"THE INGWAZI AWARDS"
Summerhill Stud and Hartford House have a long and distinguished record in the upliftment of our communities, and the official opening of the Al Maktoum School of Management Excellence on Investec Stallion Day at Summerhill on the first Sunday of July (3rd July) marks another significant milestone, not only for us, but for the racing and hospitality worlds in general.
It's a well known fact that Summerhill's six consecutive national Breeders' titles, owe much to a programme which has seen some 40 international scholarships awarded to members of our disadvantaged community, and that the beneficiaries have returned not only with a new retinue of skills, but with an entirely new perspective of their own self-worth and where they're headed in life.
Hartford is famously remembered for its traditional dance troupe, ranked third and second respectively in Tokyo and Hong Kong, at international competitions involving more than 140 countries. Less heralded, but just as important, is the culinary educational programme Head Chef, Jackie Cameron, has embarked upon. Some years ago, she recruited into her kitchen several young Zulu ladies of limited education, some of whom were cleaning stables as casuals before they joined her team in the scullery. These budding chefs have worked their way through the ranks, to the point that one represented South Africa four years ago at an international culinary exhibition in Zurich, another jetted to Prague a year later, and in 2010 a third carried the country's colours in Shanghai. In January of this year, Deli Nene, a third generation member of our staff, was proclaimed one of Lever Bros' twelve "Inspiring Chefs", occupying the January page of their 2011 calendar.
As a founder member of the renowned Land of Legends, (the only collection of its kind comprising properties whose "glue" is their celebration of history, tradition and culture), Hartford House is proud to be hosting the first of the "Legends" Ingwazi (Warriors) Awards, in conjunction with Stallion Day at Summerhill. These awards were originated to honour their contributions to life in KwaZulu-Natal of icons of the province, and the first of these goes to Dr Ian Player, one of conservation's most famous sons, and a man who shares our passion for education. The other goes to the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize, who presides over the opening of the School of Excellence on the same day. For the purposes of this article though, we will confine ourselves to Dr Player, who founded the Wilderness Leadership School as long ago as 1963, a foundation which has benefited the lives of people across the racial, cultural and social divides.
The Wilderness Leadership School's origins date back to 1955, however, when the American concept of "wilderness" was first introduced to Dr. Player by a senior game ranger, Jim Feely.
By 1958 half of the Imfolozi Game Reserve (now the Imfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve) and a part of Lake St Lucia, were proclaimed wilderness areas. Access to these places, the first in Africa, was limited to foot, horseback or canoe.
The first group of schoolboys taken on a wilderness trail dates back to 1957, when Dr Player was first acquainted with his colleague and mentor, the late Magqubu Ntombela, a Zulu chief and game guard. They attracted people from across the world to experience the significance of wildlife and its conservation. His career with the old Natal Parks board commenced in 1952, and whilst he was warden of the Imfolozi Game Reserve, he spearheaded two key initiatives :
- Operation Rhino; which saved the last few remaining White Rhino in the world.
- He protected the status of the Imfolozi Wilderness areas, now incorporated into the Smangaliso World Heritage Site.
Hail, Dr Ian. Your presence at the Ingwazi awards, marks a singular moment in the histories of the members of the Land of Legends, which themselves have contributed substantially to the tapestry of the region's heritage.
Proud members of the Land of Legends :
Phinda Private Game Reserve
The Oyster Box
The Beverly Hills
Fordoun Hotel and Spa
Rocktail Beach Camp
Ardmore Ceramic Art