I’ve been going on safaris since 1995 when I saw my first zebra while hitchhiking from South Africa to Zimbabwe. Last week I wrote about the first five of ten lessons I’ve learned from safari guide and dear friend Jackson Looseyia and his magical Tangulia Mara Camp. (I got to know Jackson when I first watched him translate for a BBC film crew filming Dorobo men taking fresh kill from lions (yes really). This week I’m ready with the second set of five lessons from my Maasai friend.
I encouraged you to lead our world into a healthier place by putting into action the first five lessons from Jackson: respect, watching flr cycles, being prepared and patient, stopping frequently and being alert for signals.
This week, following up on part one, and in continued honour of World Humanitarian Day, I continue with part two.
Here are the second set of five lessons to be learned from my Maasai friend. These life lessons from Jacson can bring increasing meaning to our lives.
1. Soak up learning
Before he created his own camp, Jackson was booked out three years ahead of time, by other camps requesting his guiding services. Yes he’s that good. He guides for BBC crews with massive cameras and loooong lenses. Being the smart human that he is, he’s picked up a thing or three about photography.
On one safari we were close to a pride of lions and the big male, Blackie (Jackson knows all the lions, their lineage, personalities and names) was among the group. After watching them intently, Jackson asked me to back up and drive away from the lions. Curious, I did what he asked, as I asked why.
“Blackie is going to get up in about five minutes and walk towards that tree. This way you’ll be facing him when he does that and it’s a great opportunity for some good shots. Make sure you wait until his paw is in the air to take the shot, as it looks much better, suggesting action.”
From that moment on, when Blackie did exactly what Jackson predicted, we started calling Jackson the lion whisperer.
Oh and I did get this shot of Blackie, paw in the air.
The opportunities to learn are all around us. Soak them up frequently, deliberately and deliciously.
On one of our first safaris together, when I was just starting to realize how lucky I was to not only have an incredible safari guide and friend, but also an semi-professional photographer to boot, I was yearning to compare pictures of the leopard we’d just seen at the magical golden hour of sunset. Back at camp Jackson taught me how to use airdrop so we could share our pictures.
With one foot in his proud Maasai heritage, Jackson also has a firm foot planted in planning for the future and that includes technology.
I love that balance about him and seek to do the same myself. Technology is here to stay. Make friends with it and use it for good. And make sure you stay in the driver’s seat. A.k.a. be sure you’re controlling tech and not the other way around.
3. Work together
As we headed out of camp, towards another glorious day on safair in the Mara, we came upon a Cape Buffalo. Surprisingly aggressive, you learn quickly to take a wide berth around male buffalos who are alone or in small groups. Cape Buffalos being one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, Jackson immediately got on his walkie talkie to alert the staff that a buffalo was near to the unfenced camp.
It should go without saying but when we’re all stressed by this unbelievable storm of a pandemic, sometimes the obvious bears repeating.
Like the mama lioness who nodded her cub into the protective shade of this bush, we’ll get through this if we work together as a team.
4. Yin to yang
Jackson easily moves between the many cultures of the people who visit his camp, plus his many roles as safari guide, camp owner, father, husband etc. His business partner focuses on the finances and business development.
I appreciate that about the two of them. They’re each other’s yin to yang. Their skill sets are different enough that they need each other, but as community minded Maasai men, their values are aligned.
Make sure to apply this lesson to yourself. Find the yin to your yang and hang on. Enjoy the differences that this strategy will bring to your life, being introduced to difference and diversity.
Jackson and his business partner lease the land their camp stands on from another Maasai person. They pay for a motorcycle and rangers to help patrol the land. They work with the boys who shepherd the goats, cows and sheep, to educate them about conservation. And they use the beautiful Maasai beadwork of local women in the camp decor. The picture above is of the intricate beading along the edges of the leather placemats (sitting on top of a shuka, a traditional Maasai blanket).
I adore how community focused Jackson is with his business. And I encourage everyone to think about their community and how we can engage, uplift, work in cooperation and strengthen them.
And there you have them, ten wise lessons from my wise Maasai friend, Jackson. From respect, watching for cycles, being prepared and patient, stopping frequently and being alert for signals to soaking up learning, technology, working together, finding your yin to your yang and community, it’s a rich tapestry to weave together for a beautiful life.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead.
- Check out the video where I first saw Jackson. You won’t believe your eyes when the Dorobo men really do go up to lions and take away some of their fresh kill.
- While I’m all about learning (always and forever) that doesn’t mean we won’t fall, fail and flounder from time to time. Don’t worry, the floor and I have your back.
- None of these lessons are radical or revolutionary. They are gentle common sense … that’s hard to apply when life gets hectic and hairy. Here are some rejuvenation cards for you. Share them with a friend or colleague and use the space they create to help you apply the lessons.