Someone recently remarked that “I was born to do what I do” – which makes this column even harder to write.
I grew up in the dunes of Namibia, on the West Coast, down the rocky “roads” of Lesotho and in the eastern Free State, deep in Hilux country. My love for languages and literature meant that writing was an almost obvious direction after matriculating, and at university, photography became a hobby. This was accompanied by a keen interest in engineering, specifically mechanical. I also grew up in a family obsessed with vehicles, even if they didn’t realise it themselves. There was never any rugby on our TV – only motorsport and a bit of boxing.
I met Sarel van der Merwe when I was a very young girl next to the rally tracks, and my brother and I learnt to drive at an early age. When other kids were playing “I spy” on long road trips, the thousands of kilometres we travelled in our bright blue Nissan Hi-Rider were whiled away with a game of spot-the-manufacturer. You got points for being the first to yell out the make of vehicle approaching on the horizon. There were bonus points if you got the model as well.
Not until the comment was made, however, did I realise how obvious a path it was for me to go from plaaskind to off-road motoring writer. When offered my first, unpaid “freelance” position as a scribe, I was more excited about getting something published than about hiding in the dust of a farm outside Bloemfontein to photograph Hannes Grobler blasting past me – sideways, of course.
But this all changed very quickly, and in a roundabout but I suppose predictable way, I got to Leisure Wheels, my happy place for two years. And now, I’m making my way out of it.
Why on earth would I leave the world that I love – the readers, colleagues, racers and gearboxes? The answer, in a nutshell, is comfort zones.
Every now and then a door is opened that leads down an unfamiliar path so far outside our comfort zone that it would be easy to simply shut it and carry on. But, as I was shutting that door, I remembered the words of my father when I was growing up: “Don’t always go with the flow. Be different as often as you can. If you don’t make your own choices, life will make them for you.”
And so I pushed back the door, and will be starting at a young science and technology communications agency in Johannesburg.
The difficulty in making my decision was compounded by the amazing people around me. I owe a big thank you to my editor, Jannie Herbst, colleagues Danie Botha and Leilani Basson, and to my colleague and sidekick for the last two years, GG van Rooyen. Being young in the 4×4 world is not the easiest task in the world, and I don’t think there was ever a moment where I didn’t feel 100% supported by my co-drive. The same goes to the entire Ramsay Media team, and our wonderfully engaging readers. People always say readers make the game worth it – and it’s really true. To those of you who have kept in touch, issue after issue, please continue to do so. Hearing your enthusiasm for off-roading, the solid axles, the articulation issues and the wide open spaces of Africa is one of the best things about it, and I wouldn’t exchange that for any other area of motoring.
Our new website will be up and running shortly – something which I’m very proud to have been a part of – and I’ll always have a foot in the motoring world. Our digital team have done an amazing job on the project, and I’m about as proud of it as a an off-roader is of their new 4×4. Enjoy it, dear readers – and make it yours. We built it for you, and your feedback is essential to making it work.
Happy off-roading! Catch you on a dune, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
Anzet du Plessis began at Leisure Wheels in January, 2012 as a motoring writer. She quickly took up the website as project, and was promoted to Web & Social Media Editor shortly thereafter. She worked as travel and motoring writer, photographer and fleet manager at the magazine. She leaves the magazine at the end of November 2013 to join Proof Communication Africa.