Life is Like a Kudu Horn – Margaret Jacobsohn’s conservation memoir is filled with insight and anecdotes from start to finish
Life is Like a Kudu Horn is a book that will make you reflect and deliberate.
Cape Town journalist-turned-researcher Margaret Jacobsohn swapped city life for a remote Ovahimba settlement on the edge of Namibia’s liberation war. What she experienced shook her world view and changed the way she thought about people and nature – and highlighted our modern deficiency in ecological intelligence.
Drawn into the warmth and richness of rural community life, and revelling in vast Namibia’s ‘gloriously unclad geology – a country that wears its skeleton in the outside’, Margaret became a Namibian. For the past 30 years she has been part of a team that pioneered an African way of doing wildlife conservation – an approach that was regarded as lunatic in the ’80s but which is today mainstream and demonstrably successful. This work has won some of the world’s top environmental awards.
Her story is both serious and funny – the conflicts and mishaps, the triumphs and breakthroughs, and what it takes to break paradigms while working in remote, inaccessible places, including becoming involved (reluctantly) in a Himba-owned, award-winning safari company.
Passionate about community-based action, Margaret sees the challenges of community conservation work differing only in scale and content from the international challenges we face today – whether this be political corruption, plastic pollution of our oceans or the growing gap between the super wealthy and the poor. They all require for people to reach consensus, manage conflicts, be willing to change their attitudes and then translate plans and decisions into action.
‘Margaret Jacobsohn seemed destined to never fit into comfortable urban society. Instead she headed for the wilds of Namibia and, together with the legendary Garth Owen-Smith, co-founded one of the world’s most successful conservation projects. This is a wild life written as alluringly as a novel – and what a life! Margaret Jacobsohn is one of the heroes of community-based conservation in Namibia and an elegant writer with great heart.’ – Don Pinnock
‘Life Is Like a Kudu Horn is destined to be a classic in the annals of African conservation: It is that rare thing – a book both rich in history and information, and an immensely elegant piece of writing. Margie Jacobsohn’s vital and often unsung role in the development of community-based wildlife conservation in Namibia and Africa unfolds in the pages of this beautifully told story.’ – Tony Weaver
About the author
Dr Margaret Jacobsohn is a Namibian writer, anthropologist and community-based conservation specialist. She is an authority on the social organisation and cultural economy of the semi-nomadic Ovahimba people of Namibia and Angola. Apart from numerous articles and book chapters on aspects of community-based conservation, she is the author of Himba: Nomads of Namibia (Struik, 1990). She has published short fiction, including a story in Jacana Media’s 2011 African Pens collection. Margaret has won some of the world’s top conservation awards for her work, including the US Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa for grassroots environmental activists (jointly with Garth Owen-Smith), the United Nations Global 500 Award, WWF Netherlands’ Knights of the Order of the Golden Ark and the Cheetah Conservation Foundation’s Special Conservation Award.