Brian Connell is a self-described Ethologist. You might wonder what that is, none of the grade five, six or seven children at Hillcrest Primary School knew either. Brian kicked off his talk to them by explaining that
it was the study of animals in their natural habitat, and that this had been his passion in life since he was about the same age as they were.
The occasion was arranged by Just Done Productions together with Mrs Goveia, the Grade 6 LEAP teacher in the LSEN unit of Hillcrest Primary School. This was one of a series of outside speaker opportunities that the Learners look forward to.
Brian presented in a very laid-back, low-key way his history and experiences of elephants, stretching back to his earliest exposure to two of the orphan elephants in Kenya which played soccer with him, and the one which hugged him.
Interspersed between the slides of the various wonderful photographs which Brian has taken over the years, were infographics and diagrams, so that while the learners were engaged with the story-telling they learnt a lot about the actual physiology and behavioural patterns of these great animals without even realising that they were doing so.
A passion for Africa, its people and its wildlife led me to place where I made a home and lived a life that few could imagine. A place whose stories are told in this book about the trials, tribulations, excitement and heartbreak that remains close to my heart. It’s about a place of peace.
— Brian Connell
A fascinating and moving read, brimful of memorable anecdotes, with insight, wisdom, humour, and bursting with knowledge about Africa.
It's also much more than the story of the creation of Nokuthula - the Place of Peace - ostensibly a wilderness bush-camp where the author aimed to run photographic workshops. What comes across so powerfully is Brian Connell's indivisible bond with Africa in all its complexities - land, wildlife and people.
It's a story of friendship and love, loss and sadness, written with a conviction and passion that shines out of the pages. And it's the story of the meeting of minds and souls - Brian Connell's and Msomi's, but also that of the young ranger, Robert, to accomplish between them something rich and very special. A marvellous book.
— Beverley Birch
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