Q&A with the Founder of Nyayo Magazine, Gemma D’Souza
Updated: Jul 9, 2021
What is the meaning behind Nyayo?
The word Nyayo in Swahili translates to footprints. Not only does the magazine follow the physical footprints of safari guides – across the continents’ savannahs, forests, and open plains – but it also follows their emotional footprint.
Our emotional footprint is what we contribute psychologically and socially to one another. No matter how long you spend with your safari guide, their emotional footprint – often imbued with kindness, passion and courtesy – will undoubtedly leave its mark on your heart. It is in that spirit of gratitude that Nyayo was created – a magazine dedicated entirely to them.
What is your background, and what made you start Nyayo?
I have always been a traveller at heart, and with Africa in my blood and roots, it’s definitely somewhere that holds a special place in my heart. My dad – my biggest inspiration and role model in life – is from Kenya, so the way he spoke about the country, the landscape, and the people always resonated with me. I’ve worked in the safari industry since I graduated from university, and my current job is selling high-end safaris for a luxury travel company.
I’ve travelled extensively around East and Southern Africa in both my professional and personal life, and every time I visited, I would fall in love a little more with the energy, the positivity, and the passion of the local people. The life of a safari guide or a ranger is not an easy one, but do you ever see them without a smile? Very often, the answer is no. I started to write stories about these local people and realised there was very few places to share them. That’s when I started Nyayo.
What is it about safari guides that are so special?
In all honestly, I think they are the most important part of an African safari. Of course the wildlife is second-to-none – it’s regarded the best continent in the world for wildlife experiences. However, wildlife photography and documentaries give the wildlife a huge amount of limelight and, in my opinion, there’s a disproportion between highlighting the wildlife of Africa, and the people of Africa.
Safari guides connect you to the wildlife in their country and, ultimately, hold it in their hands to make or break your safari dreams. It takes far more than an official stamp to make someone a great safari guide – the guiding has to be real. Animal facts, tracking skills and competent driving can all be learnt, but charming storytelling and sincere companionship is something that comes naturally only to the very best safari guides.
I can’t quite explain in words how incredible these safari guides and rangers are. Not only do they protect Africa’s vulnerable wildlife, but they bring it to life for us on safaris. Every single guide has legendary passion, inspiring enthusiasm, and never-ending knowledge – something you just don’t see every day.
What does the Nyayo Collection look like?
We’ve grown so much over the last two years – it’s so exciting (and quite surreal). Each volume of Nyayo Magazine is based on a country. We launched volume 1 (Tanzania) in September 2019, volume 2 (Kenya) in May 2020, and more recently, volume 3 (Zambia) in June 2021. All three volumes have been a huge success and I’ve been so overwhelmed with the amount of love and support it’s received. From this, I’ve got nothing but enthusiasm and motivation to produce more editions. Botswana, South Africa, Uganda, Zimbabwe… they are all on the list to do next, but we want to take our time and make sure each edition improves with quality and content.
I always get asked, which is your favourite edition? Typically, I can’t decide. I love them all in different ways. I have a strong connection with volume 1 (Tanzania) because it was ‘my first baby’. I think the content in volume 2 (Kenya) is my favourite because it has a lot more depth behind it. There is a lot more conservation-focused articles, and an insight into the protection of the two last northern white rhinos. And then of course Zambia which is the latest edition which I am just in love with. Zambia’s front cover (featuring Benson Kanyembo from Conservation South Luangwa) is my favourite out of the three covers. It’s very empowering.
What made you choose Zambia, over other countries for the latest volume?
Our shortlist was comprised of Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Uganda. It isn’t an easy process deciding which country to do each edition on because, in my opinion, they are all so special in their own way. A big part of my decision was the team at Discover Zambia. I’ve travelled and safari-ed in Zambia myself, so I didn’t know how special it was, but my very first conversation with Chilalo made me realise it was the country to showcase for volume 3. Zambia is home to the largest population of leopards in Africa, the mighty Victoria Falls, and the birthplace of the famous walking safari. With beautiful destinations like the North and South Luangwa National Park, the Lower Zambezi National Park, Kafue National Park, and many more, I was instantly excited to unwrap some incredible stories. And Discover Zambia made it happen, with so many useful introductions and suggestions from the team. Thank you, guys!
What stories are included in this edition?
We have so many incredible stories – highlighting some phenomenal guides, rangers, camps, and conservation projects. The ranger on the front cover is called Benson and his story is certainly one of the most incredible in this volume. Benson spent his life on the frontline. He had dedicated more than 25 years taking down some of Zambia’s most notorious wildlife criminals. But in 2017, Benson was wrongly accused of murder and, in 2017, he ended up under the same roof as the wildlife traffickers and poachers he personally put away.
We include the story of Lady Liuwa – the last lioness in the Liuwa Plain National Park. We speak to one of Time + Tide’s guides about the iconic lioness, and how much of an impact she made on the national park. We shine a light on the tranquility and amazing game viewing in the Lower Zambezi National Park – with articles from Tusk & Mane and Chiawa Safaris. Of course the South Luangwa has a strong focus in this volume, with stories about photography hides, the carmine bee-eaters, and of course, the famous walking safari. Volume 3 is over 110 pages long – I couldn’t stop writing.
Order your copy and see for yourself!
To order your copy of Nyayo Magazine, head to our website – www.nyayomagazine.com/buy