A man too important not to mention in the story of Zuka Private Game Reserve and Africa Foundation is Robin James.
1999 was an important year for Africa Foundation and its early history; the first significant endowment was negotiated by Robin James. Rob undertook Africa Foundation from inception, as the steadfast Chairman of the UK Board of Trustees of Africa Foundation UK until his death in 2016. Similarly, Rob’s wife Judy James has served Africa Foundation unswervingly throughout this time, donating and engaging with annual trips to Africa and numerous communities as well as dedicating time to her role as a Trustee of Africa Foundation UK.
In recognition of Rob’s contribution and character, the Robin James Award was created. His role in the life of Africa Foundation is described in this excerpt from Dave Varty’s speech, delivered in May 2017, at the celebration of 25 years of Africa Foundation, and the inaugural Robin James Awards.
« Its first donor, and lifelong trustee, was a wonderful gentleman called Robin James, whom we are here today to honour. It was Robin’s vision and influence which brought us the Rural Investment Fund which ultimately became the Africa Foundation.
Robin was a gentleman to his core – soft spoken, ethical and deeply committed to conservation and the possibilities of social upliftment of rural communities.
It was my great fortune to have had a chance to work with him during the early days of establishing Phinda and it was through Robin’s connection to an anonymous donor that set in motion the establishment of the Africa Foundation. For 25 years, under Robin’s watchful eye, a multitude of community based conservation and social services projects were started. »