I remember my first call to Brian, I was on my bed as I did not have a chair available, I was working in a newly built lodge.

My employer at the time, gave me the details of a guide/trainer and an assessor they knew of from their Tanzanian days. A South African who was working in Tanzania. Now it is covid-19 times. My call goes through… “Halo!” he said, I responded with “Hello!” and went on introducing myself. He excused him after my long – winded tale of who I am and why I calling. He said I needed to go and place the grass cutter away, explaining he had been gardening. Our chat went on, one thing led to another and we employed Brian at the lodge.

I quickly found out who he is and where he had been. He has an accounting background, but has been a nature guide for more than 25 years, starting his career in the Mabula Game Reserve. He has worked in various places, trained guides all over, and pioneered conservation programmes. These are some of the things I got to learn from him in the time we worked together. He is genuinely modest and does not speak much of his achievements but he never shies away from hard work or having a good time.

Brian Bode and Sean Robertson begin their guiding careers at Mabula Game Reserve. Image credit: Candice Pretorius

Brian Bode conducts guide training in Tanzania. Image credit: Selous Safari Company

Brian and I became good friends, I could go on about all that I have experienced and learned from him.  I hope the reader gets to know and understand someone who, in a quiet way, leaves an echo behind in the people around him, in the people he has worked with, trained in the guiding world and in his passion for the conservation of nature.

As time went past, our roads split, Brian went back to Tanzania to do what he truly loves – training guides to understand and appreciate the bush. Recently he has returned to South Africa, to Kwa-Zulu Natal, for another opportunity to help and train young enthusiastic people closer to home (read more about the initiative here).

I write this about him because I feel as if we all need to meet Brian and have the privilege of spending time with him.  We live in a fast-paced world where everyone is chasing money and power.  Not Brian, he is not interested in this, he is interested in having fun learning and teaching.  He does this so well and in doing so he contributes massively to conservation, to guides and to their development in Africa.

I think is impossible to measure his success and positive impact on the people he comes across. The title of the story is true to his spirit and something he likes to utter when the African sun has beaten down on him and his eyes are dust-filled after a long day having fun in the African bush – learning and teaching.

As guides even when we are teaching, we are also learning.

– Written by: Koenraad Pretorius

Read more about the WILDTRUST and BushBode – Community Guide Training Programme in Maputaland, Northern Zululand here

WILDTRUST and BushBode community guide training and development, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Image Credit: WILDTRUST