Please click above to view pics of Sizwe Ndlela and Elliot Bhengu
(Photos : Leigh Willson)
Most readers of these columns, are people who know the meaning of opportunity. Flying, and in the majority of instances, flying internationally, is something we take for granted, so you might ask yourself what the big deal is, when we speak of the excitement we feel at the departure of our four scholarship recipients for 2010.
You have to put yourself in the shoes of a young Zulu from a previously disadvantaged background, to get any kind of an inkling of what it means to visit a strange country. Language and culture are just a few of the issues they have to come to terms with, but most of these guys have never even set foot on an aeroplane, let alone travelled across the seas. As the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th beneficiaries of our international scholarship programme,Elliot Bhengu and Sizwe Ndlela left us this past weekend, with Thabani Nzimande and Prince Mdunjane leaving this next one, for Genesis Green Stud in Newmarket, UK, and Becky Thomas’ Lackland Farm in Florida, USA, respectively.
We have had a long and happy association with Becky Thomas’ outfit over several years, starting out with students who are now senior members of our management team, and Thabani and Prince will be joining a crew heavily involved in the preparation and sale of Ready To Run horses. Elliot and Sizwe team up with the Swinburn family, famed not only for having sold some of Europe’s high priced yearlings over the years, but especially for Walter’s two Derby victories aboard two of the Aga Khan’s greatest horses, Shergar and Sharastani.
While these guys are all rapidly climbing the ranks at Summerhill, they’ve nonetheless had to undergo a mentorship programme of several years in order to get to where they are. Competition for places is tough, and these men have been hand selected for this great moment. Reasonably worldly within the realms of their own territories, they obviously know cities like Durban and Johannesburg, but as little fellows growing up, they would surely never have dreamed of London or Miami.
They leave us with a sense of great pride, and the secure knowledge that while they will have much to learn and experience at the other end, when it gets down to horsemanship, it is they who’ll be sharing the secrets of what only a Zulu stockman can impart.
Of one thing we’re certain. Those that work with them, recruited like ours from across the globe, will be all the richer of knowing these boys.