An obvious question that many people will ask is: “Why is a white, English born man of Irish ancestry so interested in Africa?” A good question and it is important that this be clarified.
It is a mistake to consider me as a European, notwithstanding my heritage. 46 years ago my parents chose to come to South Africa and settle here because of the beauty of this land and the opportunities that it offered. I have lived here all these years and this hasn’t changed, if anything it has grown stronger. Whilst I regard my heritage with pride the following quotation from Nkwame Nkrumah encapsulates exactly my feelings:
'I am an African, not because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me.'
I have lived pretty much all of my life in South Africa and this is my home. The country, the bush and its animals are a part of my life and the above quotation says it all – Africa is in me. I not only associate with the country but with its people and the myriad of their languages as well.
My business card, which I prefer to call my “person” card since it reflects more who I am and what I do rather than my business, has the name “UBUHLOBO” which in Xhosa and Zulu means “friendly.” This I have combined with Chinese symbol for “relationships” called “Guanxi” (pronounced wanshee) which is on the other side of the card. The point being to depict the African in me flowing in a yin yang manner between being friendly thus creating relationships and vice versa.
Another question that will be asked is: “Why elephants?”
When I see elephants and I look into their eyes and see the deep, knowing, and sad intelligence there I get the feeling that these mighty animals are like observers sent by the Universe, to take note of how we humans treat this incredible planet upon which we live, and everything else that exists beside us.
Their eyes reflect the conscience of the world at what we have done – who can stand quietly and peacefully and look even for the shortest length of time into their eyes without feeling a deep sorrow at what we have done to the planet and to them.
I want to help the human race to say sorry to them and to start to repair the damage that we have done. I want to help more of them to live – open up the migration corridors and let them roam freely; restore the water to their natural watering holes. Gain their trust so that once again man and elephant can live side by side in peace and harmony.
I do not expect people to join me in this quest and to feel for and support elephants as I do. But I hope that in seeing what I, and many other people before me, am doing many eyes will be opened. And then people will start to find more and more stories of the wonderful people in this world who are dedicating themselves to helping others and the planet, such as this amazing trio of South Africans – Braam Malherbe, Lewis Gordon Pugh, and Patricia Glyn.
And this will launch activities far and wide across the world, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be. And slowly but surely, with gathering momentum, people will change and the world will change and across the Universe the little man from the book “Gulliver’s Travels” will be able to wander down the street again in the dead of the night and call: “twelve o’clock and all’s well!!”