My speaking career has taken me around the world, but my most recent event was hosted in a unique place: Mauritius, an isolated island in the Indian Ocean, well known for its natural beauty, and for being the farewell setting of the last Dodo bird. Mark Twain said of the island, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven.”
While there to speak to Coca Cola, Ellie and I hiked Le Morne Mountain, a basaltic monolith at 1824’ above the swirling blue-green-turquoise sea. Le Morne, we learned, is a place steeped in history and cultural significance. During the 19th century, escaped slaves used the mountain as a hiding place. When slavery was abolished in Mauritius, local officials scoured the mountain, ready to share the news with the runaway slaves. The slaves feared that the officials were coming to capture them, and tragically leapt to their deaths from the top of the mountain, never realizing their freedom.
Our hike included the sighting of a Madagascar hedgehog, the sounds of kite surfers zipping across the waters below, and the relief that we really didn’t need the things that others insisted we needed: a guide, the key to the gate, or the ropes that were no longer in place. We did just fine finding our own summit freedom.
It’s always exciting to enhance my view of the world through the people to whom I deliver my message. The Coca Cola West African Business Unit included leaders from countries across Africa, including Mali, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Ghana, Niger, Congo, Nigeria, Senegal, and Morocco.
The Nigerians I met (a country of 186 million people) were celebrating a win at the World Cup while a leader from Rwanda discussed the wonder of their Mountain gorillas, which share 98% of their DNA with humans!