Meeting Victor Mokoena is like feeling the sun on your face after a few rainy days. The man has energy to spare and a megawatt smile. He is the Tourism Manager for the Northern Region of SANPARKS (Golden Gate) and the Chairperson of the Clarens Tourism Forum (CTF).
Born in Clarens in 1980, he is a loyal and committed Claranite. He attended the Clarens Combined School from Grade 1 to Grade 12. When I asked him about his first job, he proudly talks about the years that he was a gardener in the village, earning R12 per week. Although he is quick to point out that the money was not what excited him about the job – it was the doorstop sandwiches that he got from his employers that kept his motivation high.
Mr Mokoena Senior was a respected community leader with only a Std 6 level of formal education. Victor credits his father with teaching him about leadership and to this day Victor strives to meet the challenge his father gave him of being a better man than he – by touching more lives. The lessons in leadership have already paid off handsomely as Victor was awarded the SANPARKS CEO’s Award for Leadership in 2012.
The law’s loss is Clarens’ gain as Victor wanted to study law and had been accepted at UCT, when lack of funds scuttled that dream. He did have a job as a waiter at the Street Cafe (graduating from the role of gardener to car washer to waiter) and diligently plied his waiting craft in an effort to accumulate enough funds to pay for his tertiary education – and that of his brother, who now holds a B.Comm Accounting degree from the UFS and works in the UK.
Victor attended the Qwa Qwa campus of the UFS and graduated with a degree in B Comm Management. He was due to attend his graduation ceremony – something he had looked forward to when his father passed away. Not willing to allow his dream to be deferred for long, he managed to arrange to graduate the following year. The personal sadness did not end there. Victor had an interview set up with Sanparks at 9am on 31 August. His mother passed away at 7am that morning. Victor attended the interview and secured himself the position of Camp Manager of the Basotho Cultural Village. The man is determined.
Victor has scaled 10 levels of posts within SANPARKS within the last 8 years and when asked about the secret of his success, he smiles and states that there is no secret, just hard work. I think that charm and an ease in engaging with all he comes into contact with is part of his ‘secret’.
The driving force behind the commitment and hard work is the passion for unlocking minds, causing people to see things differently. Victor mentors colleagues and youth groups. He is a public speaker par exellance and loves to tell the stories that make people sit up and think.
This philosophy he brings to his position as Chairperson of the CTF. The CTF is largely a behind -the -scenes organisation, laying the groundwork of promoting the Clarens area by aggressive marketing of the village and surrounds. Victor and his exco work tirelessly attending travel and tourism shows countrywide, engaging with the media for exposure, honing the strategy to make Clarens a destination.
‘Tourism is nothing else but spending money on experiences’, says Victor. Within the next 5 years Victor hopes to have joined Clarens Upper and Kgubetswana as a unit within the CTF. And to grow the tourism business to Clarens and the area. To this end the CTF is attending all the travel and tourism shows in the country with one aim in mind – get more people to visit Clarens and experience it. The CTF has been very instrumental in the promoting of the area and has been recognised by SANPARKS as Business Partner of the Year for 2013. This award highlights the symbiotic relationship that is inherent within the area surrounding Clarens.
We are very fortunate to have, as a son of Clarens, a man who is the change he wants to see and is a living example of the Zen philosophy of being in the moment and giving life your all. Long may he stay with us.
27th March 2014