A passion for fossils – Phindi Gumbi
Working in a place that deals with fossils or has fossils has always been Phindi Gumbi’s dream. Her uncle worked at the Sterkfontein Caves when she was a child, and would often take her there on weekends. Working in the Cradle of Humankind after graduating from high school was, as such, a natural choice.
She joined Maropeng in 2005 as a boat ride operator but her love of people and talking prompted her to apply for a position as a tour guide. She got the post, and holds it still today. For her the job means telling the story of a place she loves.
“No day is ever the same. In one group you can have a priest and scientists and you can get involved in hectic debates. I love that,” remarks Phindi.
Asked what differentiates a good guide from an excellent one, Phindi says: “A great guide knows the subject matter, is confident and is not easily offended.”
Phindi Gumbi has been with Maropeng since it opened in 2005
Co-worker Maggie Khoza describes Phindi as a hard worker who is always happy and never argues. Kiki Serokolo, Maropeng’s receptionist, describes Phindi as someone who knows a lot about evolution and a great person to work with.
Working at Maropeng has helped Phindi make lifelong friends, “We have a mix of staff here and I have benefited a lot from the older people that I have befriended. They have given me advice about a lot of things. I am getting married soon and I owe that to some of the advice they have given me.”
There have been other highlights of the job, such as taking Irish singer, songwriter and author Bob Geldof on a tour of Maropeng. “He was a very serious guy but towards the end he laughed. I was happy for putting a smile on his face,” she says.
Phindi is grateful to the management of Maropeng for giving her so many opportunities: “I would like to thank them for their support. They have given me a reason to move forward in life,” she says.
In her spare time Phindi likes being with her family, and watching movies and cricket. In future Phindi says she would like to study palaeoanthropology, become a professor and discover fossils. She would also like to continue being a guide, so that she can tell people about her beautiful country, South Africa.