It’s Monday 2nd December 2013 and return to the wild.

Its Monday and return to the wild Well another weekend has come and gone! I hope you enjoyed your weekend and are ready for the week ahead! We’ll hear from Keyala (who’s fondly known as Kiki) this week who up until a few months ago had been M.I.A. Over to you Kiki.

“Although I have been declared ‘missing-in-action’ from the bush for the last year, I have in fact been keeping myself very busy, studying hard, at the Kent University in the UK, completing my Masters in Business and Administration programme. This is not only my official announcement that I have returned home, safe and sound, but also to share some of my experiences with you. I never imagined I would go back to school to learn again, but I was wrong. The idea to return to studying came into my mind when I realised that I was the Senior Manager for Robin Pope Safaris and yet had not completed any management courses. My years of working under Simon Cousins, who did not leave any stone unturned when it came to running a safari business, has been very influential in my job to date, however the opportunity of spending a year studying, kindly sponsored by RPS, was not one to shy away from. When September 2012 arrived for me to depart to the UK, I was not very happy as I was going to be away from my family.

My main concern was leaving my wife, Chalwe, with all the children, without my support for 12 months. However, I can safely say that these concerns were unnecessary as Chalwe has been amazing and looked after the kids and managed the home 100% perfectly in my absence, with the support of our extended families. My experiences in the UK were way beyond what I was expecting. Studying aside, I enjoyed visiting many friends who I have met over the years guiding in the South Luangwa. I also made a good network of new university friends. We acquired the nickname ‘United Nations’ because we came from all around the globe. It was good to be able to share experiences of our different backgrounds and work experiences.

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Probably the main highlight for me was when my wife, Chalwe, received sponsorship from Jen and John Talbot to visit me. When Chalwe arrived it was like paradise on earth. We really had a lovely time exploring the sights of the UK and visiting friends. Ex caterers, Rails, Emma and Catherine welcomed us both and looked after us as if we were guests in the camps! In addition to such a warm welcome, Chalwe was also able to undergo an open heart surgery operation. This was made easy and comfortable despite us being away from home. The support we received from the people I have met while on safari was incredible and heart-warming.

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One of the main challenges I faced in the UK was the weather! Coming from Zambia’s South Luangwa, which is never at freezing point, it was somewhat of a shock to me to experience the cold temperatures. I also struggled with the ‘late’ wake up of 7am, since my natural alarm clock is around 5am. Cooking for myself was also challenging since being brought up in one of the best safari companies in Southern Africa and also being treated to Chalwe’s delicious food when I am off duty you have little time to learn how to cook. However, I learned very quickly how to survive. I found out that Jungle Oats porridge was easy to cook and I also asked Daudi to ship 20kg of Zambian rice over! Making friends with the other people in my flat was also key, since they were very good chefs! My days at university were somewhat different to what I would normally find myself doing.

I was studying in the classroom from 7am to 5pm, five days a week, learning about all aspects of business. Although I am used to ‘office paperwork’ safari style, writing four thousand word assignments every two weeks and completing two sets of English exams was slightly different! I rose to the challenge and did enjoy having to engage my brain to academic work. I was particularly happy to finally submit my dissertation in August. This signaled the end of my masters but also my return home to see my wife, children and family.

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My homecoming was such an exciting day, not only for me but also my family. I cannot resist sharing my seven year old daughter’s reaction to Daddy’s arrival. As soon as my plane arrived at Mfuwe airport, she bolted through security as soon as she saw me walk out of the plane. She was so fast that not even Usain Bold would have caught up with her! I know I had an excellent time in the UK and am very grateful to RPS for giving me this opportunity but, in my opinion, nothing can beat the experience of bush life in South Luangwa National Park. After returning home, I did not last more than 4 days before I was back in the safari khakis and guiding at the Luangwa River Camp!

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Thanks Kiki, it’s great to have you back with us – we missed you!

On that note I will bid you a fond farewell. Enjoy the week ahead and have fun

Cheers

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