Staff Profile: Martha's Story

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Meet Martha. At first glance she looks like another top class chef from one of Thornybush Collection's luxurious South African Safari Lodges; but there's more to Martha than meets the eye.

Early Life

Martha Nanana Tjie was born in Belfast, Mpumalanga, where she spent most of her childhood. She was the last born of her siblings and faced the extraordinary hardship of losing her mother at the tender age of 18 months.

Her family soldiered on regardless of the tragedy. Dad took on the responsibility of raising 7 children on his own while her eldest sister stepped in to help as much as she could.

As a youngster, Martha applied herself to her studies at Shalamuka Primary school and Mandondo High school, setting her sights on a career in cookery.

New Beginnings

After school, Martha worked on the Water Project in the Kruger National Park clearing alien vegetation from the environment. She saved all her earnings until she had enough to sign up at the Hospitality and Tourism Academy in Nelspruit where she qualified as a chef.

Upon graduation, Martha worked for several years as a chef at Ntabeni in the Waterberg. She was thrilled to accept a position with Thornybush Collection at Jackalberry Lodge 9 years ago.

Working in Nature

Martha loves working in the wilderness as it gives her the opportunity to entertain her children with tales of animal antics and nature. They love to hear about her favourite animals, the elephants, who come to drink water at the lodge.

However, her most exciting story revolves around a far more clandestine creature.

While preparing a meal over an open fire in the boma one evening, Martha heard a shuffle in the bushes behind her.

She turned to find a young hyena brazenly waiting for her to make a false move and drop some of the meat within grabbing range. Unfazed, Martha continued with her cooking duties, while the hyena waited patiently.

Once everyone had gone to bed, she could still hear the hapless creature searching for scraps and bewailing its bad luck.

Meet the People Behind the Scenes

Today, Martha faces her own challenges as a devoted single mother with 3 children and 1 grandchild. The well-being of her family takes centre stage in her life, closely followed by her love of cooking and her passion for her career.

We are extremely proud of all Martha's accomplishments and delighted to have her working with us.

Book a stay at Jackalberry Lodge and get to meet some of the people, like Martha, who are instrumental in bringing you unforgettable South African safaris.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2018