OBITUARY FOR NTATE BOKANG JACOB NTLHOKI
Jacob was born in Mokhotlong in 1979. He grew up in the Rafalotsane district (which is the location of Molumong Lodge). Like many young boys in Lesotho, he went to school sporadically (at St. James Mission School), the rest of his time being spent looking after his father’s animals at the cattle posts high in the mountains. Here he developed his love of animals.
He later visited his older brother, Phoka whom was working as a horse guide for Steve Black of Khotso Trails. When Steve started a branch of this business at Sani Top, Phoka and Jacob worked for him there. Jacob, though, was an entrepreneur by spirit, and having learned the “ropes”, he decided to start his own pony trekking business based at Molumong Lodge. That was in September 2003, when the Lodge was operated by Derek Alberts who encouraged Jacob.
Drakensberg Adventures’ relationship with Jacob started around about 8 years ago. We were looking to offer longer tours to our clients, and there was a demand for Pony Trekking trips. We chatted with Jacob at Molumong and a long term partnership was born. Since those early days, we have built a solid relationship with Jacob and his team, and have set up innovative pony trekking tours in the area. Jacob has always been reliable, honest and efficient a man of integrity!
Jacob was a true partner in these tours. He arranged the pony trekking part of the trips, setting up the routes and working with villagers to arrange overnight stops. He grew in confidence over the years and his personality and presence were important parts of the experience of clients on these trips. He also trained various members of his family to be guides. Jacob was superb with horses he had real talent with them. He had a knack of matching a horse with a rider, and clients were invariably happy with their riding experience, even if they were complete novices. This is a real achievement!
Jacob was a unique individual, a man with real future vision. When he was approached with an idea, he was always very positive and realistic about what could be done. Our tours have evolved over the years, and have grown to include a number of small service providers in the villages the groups stay at. Jacob’s expertise and vision have thus led to a number of other families entering the tourism industry as small businesses and thriving!
Jacob had grand plans for the future, based on growing his business from the solid foundation he had laid. He saw himself as a Basotho tourism entrepreneur, and was exactly the type of man Lesotho needs right now.
In losing Ntate Jacob, we have lost not only a friend and a visionary individual, but we have lost a whole range of opportunities for the future, opportunities which would no doubt have led to the betterment of Jacob’s community and his country. His passing is a national tragedy, and robs Lesotho of someone who would have continued to build a new and unique way of business, someone who would have helped develop the tourism industry in Eastern Lesotho.
We have lost a business partner but mostly we have lost a friend! We shall miss you greatly, Ntate and say in farewell “tsamaea hantle”.