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Tembe 2021

26 May 2021 - Marlise Louw
What better way to break the Covid blues than to have the event taking place exactly one year after lockdown came about? This year was so much more special, as people were hunger for getting away from all the effects that Covid had.

Just to start with a bit of history as this is probably one of the longest running LROC events, still going from strength to strength.

 

The Tembe LROC event started over 10 year ago by an LROC member who was also an Honorary Officer (HO), Alex van den Horst.  The event initially started off only as a Fundraiser event hosted by the HO’s of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to obtain funds for assistance in the Tembe Elephant Park.  Later years this developed into a 2 phased event:

4 days of Work Week in which the LROC members assist with projects in the reserve; and

4 days of Fund Raising for which the funds go to the HO’s for further project assistance.

 

The Work Weeks events became planned and coordinated under the guidance and relationship building of Alex and Dick de Bruyn and is still going strong with Gavin Fletcher taking over the reins from LROC’s side. 

 

As usual we had our projects pre-planned and divided into groups.  Projects for 2021 included:

  1. Sanding and varnishing of the Main Gate sign
  2. Upgrade and fixing up the Manungu Picnic site, including new braai facilities.
  3. Maintenance on the Tiba walkway bridge.
  4. Expansion of the fence at Ponweni camp.
  5. Refurbish and painting the Rondavels at Makhwela.

 

But I do not want to be the only one telling how awesome this event is.  I would like to give you the perspective of some of the team members.   

 

Kevin & Lyn Prozesky – Project included Tiba Bridge, Fence line at Ponweni Camp.  It was also Kevin’s birthday which was celebrated in the lovely environment.  

Q: What was the 3 best items to bring along:

A: “My wife, Chainsaw and spirit level”

Q: How many times have you done the Tembe events?

A: “2nd time for Kevin, 1st time for Lyn”

Q: Will you join the event again?

A: Hell, yes!

Q: What was your favourite dish you made for dinner?

A: Potjie, and baked bread.  (And Kevin’s birthday cake! Thanks to Eldene.)

Q: If you could describe your Tembe experience in one word, what would it be?

A: Privileged

 

Richard and Eldene Mason – Projects included Manungu Picnic area, Tembe Sign and Water trench at Ponweni camp.

Q: As new comers what did you expect from the Tembe event?

A: Hard work and beautiful nature

Q: What was the highlight during your time in Tembe?

A: The satisfaction of seeing completed projects done.

Q: Did you bring anything you would leave at home next time?

A: No

Q: How different is Tembe experience to other LROC events?

A: Exclusivity of visiting the area, and camaraderie

Q: If you could describe your Tembe experience in one word, what would it be?

A: Privileged

 

Dennis Stonefield and Jarrod Du Rand – Projects included the Manungu picnic area, Water trench at Ponweni, Tembe sign, and securing road signange from damage by elephants.

Q: How many times were you part of Tembe events?

A: Dennis’ fourth event, and Jarrod’s first event.

Q: What was the best tool you brought along?

A: Drilling machine.  Jarrod’s mind was working all the way with innovation and ideas. So as, compiler of the article this was definitely his best tool. ;-)

Q: What makes you come back again?

A: The natural, unspoilt environment and leopard sighting which was one of very few.

Q: If you could describe your Tembe experience in one word, what would it be?

A: Hectic

  

Lex and Carol Edy – Fund raiser week

Q: How many times have you participated in Tembe event?

A: 11 years

Q: What are the 3 best tools you brought along on this trip and previous work week events?

A: My brain, My wife, Enthusiasm

Q: What tools will you leave at home?

A: All my Land Rover spares

Q: If you could describe your Tembe experience in one word, what would it be?

A: Soulfood (I know, I know, we made it one word..;-)

Q: What makes the event different than other LROC events?

A: The relationship with the HOs and continued support to a good cause.

 

Jenny and Gordon – This interview took slightly longer to finish as Jenny has so much life in her that one cannot just “pop in” for a chat. ;-) Projects involved the upgrade of Makhwela Camp.

Q: What equipment is absolutely essential?

A: Be self-sustained with all camping gear, full First Aid kit and lots of wine.

Q: What was your favourite dish so far?

A: Gordon’s potato wraps on the fire.  Par boiled potatoes, wrapped in bacon and grilled.

Q: What was the highlight of the Tembe event for you?

A: Being able to see the bush, untouched by tourism.

Q: If you could describe your Tembe experience in one word, what would it be?

A: Blessed

Q: What did you enjoy the most of the event?

A: The camaraderie built around projects and evening stories by the fire. Outside ablutions.

Q: What would you describe your mission in life?

A: Maintain a positive attitude and bring laughter and joy to people.

 

Jonathan and Ricky – Projects included Fence line and the electrification thereof.

Q: What surprised you the most? 

A: A spider I later called Costa.

Q: Did you learn anything new? Mentally, physically, psychologically 

A: Mentally: Unlikely; Physically: I can eat baked beans every night without my a-hole exploding; Psychologically: Singing Tom Jones’ It’s not unusual, is highly contagious.

Q: What was your highlight of the Tembe event? 

A: My 8th Black Label on Night 2.

Q: What will you leave at home next time? Something not practical or usable in the bush (No, you cannot say Justin;-) 
A: My collection of Oprah Winfrey drink coasters.

Q: What makes you come back to Tembe? 

A: Jenny

 

As can be seen in the spirit of the answers, the quirkiness of the group and the absolute camaraderie to help on the most difficult tasks most people have ever done in their personal capacity, this is truly an event that places itself in its own category.  

 

With a few last words, the Fund Raiser event brought in just a little short of R40 000 to the Honorary Rangers, which will be put to very good use for the coming year.  We are forever grateful to be part of this initiative and hope the relationship with all the HO’s continues to be positive, beneficial and rewarding to all parties involved.

 

There are no words to describe the Tembe experience, it is not a noun, verb or anything, it is a feeling that comes to mind.  However, the following poem would definitely be precise in describing the experience for a child of Africa.

 

When you acquire the taste for dust,

The Scent of your first rain,

You’re hooked for life in Africa,

And you’ll not be right again,

Till you can watch again the settling moon,

And hear the jackal bark,

And know that they’re around ya,

Waiting in the dark.

 

When you long to see the elephants,

Or hear the coucal’s song,

When the moonrise sets your blood on fire,

You’ve been away too long

It’s time to cut the traces loose,

And let your heart fo free

Beyond that far horizon,

Where your spirit yearns to be.

 

Africa is waiting....come!

Since you’ve touched the open sky,

And learned to love the rustling grass,

The wild fish eagle’s cry,

You’ll always hunger for the busg,

For the lion’s rasping roar,

To camp at least beneath the stars,

And to be at peace once more.

 

C Emily-Dibb

 

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