Africa - our home, our source of innate flow

March 22, 2024

“Anita and I both have an enormous respect for the wild and a deep commitment fueled by passion to uplift women.” – Deborah Calmeyer

For many of us who grew up in Africa, once we leave, we spend our lives trying to return home, missing the people, the places and wild spaces that shaped us. Out in the wider world, when we do find one another, we are drawn together like moths to a flame. I met South African stylist and AMANU founder Anita Patrickson in Los Angeles in her studio. It was like meeting a lifelong friend – in an instant, we bonded.

Deb and Anita - childhood

We share so many threads in common, from growing up on farms in the bush to building businesses in America that shine a spotlight back on Africa. And though our mediums are different – for Anita, it’s the design and delivery of African-inspired style and me, the design and delivery of life-changing experiences in the wild – our steadfast mission to empower women is the same. United, we know that we can be the change and continue the trajectory of making the impossible possible for women. Therein lies the beauty of friendships formed through travel.

By women, with women, for women

Anita Patrickson began her career as a stylist, zipping between Los Angeles and New York with A-list Hollywood clients. A desire for a timeless, quality product and a more connected retail experience prompted her to start AMANU, a sustainable, custom-made sandal studio in West Hollywood, in 2018. Ironically, the journey to bring AMANU out into the world is also what returned Anita home. A conversation with a friend sparked the idea to bring AMANU to Africa as a conduit to upskill local women, provide employment and connect local artisans with international guests. Given Singita’s ethos of empowering local communities and prioritizing conservation, it felt like a natural fit to set up at Singita. A few weeks later, Anita and a master American cobbler were on a plane to South Africa’s Sabi Sands. Together, they taught local women how to make AMANU sandals on-site, eventually spreading the initiative to other Singita properties in South Africa.


As Anita says, “The women are so wonderfully creative and really have a sense of how to make things with their hands, it’s innate.” Now primarily based in Cape Town, all of AMANU’s production happens in the Mother City, while decorative metal plating is hand-cast by women-led artisans in the township of Kibera, Nairobi. Anita has succeeded in achieving what all mission-motivated founders want – to parlay her origins into a business idea that upskills vulnerable communities, reduces waste and leaves a legacy of positive impact. To use her words, “At AMANU, we’re not just making sandals; we’re weaving a narrative of empowerment, resourcefulness and community. Together, with our artisans, we are taking steps towards a sustainable future where every creation tells a story, and every step leaves a meaningful footprint.”

Powered by purpose

The synchronicities between AMANU and ROAR AFRICA are obvious. Anita describes her inspiration as “the culmination of life’s experiences,” and I wholeheartedly agree. Once you experience the magic of Africa, you want to share it with anyone who will let you. Both of our companies are powered by purpose, from our all-women workforces to ROAR AFRICA’s annual Women’s Empowerment Retreats to AMANU’s sustainable production initiatives. But really, we’re both crafting cross-border connections through authentic experiences. Whether through iconic, soul-stirring journeys like The Greatest Safari on Earth or the precious private moments we have with our guests, we hold space for the stillness and surrender that leads you back to yourself.

Amanu mailer

I firmly believe that this surrender into the rhythms and energy of a place and its people is what brings fulfilment. At ROAR AFRICA, we share with you the complexities, truth, beauty and culture that make up the fabric of our destinations. Anita holds the same reverence for authenticity that we do. What a heart-expanding thing for international guests on safari to sit and spend forty minutes chatting with a local artisan, learning about each other’s lives and finding common ground and then leaving with a hand-crafted item that works like a memory you can keep and wear forever. In our disconnected, distracted society, these are the moments of real human connection we crave. Creating the space and time for these connections to seamlessly happen is what we are all about.

Paving a path

It feels written in the stars that two farmgirls who flew the nest to America would join forces and travel back into the bush to share what we have learned, from entrepreneurship to empowerment, with the women of our home continent. Anita summed up my sentiments perfectly: “It’s a beautiful journey where you leave home to discover everything else. And then you realize everything that you need is back home.”

I hope this story inspires you to travel home to Africa, the cradle of our collective humanity, with us and experience the authentic awe, joy, profound inspiration and human connection I promise is waiting for you.


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