It wasn’t easy growing up in South Africa under apartheid. Especially if you were the child of a mixed-race marriage.

That was exactly the case for Samantha Johnson, whose white South African mother had married a black man from Mozambique. The situation became so difficult, the family left South Africa when Samantha was six years old and relocated to Botswana. Yet, even there, in a tribal society, they still didn’t feel that they belonged, so they moved once again, this time to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

Her love of travel, the outdoors and wildlife led to her future career as a tour guide.

Samantha’s wealth of knowledge, upbeat spirit, and joy in sharing African culture resonate with the travelers she leads. ┬áSamantha’s excellence at her job was evident from the very first time she led OAT’s Ultimate Africa: Botswana, Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari. During their visit to the Ngamo School in Zimbabwe, the travelers in her small group were so taken by the children, they decided to set up a scholarship fund. And they named it after their esteemed Trip Leader: Samantha Johnson. “It has changed my life to be able to give back to the children, even though it’s not out of my own pocket,” Samantha says. “I feel honored.”