by Laiton Mkandawire, Patsaka Correspondent
Most people know the late Jamusi MacKenzie only as a Professional Hunter and Guide, but he was a lot of other things to many people.
I first met Jamusi MacKenzie in the 1990s when we were both greenhorns in the Tourism and Hospitality sector. I was in the hospitality division, in Food and Beverage Management at a then thriving Cutty Sark Hotel. Jamusi was a novice houseboat captain at Kariba Tiger Safaris at the old GDI harbour, below another then thriving Kariba institution, the Lake View Inn. He was stationed on the Manzi houseboat. The company had three houseboats – Manzi, Moto and Moya. Jamusi was under the direct supervision of captain Flat Mugwagwa.
Being youthful and restless,Jamusi left for greener pastures. I got to know him better after my switching from the hospitality sector to the safari business with Mukurumanzi Boat Charters, Safaris and Tours. We were both stationed at Marineland. He was then captaining the Little Mermaid houseboat.
We then took our driving lessons together under the tutelage of our current MP, Isaac MacKenzie and the late Chamu Ndaza (May his soul rest in peace).Despite the precincts provided by a limited academic career, Jamusi MacKenzie took the bull by its horns quite literally and entered the gargantuan game in the hunting sector as a learner Professional Hunter. It was a sector not populated by many blacks then and its examination process reputed to be the most rigorous in Southern Africa.It was a sector not populated by many blacks then and its examination process reputed to be the most rigorous in Southern Africa. He failed at the first endeavour but did not lose heart. He kept failing until Lady Luck smiled on him.
He then went under the wing of another groundbreaking hunter, Evance E. Makanza. Makanza was a local Science teacher at Nyamhunga High School, who couldn’t resist the temptation of the bush; abandoning the noble profession to be a Professional Hunter. He is thought to have played a great role in Jamusi’s decision of switching to hunting.
Having qualified as a hunter, Jamusi MacKenzie was not satisfied with seasonal work for established safari operators. He wanted the starring role, not cameo parts in the movie unfolding before him.
He took a daring move and set up his own safari business for which he is best known and shall be remembered for – James Mackenzie Safaris. His company adopted a somewhat funny and yet catchy slogan – “We Walk in the Bush”. It got him the attention he needed.
In recent times Jamusi MacKenzie had relocated his operations to Harare, only coming down to Kariba during peak seasons with clients. He never stopped believing in the quality tourism services Kariba has to offer and continued to market them. Yes, he believed in local tourism as he would also drive down with schools and taking them through the exploits of Kariba. One man who would never miss the yearly Sanganani Expo with branded regalia to market his products and Kariba regardless of not being a member of Kariba Publicity Association.
As amply demonstrated above, Jamusi MacKenzie was a man who rose from humble beginnings. That did not deter his ambition and he built his empire, brick-by-brick.
Some find it queer that he succumbed to a road traffic accident involving his first love, wildlife. Some, particularly those who are opposed to hunting, have termed it poetic justice – the hunter turning the hunted.
However you view his last moments on earth, Jamusi MacKenzie was one of a dying breed of black professional hunters in Kariba and he leaves a void that would be difficult to fill.
One would forgive him for never boasting or abusing the fact that the MacKenzie family has his brothers who are respected in Politics, farming and business circles, Butcher having been chosen as Senator in Kariba ahead of James Gumpo and other Kariba senior politicians, Isaac the current MP who has been CEO Nyaminyami and Brighton who is Kariba Municipality Ward 7 councillor and very active in the fishing industry.
Rest in peace; Jamusi MacKenzie. “We Walk in the Bush”.
You played your part in the drama of life. It was time to exit the stage and get a deserved rest.
Laiton Kandawire is the Managing Consultant (Destination Planner) of Ultimate Leisure Adventures & Essential Necessities Kariba, whose contacts are +263 772 817 733,
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