For those black people who think camping is purely for white people should read Fikile Hlatshwayo's new launched book Blacks Do Caravan as this book aims to inspire black families to take time out of their busy schedules and spend valuable time with their families to discovery the therapeutic nature of camping and to discover the beauty of our country.
According to Fikile when her family suggested that they go on a 3 months camping spree in 2014 to all nine province in South Africa she was puzzled. “I come from a culture where camping is purely for white people. How can they think so low? Camping to me is associated with being poor? Besides, how many Black people camp or caravan in South Africa or in the world? I could see the sadness in their faces when I declined and later reconsidered.”
To Fikile's amusement on her travels which took her to over 60 caravan parks across the country. She discovered that caravan camping can be used as tool like sports to unite South Africans which is still a divided nation in terms of race. “I learnt many things during this journey but mostly important was about the closeness of the camping community and how people look out for one another. This was a life-changing and enriching experience for me and my family”
Being in the wild as Fikile narrates in her book it is nothing like life in the suburbs where she comes from where their huge house feels like a prison, with high walls, an electric fence, alarm system and cameras. “In a caravan park there is no sense of fear, no walls and all security features. There is a sense of belonging, connectivity with your inner self and, of course, the liberation nature has to offer”
Why write this book? She said her ultimate goal is to make this book an inspiration to all South Africans to take time out of their busy schedules and spend precious time with their families to discover the beauty of our country. Above all to break boundaries created by the past regime and contribute to the unite that is needed for all South Africans to move forward and experience this country equally, whether caravanning or doing any other form of holidaying.
The therapeutic nature of camping discovered by Fikile was that when she started this trip she was diagnosed with excessive 'burnout' a condition that has become prevalent in this country caused by consent demands of work among other things. While on this trip she found fulfilment and healing.
“ We went into this travels as a broken family but came out as one happy family. The reason being that we spent valuable time together. We got to experience new things together; we sat around the fire and ate together. We swam in rivers and waterfalls, walked in forests and beaches, hiked on mountains, and rolled on sand dunes.
Nature stimulates your inner senses, when you come back home from a weekend away, you will be rejuvenated and happy with your loved ones”
She appealed to the Ministry of Tourism specifically to do more in promoting such camping adventures which can also be a job creation tool.
Cost of the caravan camping is the cheapest form of enjoying holidays. “Camping is very cheap and gives one access to all the “hotspots” holiday destinations in South Africa. Many people do not know that there are campsites in Kruger National Park where a couple pays R250 a night for a campsite. Now, this is worth it! Money that is saved from accommodation can then be used for activities to entertain loved ones.”
Fikile is married to Mathieu with two beautiful children Lesedi and Leo. She has a BCom (Honours) degree in Statistics from UCT and a MSc degree in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).
This new travel book will be launched on July 7 by Hlatshwayo with support from SANParks, as she talks about her countrywide caravanning adventure.
The “Blacks DO Caravan” book is sold at all Exclusive Books stores throughout South Africa for R225.
Review by Roland Thabo Mpofu