I don’t know which I was more fascinated by, the Dorobo men confidently walking towards a pride of lions to take some of their fresh kill (true story!) or the Maasai man who was so expertly interpreting for the BBC film crew.
In honour of World Humanitarian Day I thought it was perfect timing to share lessons from an extraordinary human. If we all could follow these, our world would be a much better place.
I’ve been going on safaris since my honeymoon way back in 1995 in South Africa and Zimbabwe so my attention was caught by this unusual video.
Jackson, the guide, expertly brought two vastly different cultures together as he interpreted for the BBC film crew. I was intrigued by his juggling act, respect and poise.
On a whim I reached out to him on Facebook and I was delighted when he replied. That started a friendship that goes back years now. When I was looking for a new place to go on safari in the Maasai Mara (Kenya’s Serengeti) I asked him for advice. Turns out he was starting the first fully Maasai owned camp and while it wasn’t officially open yet, he invited my clan and I to stay.
Jackson-The best guide ever!
We never looked back. Jackson is.the.best.safari.guide ever. I’ve sent loads of friends and colleagues to his magical camp and have spent hours enthralled by his encyclopedic knowledge of what he calls his office a.k.a. the Mara.
I was lucky enough to stay there recently and the genesis of this post was born as I reflected back on our years of friendship. Jackson, like no other person I know, appreciates what’s before his eyes. He has a knack for looking with new eyes, at a landscape he’s seen over and over, because there’s always something new to see.
Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned from Jackson Looseyia and his magical Tangulia Mara Camp.
These lessons from my Maasai friend are much needed to make our lives meaningful in these topsy-turvy times. Here we go.
“The film crew are so worried for us, like they want to talk us out of it, like we know nothing,” said the Dorobo men talking to Jackson about their intention to take fresh kill away from lions. I originally saw the BBC video years ago and in the recent Black Lives Matter atmosphere I saw it with new eyes recently.
BBC corners the market on epically wonderful wildlife videos. Who couldn’t listen to Sir David Attenborough narrate yet another mind boggling scene from mother nature. However what originally pulled me to the video, Jackson’s ability to walk between two vastly different cultures, is only now exacerbated.
The video focuses on the white producers, camera people etc. It doesn’t engage the Dorobo men much, nor Jackson. Times are a changing and respect and standing side by side (like Jackson’s does so well) is paramount.
As we bumped along on an early morning safari, with the sun just starting to show her colours again, Jackson shared more of his epic knowledge of the Mara. For example, when the number of lions go up in the Mara, the number of hyaenas go down. And vice versa. He spoke of the Mara River, which wends its muddy way through the Maasai Mara, and is home to loads of crocodiles, hippos and is the stage for daring wildebeest and zebra crossings. The river has been at both its highest and lowest levels ever seen Jackson said.
Jackson reminds me that things come in cycles. When things get tough and today’s situation seems hopeless, I remember to look up and out and remember that tomorrow will come. Cycles come and go. Such is the rhythm of the Mara and of life.
3. Patience and prep
Jackson has the patience of … well, of an epically wonderful safari guide who leads film crews from around the world in search of unusual animal footage. His tool of the trade? His binoculars and camera. In the picture above, though you can’t see them, his trusty binoculars and camera are by his side. On our latest safari he told us how recently, he was training a young guide. A leopard was not far from camp and the younger guide didn’t have his binoculars with him. Jackson’s advice; never be without your tools of the trade. Always have patience and always be prepared.
Having patience being prepared is good advice for life as well.
4. Stop frequently
We are so caught up in the hustle and hurry of everyday life that it can escape us to stop. And stop frequently. When we’re out on safari with Jackson he frequently stops to scan the horizon.
Frequently stopping is good advice to apply to our daily life. Stop and smell, from the scent of pine needle tinged air, to the setting safari sun, whatever your atmosphere brings, stop frequently.
5. Be alert and watch for signals
I was gazing off into the distance, relaxed and happy. I barely noticed the large, dense area of scrubby brush up ahead. As we headed back to camp from another safari we detoured around the brush but drove close.
Jackson had noticed that the herds of zebras around us were staying far away from the brush as they too passed it. Jackson’s interpretation? A signal that lions could be nearby in the bushes.
Staying alert and watching for signals, including but not limited to zebra walking patterns, can yield surprising results.
You’ve got a lot on your mind lately. I know. The ongoing pressures and stresses of COVID are hard on everyone. That’s why I’m pressing pause. I’ll share the next five lessons next week.
Until then stay well. Stay safe. Stay creative.
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.
- On a lighter note, as we’re all spinning our wheels from time to time as we navigate our way through this muck and mire, check out a clip of me learning how to do that literally, learning how to 4WD in Kenya’s mud.
- Lead with putting into action my five tips from Jackson: respect, watching for cycles, being prepared and patient, stopping frequently and being alert for signals. Nothing radical or revolutionary; gentle common sense that’s hard to apply
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