Why our children need to fall in love with Africa

“Legacy is not what you leave for somebody, but what you leave in somebody.” – Ross Symons

When planning our legacy, we often think about what tangible things we can leave for our children and future generations. We accumulate wealth, property, and possessions in the hope that our loved ones will benefit from them long after we’re gone. But what if there is a more impactful way to leave a legacy for our children? What if we could give them something that would last longer than any material thing we could ever provide?

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Echoing the sentiment of world-renowned South African origami artist, Ross Symons, I believe the most important legacy we can leave for our children is not just a physical inheritance, but a spiritual one.

Shaping our future generations’ value for our planet, exposing them to cultures that view the world differently from them, and connecting them with people who have a different life experience than they have are all powerful ways to ground – and elevate – our kids from an early age.

I never went on a wildlife safari as a child and was only exposed to the experience in my 20s. I felt the loss of not being exposed to this part of the world in my formative years and therefore, took my own children and grandchildren on safaris from a very young age. I remember going on a safari in Kenya and watching them see lions, elephants, and zebras up close for the first time. I also remember taking them to a small village where we delivered educational supplies to the families who lived there.

After my personal encounters with Africa and decades of investing in my own (now grown-up) children this way, I am confident that exposing them to its rich cultures, magnificent landscapes and exceptional wildlife built a solid foundation for them to be empathetic, mindful contributors in this world, and created a shift in their minds, hearts and their spirits that could only be activated in this unique way.

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Falling in love cannot happen from afar. Falling in love must be done in person and over time. We begin to fall in love with Africa when we breathe in the dry, dusty air from the rolling plains, listen for a hidden predator’s silky growl beneath a blanket of stars or take in the magnificence and wonder of herds of wild creatures roaming through the tall grass at will.

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It’s no secret that Africa is a land of contrasts. A place where you can witness the most breath-taking sunsets and the harshest poverty side by side. It is this juxtaposition that makes Africa so unique and eye-opening for travellers. When we expose our children to Africa, they are not just seeing a different place, they are seeing a different way of living, and this can be incredibly powerful for them – and us.

Broadening our own and our children’s horizons in a meaningful way to shape whom we are becoming. Every day we make decisions that have an impact on the world around us, and we should never forget that little eyes are watching us constantly. We are our children’s and grandchildren’s role models, and it is our responsibility to show them the kind of people we want them to become. If we want our children to be kind, compassionate, and generous human beings, then we need to show them what that looks like. We need to take them on trips that will make them feel empathy for others, make giving to others a habit and give them a sense of global citizenship.

We need to travel with our children to Africa.

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My eldest granddaughter has benefited so much from having Mr Safari as her grandfather – at 7 years old, she has been on more safaris than most people will experience in their lifetime. She remembers the names of all her favourite people whom she met on safari – and cried when she said goodbye to them. She calls herself a Twitcher (a bird watcher). She calls herself a wildlife photographer. I believe this influence on her has helped mould her into an incredibly compassionate and kind-hearted young human.

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There is no doubt that African travel experiences offer something truly unique and memorable for us and our families. But more than that, they offer opportunities for our kids to learn about themselves, the world around them, and their place in it. When we travel with our children, we are giving them a gift that will last a lifetime. We are giving them a legacy they can be proud of as they grow up.

Africa is a place of great beauty and diversity, but it is also a place of great need. There are many communities in Africa that lack basic necessities such as clean water and healthcare. And the need for greater conservation efforts has not waned. By traveling to Africa, we can help our kids learn about the importance of giving back and making a difference in the world – and by helping them fall in love with Africa, we can ensure its place in their hearts and the conservation of its wildlife, land, and communities will become an integral part of their identities.

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