“Have you got five minutes to chat?” said James.
“I do” said Duncs. “What about?”
“About what” corrected James with a smirk.
“Would you like to talk or not?” responded Duncs abruptly.
“Yes please. And to answer your question, the subject is “future plans” said James.
This was a conversation I had been dreading, but one that I knew we would eventually have to have. So “have it” we did and the sad reality was that – despite my best articulated protests – James had decided that his journey at Londolozi was to come to a close.
“How long do we have?” said Duncs after accepting defeat.
“I’m thinking about leaving at some point in the next 12 months” said James.
“I see”, said Duncs. “So….. as vague as ever?”
“This time that was a good thing”, I thought to myself.
Several months have passed since that conversation, but now that time has come, and it’s a tough ask to adequately acknowledge James’ influence on Londolozi over the last decade. An incredible ranger, articulate writer or a knock-out camera man just doesn’t seem to do him justice given the broad and varied contribution James has made during his time here. But broad and varied it has been and perhaps it is this that is the most valuable element of the legacy he leaves behind.
At Londolozi we’ve always believed in multiple portfolios. For example, Kim Drake manages a large procurement department by day, but in the evenings she’s no stranger to decapitating delicious bottles of champagne with a machete – “sabrage” apparently? Pat Grealy is one of our latest recruits to the guiding team, but if you close your eyes around a boma fire you’ll feel like Elton John has come to stay. Formally, William Ford is one of our Operations Managers, but if you need a partner in the gym, or in the freeze pool, or in the bar…… we can probably just leave it at partner, then he’s your man. And Jess MacLarty is equally at home in a food garden as she is in the learning centre, children’s creche or assisting Chris Goodman with a borehole pump.
The list goes on and these are but a few examples, but James certainly owns the proverbial yellow jersey in this department when I think about the many areas of our business in which he has been so valuable.
Eloquent, knowledgeable, smart, determined, passionate, athletic, musical, competitive, witty, fun and moderately good looking (assuming he’s got on a hat of some sort) are just some of the character traits to which we will be bidding farewell. Whilst stellar guitarist, raconteur, mentor, extraordinary safari guide, and dynamic camera man are some of the roles he’s played – all of which will be sorely missed.
James’ list of specific accomplishments in his 10 year innings are numerous to say the least, and while it may be embarrassing (for him) for me to list them, I feel that it would be remiss of me not to:
- Safari Guide of the year – 2018
- 921 blogs
- Several thousand edits (3650 blogs)
- 2560 blog photos
- Approximately 80 Londolozi videos
- Instrumental player in achieving Londolozi’s Instagram family
- Household celebrity to any family who followed Londolozi during the global lockdown!
- Incredible mentor to young guides beginning their careers at Londolozi
These of course are some of his not-insignificant professional highlights, but it’s in the reminiscing over the intangible moments in-between all of that which really puts the lump in my throat and what I sense he (and all of us at Londolozi) will miss the most.
I’ve always felt that Londolozi is poetic by nature. The place has a rhythm and a feeling and a sense of soul. And while I don’t profess to be much of a poet myself, I thought it appropriate – in honour of James – to do my best to capture a sense of these intangible moments in poem – the moments that have danced alongside him since his arrival in 2011.
So here goes….
So it is with a heavy heart and a tear in our eye that we bid one of Londolozi’s Greats farewell. And make no mistake James Tyrrell sets off as one of Londolozi’s Greats. His contribution has been immense, his attitude superb, but his passion for this place and all that it stands for, is the piece for which we are most grateful.
So to our friend: on behalf of the Londolozi family we wish you everything of the best and so look forward to watching you succeed as you embark on your next adventure.
Famba kahle hi khensile ngopfu.
Luckily for us, we have all of James’ videos and images as a constant reminder of his time here with us. As we approach our 500th TWIP series, we take a look at the 400th video and reflect on some of James’ incredible video and photography skills.
Late night laughter around a fire,
Song and dance under a starlit sky
Winter running – fast of course – on a dusty track so dry.
Coffee and Gees, character weeks,
Walking the perimeter once upon a time
Cubs, birds, banter, darts, silence and a night chorus full of rhyme.
David Kramer, Theatre in the Boma and forgetting the words to a song,
Getting stuck, getting out
The pink pouch is never wrong.
Sunrise, an engine at dawn, coffee on the breeze,
Crisp mornings, cool evenings
Grass seeds that make you wheeze.
Sweltering summers, cicads, crickets,
And frogs – that deafening buzz at night.
Rain and wind then breathless calm
Picking the track that’s right.
Hard work, tight deadlines, singing in the storm
Breakfast club, flip flops to work
And chillies with a roar.
Big words, the correct word, grammatically correct,
Scrabble, scramble, and baby bumbles
Mums with kids around their necks.
Skukuza half, Madagascar
Training for months on end.
Time in the bush, time with yourself
That’s the real joy in the end.
The Village, the Spaza, a qualifying drive,
That feeling you can’t explain
Long walks, assessment drives and a culture of no complaints.
Late nights, slow starts, memory sticks left at home,
The wrong lens, “missed the shot”
a litany of woes.
But tomorrow brings another day
A chance to make amends
Adversity + time = humour
Such is life with friends.
Good friends, best friends, girlfriends in-between
A witty chirp, a practical joke
Contentment – seemingly an endless stream
A place called home, a home in the bush
If only for a while,
Now its time for that invisible thread
Connection for the rest of time.