Safari is a Swahili word meaning to travel away from home. These days it’s come to mean any exploratory experience and enjoyment. The word distills my heritage, my work and Safari&Living where readers can explore with me and hopefully enjoy.
I’m Bev Tucker, a lifestyle journalist and editor. I started out as an intern on a daily newspaper, and later earned a Masters degree in Journalism & Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. I’ve worked as a columnist and have been writing about beautiful destinations, restaurants, private homes, wildlife reserves, galleries, gardens and remarkable people for the last 20 years for numerous print and digital titles.
My family roots are Scottish and English, transplanted to and dotted around southern and central Africa from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town. Though I’ve travelled a lot and lived in many places, I’m always drawn back to Africa for its unmatched beauty and wonderful people, and because it’s home. I currently live in Ireland with my husband and two ginger con artists we discovered sleeping rough and posing as tomcats. They’ve since wangled their way indoors and taken over our house.
How it all started
My journalism career began in an old fashioned way. Six weeks after packing up my school dorm, I presented myself at the reception desk of a daily newspaper in a building that smelled of old mahogany. I’m fairly sure there were ceiling fans padding round and round in the vaulted dimness above.
I was directed upstairs to a long room that took up most of the second floor and had windows overlooking the street. Someone named Dawn, who I later learned was a senior writer on a whopping seven hundred a month, showed me my desk. On it crouched a Remington typewriter and a black rotary dial phone.
At 11 am every morning a woman in a blue pinafore faded to watercolour across her bosoms rattled through the newsroom behind a trolley and plonked out cups of tea from an enamel pot whether you asked for it or not. This was comforting because I lived an intern’s otherwise unkempt existence in a bedsitter across from the Arthur Nathan Swimming Baths. I could admire its Edwardian façade in the evening as I leant on the railing of my tiny balcony in the drift of cooking smells from the faintly dodgy neighbours.
The newspaper I worked for was launched in 1850 as The Friend of The Sovereignty and later abbreviated to just The Friend. It was one of South Africa’s oldest dailies and at its height had been an important voice. Among many other fine journalists and editors during its lifetime, it once boasted Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill in its ranks.
In the first weeks, my training consisted of trailing behind a photographer to take down people’s names in the correct order and spelling, and concocting worthy captions. Apparently this qualified me for a promotion to cover mind-numbing municipal council meetings. By the end of the year I’d inched up the lowly rungs to the second least popular beat: day-long marathons in cold courtrooms rancid with weekend stabbings.
I went on to discover a happier fit in the more fragrant world of lifestyle magazines, with some detours into other jobs along the way, but this early foundation stood me in good stead. In my memory of that winter, dust motes float in shafts of amber sun to the clack and slam and ting of the last of the newsroom Remingtons.
I still get people to spell out their names for interviews.