Keeping your eyes and heart open in Africa will give you the most extraordinary gift. Not a gift of a photograph but the gift of experience. What I remember about this image is not the shock of staring straight up into a leopard that I did not know; what I remember most is the silent exchange of glances of us both defining a mental boundary, and then the acceptance of it.
Early hours of the morning before the temperature rises to an untolerable 44 degree celsius, I find myself in the company of the world's fastest land animal collecting shade. Relaxed and undisturbed by the sounds of the engine, they reluctantly sit up to see who has entered their territory. Have driven by this same tree twice, to and from camp, they go undetected in warm tones of the savannah. Their bodies lie flat as pancakes in the tall grass and they will rise to honor you only if they choose to, as they contemplate chasing the next unsuspecting impala to it's death.
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” ~ Martin Luther King~
Gee was a guide I met in the delta. We searched for cheetah by day in the hot Botswana sun, and fished for catfish at evening's light with fishing line and dried beef jerky. He made me a hat out of palm leaves which turned into a basket that was even strong enough to hold my Nikon.
Gee was the biggest fabricator of the truth. He would tell me how warthogs would hold their breath and walk underwater to travel through the channels of the delta, and that he had never been to a church.
For days he would ask me about faith and what is faith. After being badgered for 3 days over these constant questions I finally broke down. I explained to about my faith and I took out my bottled water and poured it over his head and baptized him in the delta.
Standing wet in the hot sun he asked me why it took me so long to tell him about God. He said, "we are poor people, we want to know what it is that you know."
I said, "but I don't know anything."
He looked at me and smirked, "then where is your faith"?
Gee grew up in the delta. He is a Botswana guide and a leader in his local church.
Sometimes it is hard to know where to start, so the beginning seems appropriate. For weeks my bags have sat unpacked until I could get my bearings. So this is the beginning of a long photographic long journey through Africa.
Packing in itself was an adventure. Trying to navigate through four countries with necessities and camera gear is no easy task. It is not like I had people greeting me in every country, I took off alone for the month with my camera gear in tow. The Nikon always took preference over anything I carried, and my lip salve was a close second. By the time I reached my friends in Zambia I had close to 2000 photos and memories to last a life time. Every photo has a story...and these are mine.