South Africa - Buntu Tsotsobe, Assistant Troop Scouter for 1st Liwa Scout Troop in Guguletu, was flown to Paris on a trip where he surprised King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden on his 60th Birthday. In 2007 Buntu met King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during a visit to Cape Town as part of the BP Fellowship Fundraising Events. King Gustaf often refers to a young Scout he met during his trip to South Africa who has made a lifelong impression on him. The World Scout Foundation flew Buntu up to the birthday celebrations in Paris so Buntu was able to surprise “The Scouting King”.
We caught up with Buntu and spoke to him about this incredible adventure. “When he visited our Troop those years I didn’t know he was a king,” says a humbled yet smiling Buntu. “My Troop Scouter told me to just be myself and talk to our visitors, so that is what I did. I talked and talked about Scouting. Wow, I don’t know what I said for him to remember me, it’s awesome! In Scouting I have learned to talk properly and be friendly, I guess that is what I did with the King and I must have left a good impression. Every time you talk to somebody, you leave something special behind.”
During the gala evening on Tuesday the 15th of October I presented him with a gift in honour of his time as a King. This was a book written about his time involved in Scouting and the impact he has had on Scouts around the world. He didn’t know I was coming and was very surprised. He said, “the last time I met you, you were so little, but now you are all grown up! It's great to see that after so many years you are still in Scouting!” Then he asked me how my time in Paris was and how it made me feel being here”, explains a very humbled yet excited Buntu. “I was very nervous. I wasn't sure where to start when speaking to a King. At the same time I felt very grateful and honoured to be involved in the event. I had a great time and will never forget it!”
While reminiscing about the day he met the Swedish King, Buntu says” Mapelo, my Troop Scouter, called me aside and said “Just be yourself Buntu”. I was a talkative little boy and so I talked to him like I talk to others. I can’t remember the whole conversation but I remember asking him about Scouting in Sweden and he explained that it was the same as in South Africa. I told him that township Scouting is different because we face many challenges every day. We face violence, hunger and poverty. If I wear my Scouting uniform in Guguletu people respect me. I feel safer because people know Scouting, they know that we are learning good values and are of service to others, like for example when we go and volunteer at old age homes. Often when I walk in my uniform people shout “It’s good that you are a Scout, you will become very successful and a good leader one day!” Other older people shout “I was also a Scout, enjoy the adventure and do good deeds!” It makes me feel proud. Bad people leave us alone when we wear our uniform because they know we are good, I feel safe in it and I like wearing my uniform.”
When asked what he will take back with him from this experience, besides great memories he replied: “I was inspired by the people around me who were all very successful. They all said to me that because of the leadership we learn in Scouting that there was nothing that could stand in my way. I could one day be a member of the foundation if that was what I wanted. It gave me confidence to achieve whatever I set my mind to. “
The King was not the only person who received a surprise. Buntu currently studies business management part-time. The Scout Foundation has now accorded him a Scholarship to finalise these studies. “Another big highlight for me was the scholarship the foundation has given me to study further. I am incredibly grateful for all the kind people at the dinner and for what Scouting in general has done for me.”
More information: SCOUTS South Africa, PR Natasha Kayle, +27 (0) 73 127 93 56, firstname.lastname@example.org