August is Women’s Month in South Africa. Attention is given to the achievements and contributions of women; and many programs commemorate the 1956 march of 20,000 women on the Union Buildings at Pretoria in protest Pass Laws.
I spent the entire month of August in South Africa doing various presentations, workshops, and discussions with women about leadership roles and navigating careers. While there, I went on absolutely fantastic game drives seeing wonderful animals, and most spectacularly, 4 of the Big 5 Game (leopards, lions, elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo). The leopard was the only one of the Big 5 we did not see, but there were signs leopards were present. The carcass of a wildebeest sat high from the ground, prominently wedged between two branches of a tree. According to Sam, our Game Drive Ranger, only the leopard has the strength and agility to take such a massive kill to the trees.
We had seen several wildebeest on our drives. They are huge animals with long heads, beards and mane, and sloping backs. Although in the antelope family, the wildebeest is not thought to be very attractive. They seem to be made up of body parts of different animals that don’t quite go together. Many think them big and stupid.
At another point on our Game Drive, we came across not one lion, but a whole Pride (a group of lions forming a social unit). There they were in the middle of the road, just as relaxed as they could be- lions, lionesses, cubs! Then I saw him. Off to himself in the brush was a lion having a morning meal of wildebeest.
What was it with these wildebeest? Why were they such easy prey? First the carcass of the wildebeest in the tree, and now this, a lion having wildebeest for breakfast.
Ranger Sam helped us understand how wildebeest became “Easy Kill”, especially for lions on the reserve:
- Every Pride has established methods of “easy kill” that are passed on from generation to generation within the Pride
- At this particular Game Reserve, when lions first arrive, an electrified fence confines them to a certain area
- Once released to roam a much larger area, the lions remember lessons of the electrified fence
- They actually drive prey (like the wildebeest) into the fence, creating an “easy kill”.
I thought about unwritten rules being passed from generation to generation. I thought about women and people of color not understanding and being driven into electrified workplace fences – “easy kill”. I wondered what stopped the wildebeest from learning lessons of the electrified fence and passing those lessons on to other wildebeest.
We do not have to be like the wildebeest – “Easy Kill”. We can and must model the ways of the lion Pride and pass on the lessons of the workplace jungle from one generation to the next. Each one must teach one! Become a mentor today!
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