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BLACK LION
Alive in the wilderness

“This is a remarkable story … poetic and beautifully written. It goes to the heart of the meaning of ecological literacy and that which comes with it  - a profound sense of interdependence and belonging in the world … a world that we have long forgotten and long for. — Dr Ian McCallum author of Ecological Intelligence

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Jonathan Ball Publishers

ISBN: 9781776191284

ebook: ISBN 978177619129

icon edition: ISBN: 978177619148

October 2021

Hard back/ Paperback/ ebook

Black Lion: Alive In The Wilderness

Sicelo Mbatha and Bridget Pitt

Wilderness guide Sicelo Mbatha shares lessons learnt from a lifetime’s intimate association with Africa’s wildest nature.

Black Lion begins in rural South Africa where a deeply traumatic childhood experience – he witnessed his cousin being dragged away by a crocodile – should have turned Sicelo against the surrounding wilderness. Instead, he was irresistibly drawn to it. As a volunteer at Imfolozi Nature Reserve, close encounters with buffalo, lion, elephant and other animals taught him to ‘see’ with his heart and thus began a spiritual awakening.

Drawing from his Zulu culture and his own yearning to better understand human’s relationship to nature, Sicelo has forged a new path, disrupting the conventional approach to nature with an immersive, respectful and transformative way of being in the wilderness. Both memoir and philosophical reflection, Black Lion - co-written with environmentalist Bridget Pitt - is his brilliant and profound account of life as a wilderness spiritual guide.

As humanity hurtles into the anthropogenic 21st century, Black Lion is an urgent reminder of just how much we need wilderness for our emotional and spiritual survival.

Praise for Black Lion Alive in the Wilderness

“This is a remarkable story … poetic and beautifully written. It goes to the heart of the meaning of ecological literacy and that which comes with it  - a profound sense of interdependence and belonging in the world … a world that we have long forgotten and long for. — Dr Ian McCallum author of Ecological Intelligence

“This lyrical and heartfelt book helps to fill a yawning gap in African natural history prose. The overwhelming majority of such books have been written by white authors, underscoring a wide cultural divide. [It]  brings a sorely needed framework to the discourse on African conservation. It is also a delightful read, with plenty of outdoor adventure and hair-raising encounters with wildlife.  A satisfying journey into the wild, indeed." Ed Stoddard, Daily Maverick

Every once in a while we come across a book that takes a special place in our bookshelf! BLACK LION is one such read. It feels so good to be warmly invited on a journey through the magical wilderness of our own motherland! We are reminded of the unique spiritual experiences through Sicelo Mbatha’s powerful voice. I’m so grateful that he and Bridget Pitt afforded us this opportunity to also feel “Alive in the wilderness” as we fly on the wings of imagination. Siyabonga Kakhulu. Dr. Gcina Mhlophe - Doyenne of South African story-telling.

 

"I was moved to tears by the story of wilderness guide Sicelo “Black Lion” Mbatha,  I hate crying and seldom do.... But reading Mbatha’s book really touched a nerve. If I had my way, I’d make every single person in the world read it. Specially those at COP26. Please read it; it’s beautiful and as soul-restoring as a good laugh" Lindsay Slogrove Saturday Star

“This book gave me a crash course in living and dying. And, more importantly, how to do them well.” — Aspasia Karras, Sunday Times 

Mbatha brings a fresh perspective and finds common ground among the various cultures, even those separated from him by great distance. He writes with honesty and deep passion.  Suroor alikhan Talking about Books

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