It is with a heavy heart I write this today. Our family has lost two of our beloved team in the last few weeks: long time guide and mentor in the South Luangwa, Aubrey Njobvu and senior guide and conservationist in the Lower Zambezi, Alan Bonella.
Many of our lives were touched by both men and their passing leaves our Zambian homes a quieter and less colourful place.
Remembering Aubrey Njobvu
A member of our family since 1999, Aubrey was a gentle man with a poetic soul and a dry sense of humour. His deepfelt passion for the bush spilled over to his immediate family, his team and all those of you lucky enough to explore the South Luangwa Valley with him.
I worked alongside Aubrey for almost 10 years and one of my favourite memories is a walk between the Sleepout and Time + Tide Kakuli, where he was the Manager at the time. On the walk I asked Aubrey, "How likely is it to see porcupine on foot?" To which he replied with his cheeky smile, "How else do you think you'll see them Mindy?"
Aubrey's words were poetry, spoken calmly and softly:
"Life is like a spider's web. We are all spun into the same web, if you cut one strand, you just end up destroying yourself...life is precious."
"The African bush is written in pencil, not pen. There is always an eraser close by to change it at any second."
"The thing is, a game drive is like looking at the pictures in a beautiful book, but a bush walk is when you read the words."
Kind, compassionate and wise, Aubrey passed peacefully at home, surrounded by his family following a long illness. He leaves a lasting legacy and an absence that will be sorely felt.
We miss you Aubrey.
Remembering Alan Bonella
The team at Conservation Lower Zambezi said it best, "... the Lower Zambezi just became a whole lot quieter...his presence filled the valley."
Chris, our Time + Tide Chongwe founder, and I, have been sharing memories of Alan. Chris has known him for over a decade and worked closely with him, and wife Nicci, these past three years as our Time + Tide Chongwe House Managers.
Chris' enduring memory is of a man who was humble and who always said, "...don't ask anyone to do anything that you won't do yourself." Alan lived by this religiously. The last time Chris saw him, Alan was covered with dust and grass, loading old thatch with his team as they re-built the roof of Chongwe House.
Alan was friends with everyone in the Lower Zambezi and you would never hear him saying a bad word about anyone. He leaves a legacy spanning a decade of guiding, conservation and fearless exploration through many wild corners of Africa. He could draw beautifully, was an avid fisherman and talented photographer, capturing the beauty of the region through his lens.
With a great sense of humour, passion for wildlife and a flair for storytelling, he was a fantastic guide and teacher to many, being instrumental in co-designing the excellent Lower Zambezi guiding courses.
Alan, a veteran mountain biker, felt unwell during a longer ride in December and hit his head after he fainted. He is survived by his best friend, Nicci, who was his childhood sweetheart, partner in life, work and endless adventures. Nicci will be coming 'home' to the Lower Zambezi and Chongwe House again for the 2019 season.
Alan, you have left an enormous hole in our midst. We miss you.