From Barren to Bold - Welcome to Celia in Africa!
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It’s 2am on the morning of departure. Your body is awake before your alarm clock sounds and jumpstarts your actions on automatic. Ticking off the very last things on that endless checklist in record time. The adrenaline fueled nervous excitement gathers like a flight of butterflies… or is it a flutter…

We are going on our next Hayward’s Grand Safari event!

Seven vehicles in the convoy.

Forty crew in the team.

Ten hours of travel.

Five days to go before the guests arrive…

This is no risky outdoor holiday or a half-baked camping adventure.

This IS setting up a private safari event for an illustrious group of executives, who have flown from all around the globe to be a part of this experience and who will carry and share this memory of Africa for the rest of their lives.

From a barren, broken piece of ground, a world-class tented event facility will emerge within five days.

To see it all unfold into something bold is most enlightening.

Mama Mary whistles to herself as she chops, prepares and stirs the cooking pots for the camp crew.

Madala (old man) Piet gets the fire pit roaring and hot water going for the crew showers. This is the Wi-Fi hot spot of the camp, a gathering point where fireside stories, jokes and the daily occurrences are shared… live with each other. The shower-singing contest competes with the jackals at times, but this is the place where you really do pick up the excitement in the team.

Early mornings “Chillibite” (a nickname for a butler Tshilidze), gathers everyone after coffee. In an instance he steps into the shoes of an imaginary Sergeant Major and gets the team to move. Thomas, head of Utilities, starts off by singing a motivational war song where everyone claps to the rhythm and joins in whilst Jerry, Establishment Manager keeps everyone on their toes. It’s guaranteed that the whole team is in stitches laughing as it’s just hilarious when Chillibite ends with a very prominent and assertive “Diiiissmisss”, complete in this imaginary character’s tone of voice.

My mobile office is the heartbeat in camp.

This is where Peter Hayward and I plan, get all last minute administration handled, fielding emergencies and coordinating supply deliveries. It is nowhere else but the back of the Land Rover, close to the generator of course and complete with a printer, trunks designed to fit all our production files, first aid kits and radio charging ports (not to mention my hair dryer!).

At last, the puzzle pieces slot into place and the work of art all illuminates into its bold glory.

A sudden rainbow appears, as if the camp has been sprinkled with fairy dust.

The fires are lit.

The music starts.

The curtains waft in the breeze.

Stewards in their white kurta uniforms stand in contrast to the barren ground.

The trees command the space.

Gourmet tastes are served.

Stories are shared.


We have turned barren ground into a bold event statement.

It is when you have been part of this creation from start to finish, orchestrating all the pieces, and standing there looking at the magic the team has created, when you sigh a deep round of relief. More so, it is when guests are gob smacked by the realization that this has only been created for them as a once off privilege, that relief turns into a rewarding sensation.

The harmonious sound of cattle bells and smell of dust clouds they kick up as they come down to quench their thirst at the waterhole next to our camp in tribal Africa, adjacent to Kruger National Park and the Sabi Sands Reserve, will murmur this memory.

Until the next one.


Celia du Preez

Our continent mother Africa, with its untapped beauty, its inexplicable richness, its independent old wise people, its array of colors and cultures, its patience with time, its tolerance of insanity and the teacher of spirituality, truth and wisdom – enthrall me.