A life path through the caves – Reuben Tsime
Reuben Tsime is one of Maropeng’s award-winning tourist guides, but first he was one of its biggest fans.
A resident of nearby Krugersdorp, Reuben has fond memories of visiting the famous Sterkfontein Caves on school tours when he was about 13 years old. He remembers buying books about the caves and archaeology, encouraged by his mother to read and learn.
“My mother read lots of books; the Bible and others. I take this from my mother, although I read very different books. I enjoyed history and debating at school, and my mom thought I would go into politics, but I went a different way,” says Reuben.
He was first employed by Maropeng as a bartender, but when he heard the company was advertising tourist guide positions, he put himself forward.
“I had an advantage over other applicants, because I was interested in these topics and already knew some of the background. I had also trained in public speaking and had self-confidence,” he continues.
Reuben received a West Rand Tourism Award in 2008 in recognition of his excellent skills as a tourist guide, but his career almost hit a stumbling block.
“When I was younger I watched lots of horror movies, including one called Descent, about a cave man living at the bottom of a cave. I kept remembering this when I went into the caves and it scared me, but I am a big man and overcame it. I still won’t go into the caves alone, though,” he admits.
“Reuben was enthusiastic from day one of being a guide. He really enjoys his job, and this can be seen in his work and in the fact that he came third in the guiding division of the West Rand Tourism Awards within a year of becoming a guide,” says Maropeng curator Lindsay Marshall.
Reuben, who also volunteers some of his time to teach evolution to Life Sciences classes in Krugersdorp, says that he is passionate about his job. One of his life dreams is to own a tourism-focused company of his own one day.
“I thought I was going to be the next Tokyo [Sexwale, the politician turned businessman], but this is my field now. We take people back in time, and teach them to hold on to their heritage.”