Harrison Nampaso

Harrison’s Dream: A Journey to Success Starts with the First Step

Harrison Nampaso is a Kenyan, born in 1982 to Maasai parents living in rural Tanzania. During his early years, his mother and father (who were predominantly nomadic pastoralists in East Africa), made the decision to move back to Kenya to pursue their cultural tradition as herders.

At just seven years old, Harrison was fortunate enough to be enrolled in a school – even if it meant walking a distance of eight kilometres every day, for eight good years. The journey to school was familiar – but always unpredictable. Lions, elephants and buffalos – along with the risks brought on by the rainy season – often meant that this young boy was forced to abandon the trek and turn back home, defeated.

It is hard to imagine that in the face of such adversity, Harrison was in fact, the luckiest of seven children; he was the only one who went to school.

At the age of sixteen, Harrison began his progression from childhood to warriorhood; an emotional initiation process, and daring journey into the wilderness, in the way of Maasai culture. Alongside his peers, he spent several months immersed in the bush, living on roasted and boiled oxen meat mixed with traditional herbs.

After successfully finishing primary school, Harrison enrolled at a secondary school; it was the only school in the area, and much to his delight, it offered a boarding facility. “It was my first time in a boarding school and I was so excited”, he recalls. He passed his O Levels in 2002 and then worked in a private clinic for two years.

In January 2005, Harrison arrived at Governors’ Camp with the hope of securing some casual work; there he met the late Patrick Beresford, who told him there were no jobs available. Not one to easily give up, Harrison requested some training in the restaurant. It would appear luck was on his side that day and he commenced a six-week training course not long after.

Harrison grasped the opportunity with both hands and worked especially hard during this period; he proved to be very popular, not only with the camp guests but also with his colleagues. In fact, he was so efficient and eager to do well, that the management nicknamed him The Fastest Waiter in East Africa.

The determination paid off and he was employed on a casual basis in August of the same year. It wasn’t long before he was made a permanent member of the team. For six years Harrison waited on guests in the dining areas, and spent a further two years working as a bar attendant – meaning that the “fastest waiter” was also becoming one of the most experienced.

Alongside F&B training, Harrison was also focusing on becoming a wildlife guide, and never missed the opportunity to guide walking safaris. Since his school days, he had been extremely passionate about the surrounding flora and fauna, and it wasn’t long before he introduced wildlife clubs at Governors’ Camp. Bird-feeding programmes, tree-planting efforts, controlling soil erosion and writing articles on the natural world were just some of the other activities that Harrison found time to initiate, alongside his full-time position. His dedication and enthusiasm for the various conservation efforts saw him appointed as Chairman of the newly created wildlife clubs.

Realising that he found himself immersed in one of the world’s most famous wildlife reserves, and the perfect place to realise his early dreams, Harrison took a course in ornithology and was soon regarded as one of the region’s most knowledgeable birders, regularly guiding guests on bird watching safaris.

In 2009 Harrison was appointed as a Community Liaison Officer – a job that he really enjoyed – especially the opportunities that allowed him to engage and interact with his own community nearby.

Four years later, in 2013 he began a senior managerial training programme, which took three years to complete. During this time, he assisted the camp manager and reception team with their daily duties; it was exactly this kind of responsibility that made Harrison notice a considerable change within his own capacity. He began to say “Yes I can” to everything he was tasked with.

A year and a half later, the responsibilities kept mounting and Harrison continued to embrace the challenges. Regular stints as Relief Manager for both Governors’ Camp and Private Camp proved that he had what it takes to be at top management level, and eventually in 2016, Harrison was confirmed as Camp Manager for Governors’ Camp.

“Working for the Governors’ Camp Collection of award-winning properties is an honour and a dream come true. When I was a kid, I loved everything about nature and meeting new people from different cultures all over the world. The realisation of my childhood dream came true the moment I joined this company”, reflects Harrison.

Climbing the career ladder, all the way from securing an initial chance as trainee in the kitchens many years ago to the position of camp manager today, has not only been a continuous source of motivation for Harrison, but for all other staff across the organisation too.

“I sincerely thank the Executive Management Team for seeing the potential in me and for opening a gap when an opportunity is well deserved. I am happy to see that a number of junior staff have also come through the same ranks and it really inspires me and the rest of the team to know that this is always possible”, says Harrison.

In closing, Harrison shares his thoughts on what it means to be part of a dynamic, ever-evolving company that is a true pioneer of safaris in Africa.

“As Governors’ celebrates its 50th birthday in November this year, I am overwhelmed – not only for the opportunity that I have been given to be an employee, but also for the contributions that this company has made to the communities around them and to the different organisations involved in the conservation of the environment, especially the Mara ecosystem. These efforts have positively impacted thousands of lives within local communities, and we are proud to be working towards an even more sustainable level of tourism every day”.