driving where, who is looking for the Ntsevu pride, who thinks they can cross the river at Taylor’s Crossing after the floods (I tried and failed, and now wear the Pink Pouch as a result), and so on. It’s an important part of the 24-hour cycle in a guide’s life here.
Sometimes only five rangers are present, sometimes fourteen, but no matter who is around during this time, the iron-clad rules of C&G are strictly enforced:
As evidenced in the above photo, C&G is a No-Phone time.
With current trends for everyone to be sitting on social media during any free time, it would be all too easy for the Rangers to gather, each sit back with a cup of coffee in hand and troll their Instagram feeds with heads down, staring at screens. But this is not allowed.
Phones are not even to be seen! Even checking the time on your phone results in instant mustarding, and you have to ingest a fair-sized teaspoon of the stuff as punishment. Having your mobile device out when it is a time to be social with friends and colleagues is just not gees (is that word starting to make sense?).
I speak from experience when I say that the aftertaste of a solid spoon of Colman’s Hot English will last you right the way until dinner! Negativity of any sort during C&G will also meet with similar retribution. And those present make sure that a liberal helping is administered.
It is a beautiful self-developed, self-policed system.
It’s all in good fun, and everyone respects the rules. They are there to encourage dialogue and good communication within the team. No one is exempt. Non-rangers entering the room with their phones out during this period are also unlikely to make the same mistake again. Anyone is more than welcome to step outside during those 30 minutes to check a message or make a call, but once you cross that threshold back into the Ranger’s Room, you immediately fall under the sway of the Mustard.
So if you happen to be on afternoon game drive at Londolozi and notice your ranger with a pained expression on his/her face, looking like they’ve swallowed something distasteful, it’s a safe bet that they were just a fraction slow in pocketing their phone as the gong for Coffee and Gees sounded.
Probably best to offer them a sip of water…