We ask Motswari Private Game Reserve’s Assistant General Manager Godfrey Mathebula to tell us about his life and work
How did you get to where you are now?
I was born on Java, owner Paul Geiger’s original property, where my parents looked after the camp. As a boy, I helped my dad with jobs such as watering the grounds and collecting firewood. Later, Paul Geiger taught me how to use tools and do handy work around the camp. The Geiger family supported me through school and gave me a job in the workshop, where I quickly worked my way up to Manager at the age of 23. I began to study guiding and management, scoring 90 per cent in my first FGASA exam. I have since achieved my Nature Level 3, advanced rifle handling, trails guide and my SKS (Special Knowledge and Skills – Birding), and have been promoted to Assistant General Manager. I have worked at Motswari for 15 years.
What is an interesting fact about yourself?
I am passionate about birds – I listen to bird calls instead of music! Sometimes people think there are birds trapped in my house, but it’s just the sounds.
What made you want to work in the hospitality industry?
To meet different people from different parts of the world and understand their culture.
What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Friendly, gentle and passionate… I hope!
What have you done to make your mark at Motswari?
I have always shared my passion with guests and done all I can to make them want to return to Motswari. We have a lot of return guests!
What exciting projects have there been recently?
We recently launched the Motswari book, The Story of Motswari, a great selection of photos and information about the lodge. I have my own page! We’ve also completed some very positive renovation work, so everything is looking very fresh. We’ve also had a world-famous pianist perform at Motswari and we used this performance to raise money and awareness of the rhino situation.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
Talking to guests. Apparently I talk too much, but I love hearing about the different lives that pass through Motswari and how excited people are to see the animals that live in this reserve.
Are there any real characters at the hotel?
There are lots of characters and they all bring something different to the team.
Do you have a favourite dish at Motswari?
As long as it’s in a cake, I love it!
What is an interesting fact about the lodge that is not very well known?
Motswari in Tswana means to ‘’keep and conserve’, which we have tried to do for 40 years as a family.
When is your favourite time of the year in the reserve?
The whole year is great but I especially like winter; I don’t like to wear shorts and it gets very hot in summer!
If you could change three things in the industry, what would they be?
I would like guests to stay longer so I can get to know them better. I would increase traversing ground; we have enough land, but it’s always good to have more! And I would introduce late-night game drives.
If you had a super-power what would it be and why?
To be able to fly, so I could understand my birds even more!
What item do you always take with you when travelling?
Pen to write with.
What are your hobbies?
Birding, stargazing and game viewing. Watching animals in their natural habitat is very exciting and I can see things today that I have never seen before… even after all this time.
What is the best advice you recall?
To be positive and focused.
What is your motto in life?
There is no shortcut to success in life.
Godfrey is Assistant General Manager at Motswari Private Game Reserve www.newmarkhotels.com/accommodation/game-reserves/motswari-private-game-reserve
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