The African sun scorched down upon us, as we limped across the dehydrated twig-like blades of grass that lay beneath our feet. Sweat ran down my face, over every pore and escarpment, until it reached my chin, where it dripped anxiously onto the ever-begging grass. It was my first day in the Kruger National Park. My legs were scarred with scratches and bruises, my back felt as if it was going to crack into two pieces and every struggling heartbeat made my head thump in unbearable pain.
As I awoke the following morning to the sight of fleabites all over my body, I was extremely grateful to notice that today our views of the African Safari would be held from the safe, luxurious comfort of an open-air tour bus. I grabbed my binoculars and digital camera and as I left the hut, I felt I was ready to experience the thrilling adventure and untainted magnificence of African culture, one that is so pure and unadulterated by modern society, a culture so unrestricted, a culture that holds a deep, hidden inner beauty, that only blind men can see.
The morning dew hung gently upon the edge of every blade of grass like a bed of sparkling diamonds. The rising sun painted the perfect picture of the unforgettable day that lay ahead of us. We drove for about ten minutes until we reached a large group of Log-eared African elephants, feeding passively on a wide-branched Marula tree. Their long silver trunks grasped the soft fluffy fruit, fondling and fussing over every tiny twig that hung on it. One opened its jaws and let out an enormous, breathtaking cry. Its gigantic size and untroubled way of life reflected on all those that have seen them.
Their peaceful presence could tame the hearts of demons, while their warm friendly nature left one with a calm sense of security and love. Further down the dusty gravel path, we found a group of Gemsbok and Wildebeest that were blissfully enjoying drinking and playing around a waterhole nearby. Their awareness of all sounds and happenings were hidden by their gentle and submissive impression. Their soft, neat jackets of fur glittered in the sunlight, while their uniquely woven patterns of orange, black and white, told a story within itself.
As we drove further, we heard a sudden hustling in a couple of bushes adjacent to the bus. Everyone fixed his or her eyes and ears on the suspecting bush. Suddenly we heard a deep rattling voice from inside the bush shout the word, “Sagima! “. Terror strickened, my body frozen, I watched in utter amazement as a group of dark skinned men, holding spears, bow and arrows, charge out of four surrounding bushes. At first I thought the were running towards us, but later I was told that they were in fact on a ritual hunting routine, and were trying to surround a group of Springbok that lay innocently near the waterhole.
The journey back to the campsite, and to our awaiting plane, was filled with many laughs and attractive sights of Rhino’s, Lions, Baboons, and the lazy, long-necked Giraffe. As the flickering sun set the sky alight with flames of orange, red and black, so my African safari experienced had come to an end. It was as if I saw – my land and people – for the very first time, here within the silent heart of Africa, here where I had for one moment become blind to all things impure and let the deep, hidden inner beauty of Africa reveal to me the untamed spirit that lies in every one of us.