Animals: They were here first
Ubuntu, “I am, because of you”
Boyd Varty grew up on the Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. His family has been in the safari business for four generations. Boyd knows about the value of preserving the land, the people and the animals. As a child, he was privileged to have been in the company of Nelson Mandela who stayed with his family right after his release from twenty-seven years in prison. Boyd got to take him breakfast in bed, walk around the gardens, and listen to Mandela’s wisdom during family dinners. Here’s an excerpt from Boyd’s T.E.D. talk about his time with Mandela:
He was bringing peace to a divided and violent South Africa, one man with an unbelievable sense of his humanity. Mandela said often that the gift of prison was the ability to go within and to think, to create in himself the things he most wanted for South Africa: peace, reconciliation, harmony. Through this act of immense open-heartedness, he was to become the embodiment of what in South Africa we call "ubuntu" - I am, because of you. Or, people are not people without other people. It's not a new idea or value but it's one that I certainly think at these times is worth building on. In fact, it is said that in the collective consciousness of Africa, we get to experience the deepest parts of our own humanity through our interactions with others.
Boyd then spoke of his experiences in the wild. I really liked hearing about the elephants and his firsthand accounts of observing how the elephants care for one another. I love how elephants give us lessons in humanity. Boyd also tells of a harrowing experience of nearly getting eaten by a crocodile. It was a lesson in steering clear of those animals intent on having us for lunch!
Here are Boyd’s closing remarks from his T.E.D. talk:
I believe that in the cathedral of the wild, we get to see the most beautiful parts of ourselves reflected back at us. And it is not only through other people that we get to experience our humanity but through all the creatures that live on this planet. If Africa has a gift to share, it's a gift of a more collective society. And while it's true that ubuntu is an African idea, what I see is the essence of that value being invented here.
It is well worth your time to listen to Boyd Varty tell his story, “What I learned from Nelson Mandela.”
If you’re feeling adventurous and yearn for a trip to Africa, check out Boyd’s place, The Londolozi Game Reserve. The root of the word Londolozi is the Zulu word for protect and means “protector of all living things” – an ambitious conservation ethic that Londolozi embraces in its sensitivity to the natural world. The reserve is internationally recognised for its far-sighted and progressive management of land and wildlife rehabilitation as well as productive community involvement.