On the sacrifices
Of a million women before me
What can I do
To make this mountain taller
So the women after me can see farther.’
As the female founder of a predominantly female-led company, my mission at ROAR AFRICA is as much about crafting experiential journeys that edify Africa for our guests, as it is about supporting and empowering women within the safari industry. It’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Our vision: ‘If African women rise, wildlife will thrive’ informs almost everything we do.
It was this that prompted our inaugural Women’s Empowerment trip back in 2019, when Pat Mitchell (ROAR AFRICA Board member and creator of TEDWomen and I hosted a very special group of influential women along with an all-female team of pilots, trackers, guides, anti-poachers, chefs, hospitality leaders and conservationists. In recognition of the fact that in Africa, women have historically been excluded from positions of leadership and very often given responsibility without authority, our mission with our first women’s empowerment trip was to recognize these pioneering women for the outliers they are in the safari industry – and to celebrate them for the ways in which they shatter tribal and western glass ceilings by virtue of what they do.
There were many highlights on this first-of-its-kind journey but one memory that stands out for me, is the overwhelming pride and joy with which we introduced our guests to Kelathlilwe Malaki – the Tracker Academy’s first female tracker graduate. Not to mention the incredible optimism I felt a few days later when a male tracker took me aside to explain that he’d never imagined that his own daughter might one day be able to follow in his footsteps, but having had the opportunity to see Kelathililwe in action, he’d changed his mind. It was an emotional exchange for both of us, and proof of the enormous practical and perceptual power that these journeys hold for all participants.
In 6 weeks time we will set off on our second Women’s Empowerment Trip in Kenya. I know that the collaborative spirit borne out of our inaugural retreat will be ever more powerful thanks to the stellar lineup of dynamic female speakers. We are incredibly fortunate that some of the world’s leading female change agents are our clients and so I feel a keen sense of excitement at the enormous possibilities that our gathering will manifest. Not least because our guests will be treated to twice daily talks by inspirational women such as:
Wanjira Maathai, is an environmental activist, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa for the World Resources Institute, and the director of international affairs at the Green Belt Movement (an organisation that was founded by her mother, the late Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai). We are enormously privileged to have Wanjira join us for this trip, for she is not only continuing her mother’s incredible legacy but also blazing her own trail as an advocate for justice, green energy and gender equality.
Dr. Lucy King as a zoologist, based in Kenya’s Tsavo region, Dr. King heads up the Human-Elephant Co-Existence Program for the research charity Save The Elephants. She is also a Research Associate to the University of Oxford and a winner of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment and the prestigious Future for Nature Award. As a direct result of being a speaker at our first Women’s Empowerment trip, Dr King’s impassioned explanation of her ground-breaking bee-hive fence design (that has succeeded in reducing human-elephant conflict by a staggering 80% in 20 countries across Africa and Asia) saw her receive not only a Helen Gurley Brown Magic Grant but also an invitation to share her story at the TEDWomen conference later that same year in Palm Springs, California.
Dr Lucy King
Dr. Jackie Chimhanzi is the CEO of the African Leadership Institute, (founded by Archbishop Desmond Tutu - a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation commission) that works with Oxford University to develop new African leaders with corporate sponsors such as Investec, Centum, GSK, GIZ, Rio Tinto and the Mastercard Foundation. A seasoned strategist and expert on trade and economic development in Africa, Dr. Chimhanzi was recognized by Forbes Africa magazine as one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa in 2012 who are shaping the narrative of Africa's rising.
Dr. Jackie Chimhanzi
Anne Powys is an ethno botanist with a long and deep association with the resident pastoral communities of Kenya. Her childhood was spent alongside her forester grandfather who instilled in her a passion to preserve the flora of Laikipia, with a special emphasis on the remaining indigenous forests and their enormous medicinal value. Anne’s work as a volunteer and trustee of The Suyian Trust sees her involved in raising funds to support local communities with forest protection in the Samburu and Laikipia regions.
Resson Kantai Duff is the Deputy Director of Ewaso Lions (EL) and performs a critical role in linking the fields of research, conservation and fundraising. With a master’s degree in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from Oxford, Resson’s dynamism and passion to get more Kenyans engaged in wildlife conservation is changing the face of female conservation in Kenya. In addition, to the thoughts, inspiration and vision of these inspiring women, we have created an itinerary that is as diverse in its offerings as it is in its opportunities.
Resson Kantai Duff
At Segera we will meet the first all women anti-poaching team in Kenya. We will also learn the impact this training has on their lives and the lives of the families who will now be supported by them. We will walk with the Canine unit and participate in the "Tree of Life" program ( the creation of a giant forest in the shape of a Rhino) that will help restore the 4% of deforestation that has occurred in Kenya over the past decade.
As I have watched and supported Segera over the years it is obvious to me that the animals instinctively know this is a safe space. I was utterly amazed at how much wildlife there now is at Segera compared to 6 years ago when I first visited. Without visionary Jochen Zeitz, this sanctuary would’ve remained the dust bowl it was 12 years ago. Instead we have an oasis, teaming with wildlife, 200 people with jobs, an all women anti poaching team and well preserved wilderness. May it never be lost on us, that it is because of all this brave work in conservation that our wildlife and wild spaces still exist and that we get to be the guests in this paradise.
Given the past year we have all been through, wellness is very much front of mind for us. On this trip we will have all-important down-time activities such as daily yoga sessions with international yoga teacher Mary Tilson, daily wellness treatments, healthy organic food, daily game drives and walking safaris - bush meditation and enthralling movie nights hosted by renown documentary film makers. Most of all, we will have the space to reset, reconnect and heal.As always, our emphasis on sharing a series of unique and curated experiences not found on any ordinary safari, is underscored by the certainty that travel will make us not just better people, but better wives, partners, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and members of our respective communities too.
In the end, as so brilliantly stated by Amanda Gorman at yesterday's inauguration "There is always light if we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it." I know as a unified group of women traveling together, we will see the light, and my goal for this trip, is to inspire all of us to be brave enough to be it. If you’d like to secure your place on this extraordinary journey, at this special moment in time, there are just two spaces left, mail firstname.lastname@example.org