So there we were atop Table Mountain. It was cold, windy as hell and the rain thrashed down. But there she was, adamant that to do her Instastory and to tell everyone what Mzansi girl was up that very afternoon on Table Mountain. Chuckling and smiling despite the downpour, she invited people to follow her adventures around the city. The miserable weather was not going to get her down and somehow she still managed to inspire those watching ( me included from the shelter of the balcony) and encourage many to follow her. This is how I remember Merushka Govender, known to so many as Mzansi Girl. Vibrant, smiling, excited to do what was on her agenda, unwavering in her passion to get people exploring.
So what a shock it was when I discovered that one of our friends, comrades in arms of travel blogging and one of South Africa’s original digital storytellers lost her battle with terminal cancer. Because really, how is it possible when someone is so young, so vivacious, so filled with pure life and her abundance of good spirit?
When I started this blog between 8 and 9 years ago, Merushka was one of the very few other South African travel blogs that existed. Even the term ‘blog’ was very new on the scene. We were amongst those first mythical creatures dubbed ‘ digital nomads’, bloggers who wondered around with no real home, no real income and ‘no real’ career to be seen.
We were there at the very beginning when no brands, hotels, tourism boards or companies imagined that we needed to be paid, back in the day when we were happy with only free stays and other fun things. And back when beautifully, our little original travel blogging community and the friendships forged from this was one we nurtured. Together we travelled, did campaigns together, fought for bloggers to get paid for our skills and creating and nurtured our community- lifting each other up, aknowledgding our different strengths and singing each others praises in various areas. The incredible community we share as travel bloggers in South Africa has Merushka to thank for this in so many ways. She encouraged tourism boards to work with us, persuaded some that our stories were worth sharing.
So it’s for this reason and so many others that I can say that Merushka found what she loved doing and she did it everyday of her life. She was yes woman and never said no to travel, to a party, to a festival or even a night when she would go without sleep. For her, life needed to be lived to the full, stories needed to be told, colorful images of Africa and its people needed to be shared. And she really was one of the first people to share that love and passion for African travel, hence her hashtag #afritravel. She laughed loudly with her whole being, unbridled in her joy in that moment, unapologetic in the way she embraced the world and jumped her way through life.
We were some of the lucky ones really. The ones who got to walk through this crazy, beautiful thing we call a career, lucky enough to be inspired by her adventures, her stories and the way she did life and also lucky enough to do what we love. Merushka is really one of those people who is truly unforgettable in every way.
I can’t even imagine the number of people whose lives were changed or altered in some small way by meeting her and for a moment getting to share her bright light. Travel blogging, storytelling and Africa travel will never be the same without you Meru. Thank you for lighting the way…I hope your last adventure is the best yet.
To read about her incredible adventures, visit mzansigirl.com