BE­HIND THE SCENES

For her story about bushveld camps in the Kruger Park in go! #145, Esma Marnewick in­ter­viewed Christo Knox, man­ager of Shimuwini Bushveld Camp. Christo has since passed away.

go! - - Ed’s Letter -

Meet­ing new peo­ple is often the best part of be­ing a travel writer and some of those peo­ple leave a last­ing im­pres­sion. You might al­lo­cate 15 min­utes for a chat be­cause you have 10 other things to do, but be­fore you know it, hours have passed and you’re still talk­ing. Christo Knox was one such per­son: friendly, en­thu­si­as­tic and gen­uinely in­ter­ested in oth­ers. He told me about grow­ing up in the Kruger Park, the wed­dings and other func­tions hosted at Shimuwini and the ele­phants, lions and leop­ards the guests come to see. When I was back at the of­fice in Cape Town, I sent Christo a few more ques­tions via e-mail. He seemed like the kind of per­son who would re­spond im­me­di­ately, so I was sur­prised when I still had not heard from him two weeks later. I sent an­other e-mail and still got no re­sponse. When I phoned, a col­league said he was ill. I as­sumed he had a cold or some­thing sim­i­larly in­nocu­ous and asked when would be a good time to speak to him. A few days later, I got a call from an un­known num­ber. It was Franci, Christo’s wife. She told me that Christo had stage-four lym­phoma and was un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy ev­ery third week. He was awake at that mo­ment and would try to an­swer my ques­tions. I couldn’t be­lieve it. Christo was 47 years old. I’d spo­ken to him only two months be­fore and he had been healthy. Franci and I kept in con­tact. She sent me mes­sages ev­ery now and then to tell me how Christo was do­ing. On Fri­day 20 July, I got a What­sApp from her: Christo had de­vel­oped cere­bral malaria. To­gether with the chemo, it was too much for his body. He had died the pre­vi­ous day. She asked if I could send her the pho­tos I’d taken of him for the ar­ti­cle. I did that, and I also sent her the voice record­ing I’d made of our in­ter­view in which Christo talks about Franci and their two sons, and how it was di­vine in­ter­ven­tion that had brought them to­gether. At mo­ments like this, you re­alise yet again that you should treasure ev­ery mo­ment with the peo­ple who cross your path. It may be the last time you see them. Thanks for the chat, Christo.

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