Trading in East Africa

In a delightful episode of this series (Journeys to the End of the Earth), the photographer, David Adams, joins a crew of dhow sailors as they sail along the East African coast trading from port to port. They have no compass nor maps to rely on, and sail without motor and electricity – just using the wind on a hand built teak boat. It’s another example of humans banding together on an expedition completely confident in their own abilities to navigate, survive and trade

What stood out to me in this example was that the traders (about 16 of them) on board came from a wide range of ages from 20 to 82, with the captain somewhere in the middle, being 65 and boasting almost 60 years of sailing experience. I thought back to my experiences in various endeavours and projects. In most work scenarios, the age groups have been on average fairly young. Indeed most people at the age of 65 are long since retired (implication: no longer needed!), which in many ways is a shame.

There seemed to be something significant or reassuring about having considerably older people on the voyage. This might be either the experience they bring (situational or emotional) or the shared reduction of risk taking (knowing that not everyone can take the same physical risks). No doubt the elders would be a source of fabulous stories too.

In that moment, I wished I could be part of a project where we bring together such a spectrum of ages. And I certainly want to be able to be living life to the fullest at 82 as well!