Lihle Mbokazi is a wilderness guide, conservationist and a passionate advocate for Mother Earth. She has been listening to nature all her life and has recently been further inspired by Earth Jurisprudence.
Raised in the picturesque and challenging foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, Lihle first found her love of nature crossing the Tugela river every morning on her way to school, seeing it swelled by flood or sapped by drought. She grew up listening to nature, learning from it, and it was inevitable that nature and the environment would shape her future.
Becoming involved with several environmental organisations and campaigns during her youth – as well as studying with Dr Ian Player – Lihle then became the first black, female guide to graduate from the Wilderness Leadership School. She has since worked as a guide in various locations – for disadvantaged youth from Port Elizabeth, in KwaZulu-Natal with EarthLore, and she has recently started her own environmental education centre. Her work as a guide is not just a job – it is the path nature has shown her, the way to play her part in the universe:
‘Nature speaks to humans, but they don’t have the time or the opportunity to go out into nature – into the wilderness – and listen to the voice of nature. Once you are out there in nature you realise it; you feel it and you touch it – you feel the pain of what is happening in nature.’
Along with Fassil Gebeyehu and other African leaders, she has attended the Earth Jurisprudence trainings, guided by Liz Hosken and Roger Chennells – learning from the wisdom of nature, thinkers from all traditions and each other out in the wilderness. For Lihle, who has learned from them that ‘all you need to do is be in nature, embrace it and be humbled and listen, and then do what nature asks of you’ – these trainings reinforce the power and wisdom of nature.
The trainings are also an opportunity to share stories, wisdom and struggles with Earth Jurisprudence practitioners from across Africa, building solidarity and strengthening the movement; as Lihle puts it:
‘it is beautiful to know and to realise that as human beings there are others that are struggling as well.
We are not alone.’
By Joseph Lambert
The Gaia Foundation