Growing up in a big, busy family and living in a small community village adjacent to the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, the Mkansi family learned a deep love and respect for their environment and almost all have made a career close to their roots. Life was very different then and they fondly recall trips to Skukuza on the old steam train that ran along the (now disused) Selati railway line; reminisce about the veterinary fence that separated the Sabi Sand from Kruger Park; and even remember a time before Sabi Sabi was created. Lawrence, in particular, remembers how his father used to cycle along the Selati railway line way back when.
Eight of the Mkansi family members now work at Sabi Sabi, each with a different focus, yet each with a continued passion for working with people in their beloved bushveld. Visitors to Sabi Sabi are familiar with the impressive sight of the tall, broad-shouldered brothers, Lawrence, Phios and Louis, who are all long-term employees at the lodges. Phios and Louis are expert trackers, most at home out in the open on safari sharing their vast knowledge with guests and giving them an insight into the rich cultural heritage of the local Shangaan people.
Lawrence has come a long way since joining Sabi Sabi as a gardener 20 years ago. His path to Bush Lodge Assistant Lodge Manager and Group Head Ranger has seen him work as a Night Watchman, Bar Tender, Waiter, Tracker and Senior Ranger. And while he is now on the management team, there is nothing he likes better than being back at the helm of a safari vehicle reliving his guiding days with the reserve’s myriad wildlife species.
Sisters Petunia and Patricia fulfil support roles at Bush Lodge, while Lindiwe, Anna and Salvation are part of the Selati Camp team.
Although eight family members working together is rare, there are many examples at Sabi Sabi of siblings, parents, cousins and other relatives all working together. It’s not surprising given that the reserve was started as a family business and retains strong family ties to this day. This is part of what makes Sabi Sabi special and unique and why visitors instantly feel at home, enveloped in the warm African hospitality for which the reserve is renowned.
Meet some of our wonderful Mkansi’s – Lawrence, Petunia and Patricia. They are a closely knit family and exemplify the bonds that are very much part of the Sabi Sabi ethos.