Lessons from the Dragon: Courage and Reality

On a recent hike to the Injisuthi region of the magnificent Drakensberg, I learnt and experienced many things.

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Above all I was inspired by the courage shown by Samuel, courage and attitude. When we arrived at the first swimming hole, ice cold, very deep water; I pushed him in since he was the only guy to still enter! He coud not swim at all! When Xavi approached to help, Samuel nearly drowned him too! Luckily Tom was around to push everyone to safety. To my amazement Samuel was not angry, he saw his experience as a victory. The next day, at Marble baths, the team building require everyone to go down a slide and end up in a turbulent pool. Again Samuel was the last man standing, so Doc and I helped him in with some encouragement and some gentle force. He did it. And coming up from the water he hugged Tom for about a minute and had literal tears of joy, relief and pride. It was awesome.

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Besides the courage shown by Samuel, the whole hike was awesome. Not fake awesome, but real awesome. The kind of good and real that is hard to produce in a workshop or classroom. I had a bit of conflict with Tshepo because despite being smart and good, he fell into the habit of always making excuses when called on a mistake or error. I pointed it out and it seemed a bit hard for him to take. But he kept at it and although the habit of making excuses or jokes instead of owning up will take time to kick, Tshepo is in it and doing great. My chommie. He posted this pic and funny description on Facebook after a few days:

The last morning of the hike was a bit of a downer. Three of the guys started making noise at 4am, robbing us of two hours sleep and then we discovered that one kid did his number two in the footpath! The reflections about these things were more depressing than the actual problems, and we headed back to the camp with a muted vibe. On the trip back to Joburg I became very ill. Headaches and vomiting buckets full! Never again salami on a hike!

I loved the whole experience, the ups and downs, the jokes, the deep stuff, the tiredness, the beauty. Real stuff. The hike was not perfect, but it was real. We all take years to change, but I would like to believe this hike stimulated something important in all of us. My highlight has to be from Tshepo, again. For most of the youths the hiking food is a mega culture shock, and when I discovered today that Tshepo took what he learnt and applied it to daily life I was more than chuffed. Provita instead of pap or bread! Priceless.

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