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Growing up on Safari (Chapter 1)

Hmmm, where to even begin?! Have we had the ultimate childhood? Absolutely. Has it been an adventure? Definitely. Has it been tough at times? Of course. Would I change it if I could? Heck no!

 

My brother Harry and myself have got to be two of the luckiest people on earth. Our childhood was like no other. We practically grew up on safari, barefoot and free in some of the most beautiful places in Africa. I can feel my smile getting wider and my mind getting busier as all of the wonderful memories of childhood start to flow back in. Some of them are still so vivid and others fainter but one thing they all have in common is that I cherish each and every single one of them everyday. My mum and dad spent most of their time on safari which we didn’t complain about as this meant that Harry and I got to tag along a lot of the time!

 

Malawi has a rather big piece of my heart as this is where it all began. Harry and I were brought up on the Nyika Plateau, a national park right up in the Northern part of Malawi. Only accessible by air, or if you were feeling up to it – the 5 hour long journey by vehicle up some rather interesting dirt roads. I personally would’ve been better off making my way up and down on foot as I used to experience severe car and air sickness as a child… however, walking would’ve taken days.

 

We lived in a cosy log house with a toasty log fire. Living on the Nyika, meant that life on safari was rather chilly at times so this log fire pretty much burned all year round!  The most vivid and fondest memory I have of living in our little log house is Harry and I hiding behind the couch, mimicking a hyena call as an attempt to scare mum and dad in making them think that an opportunist hyena had crept into the house. This became a daily thing for us as of course mum and dad “believed” there was a hyena in the house everyday, at the same time, behind the same couch, making the same noise… yeah right!

 

Harry and I were homeschooled by my mother in a little classroom built in close proximity to our house. She taught us how to read, write and count off of the old Zimbabwe Correspondence System. With the massive pine forest surrounding our house – it made sense to have our classroom built out of pine wood too. It also had a little fireplace that kept us warm and toasty during the colder months up on the Nyika. After class, we would run down the hill barefoot to the compound to find Good Luck, Tony Blair, Trouble, James and Angela. You may be wondering who on earth?! Well, they were our best friends you see. Our cook, Jo had 3 wives as polygamy was the norm in Malawi and as a result had 12 beautiful children (we think…?) Our nanny’s, Nelly and Aggie were like our second mum’s. They taught us everything from how to play village games, how to dance like a true African and how to speak Tumbuka, the native language up in that part of Malawi. Harry and I grew up speaking fluent Tumbuka, which came in extremely useful at times as mum and dad weren’t as up to scratch with the lingo as we were! We conversed only in Tumbuka to our friends and the staff and when it came to attempting to speak English, we actually found it very difficult. If you were to ask us now if English was our first language as kids, we would both tell you, no.

 

I could go on and on, and probably write a whole book on all the memories of a childhood on safari in Malawi but to summarise it, I would say that Harry and I grew up wild and free in a place that allowed us to be unaware of the toxic things happening in the world, a place that gave us endless space to grow and to learn. The Nyika gave us an innocent childhood and this is something we will always cherish.

 

Six hundred and sixty six words on and I haven’t even touched on Botswana!

 

Stay tuned for chapter two of “Growing up on Safari.”

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