Boat ride operator rides the waves to success – Anna Magobolo

  • May 08, 2009

By Miliswa Sitshwele


Blue and yellow lights flash across her face, the engine roars in the background and she signals to her guests to hold on. Anna Magobolo, one of Maropeng’s boat ride operators, is preparing to take visitors on an amazing trip through time. 

What makes it all the more amazing is that Anna used to have a phobia about water. She never thought she would be able to swim, let alone be qualified to rescue people. But after five years of experience at Maropeng, she confidently checks her boat and leads the journey down the underground river.

“Now, when there is an emergency, I am the first to jump into the water and fix whatever needs fixing,” she says. “We had a power failure once and I got into the water with a torch and pushed the boat out of the water. That was a proud moment for me.” 

Anna, previously an HIV/AIDS volunteer at the nearby Hekpoort Community Clinic, says her passion has always been working with people. 


When she first started working at Maropeng, she says, she didn’t know anything about anthropology or the equipment that operates the boat.

“I now know more about how humans came to be and that’s something I never thought I would know about.”

She says she comes to work wearing her uniform so that people can ask her questions about Maropeng.

“I know that if I am wearing this uniform people will ask me more about anthropology, evolution and the work that I do. I am always eager to talk about my job because the more we tell people about it, the more visitors we will get.

“You can tell the person all you want but they have to see, feel and experience Maropeng to understand just what it’s all about.”

One of the most important lessons that she has learnt from her supervisor is about taking the lead and being responsible, she says.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Johan for believing in me and never taking no for an answer. That has taught me to keep trying, no matter how difficult the situation may be. The most important lesson he taught me is that if the manager is not there then you must be the manager.

Anna’s own journey in time has moved her far beyond her fears.

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