No Human is an Island

No Human is an Island

During the course of our lives there are two things that must happen at some point or another. These two things must be as much a part of our existence as breathing air.

We must help other people without expecting or receiving material reward. We must accept help from other people without offering or even being able to offer anything in return.

A group of intimate friends, of which I am lucky enough to be a part, is doing just this. We are trying to help by offering Outreach Surfing Lessons to the kids of a local community on the outskirts of the Garden Route.

In return we have been helped in the most mysterious ways possible…

However, we are all so used to paying for help when we need it that we are suspicious of help when it is offered openly and without question.

And rightly so. The world was a scary place until recently when the possibility of change came along.

Change. We cannot quite describe it and yet we all feel it. We cannot name it and yet its manifestations are there for all to see.

An increase in the free exchange of help is one such manifestation of the change that is happening.

It is a trend that is on the increase and cannot be reversed. As ruthless as the rule and manipulation of mankind has been, for as long as we can remember, so this change will prove the pessimist wrong at every corner without fail. The pessimist was born out of the manipulation with which mankind has been enslaved and the change we are speaking of is freeing us from our bondage to age old limitations and manipulative human behaviour.

We thought we knew who and what we are. But now we are beginning an inward journey of discovery where our fears, projections and expectations will no longer limit our abilities like they used to.

The free exchange of help is a side effect of this inward journey during which we will rewrite the old norms of human behaviour.

There is no denying that this journey is taking place as you read this. There is however a choice between taking part in it or missing out on the biggest event in all of recorded history. Don’t fool yourself by declaring that the journey is not real, because all you have done is chosen not to take part.

Pessimists the world over had us believe that poverty and malnutrition exist because there is constant and world wide scarcity. And look where our journey have taken us! It is now common knowledge, and a verifiable fact, that enough food is produced annually to feed more than 12 billion people. Isn’t it beautiful to know that we already produce enough food to adequately feed every man, woman and child. Twice.

What has changed? Our perception. Scarcity is no longer seen as inevitable. It is instead recognised as being manufactured.

Pessimists are people manipulated to believe that the horrible reality they live with everyday is the only possible reality. It is said that the most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed. (Steve Biko)

But there are already many optimists because the oppressor is on its last legs. Pessimists often call optimists “Dreamers” or “Idealists” in a subtle attempt to discredit them by indirectly claiming that they do not understand how the world actually works.

Like I said, pessimists will be proven wrong at every turn.

Linux is an operating system. An operating system is software and it is like any other computer program. It is written by a computer programmer with the specific aim of fulfilling some specific function, like displaying photos or predicting weather patterns.

The difference between any operating system and other programs is that an operating system is written to control all the other programs on your computer. An operating system allows you to use different programs by instructing them on how to interact.

There really are only two players in the world of Operating systems. Windows and Linux. (Apple Mac Computers use programming based on Linux, which is one of the reasons they are so reliable)

When the first Linux operating system was written its author, Linus Torvalds, decided not to sell it or claim intellectual property rights on it. Instead he decided to make it freely available without a price tag. Eventually, with the advent of the internet, anybody could legally download it.

This is the fundamental difference between Linux and Windows: Linux is open source software. It is not owned by anybody. This means that anybody can look at the source code which tells the program what to do.

If you knew how to, you could install the Linux operating system and modify it completely according to what you want because the programming that tells the software what to do is openly accessible and can be changed. On one condition: You must share any improvements that you have made in the same way that the original programmer did.

You cannot do this with Windows. The fine print that you have to “Accept” or “Decline” before installing Windows basically tells you that this Operating System does not belong to you (even though you paid for it) and that you are merely “borrowing” it from Microsoft. As such it is prohibited to even look at the source code. The source code is hidden and it does not allow itself to be changed.

There are some interesting side effects to be noted:

Windows is always plagued by Viruses (programs that harm your computer by corrupting or erasing data) by Malware (programs that steal your data) and Adware (programs that are installed alongside the original program, usually for advertising and marketing purposes) The only way to prevent this is to buy expensive Anti Virus, Firewall and other such forms of protective software.

Windows always breaks down after a few years (or less) even though there may be nothing wrong with the computer hardware. This is partly because Windows keeps endless records of its own actions. Even if you deleted a document that you no longer need, it will be kept in hidden folders unless you specifically delete it from there also. This can be quite a tricky process. The only way to prevent this is to have regular clean-ups with additional programs designed to clean a Windows system.

Linux is not susceptible to any of these. Linux is often used to remove viruses from computers that run on Windows. It is also used to recover stored data if a Windows system crashes. Linux cleans itself and, unlike Windows, it is completely unnecessary to install extra programs designed to do this.

The most obvious side effect is that Windows must be bought, it is expensive and it is illegal to make copies of it. Linux users are encouraged to copy and distribute it as far and as wide as possible.

The newer versions of Windows have tried very hard to imitate Linux, but it is too late because a can of worms has been opened and uncomfortable questions (that computer nerds have known about for decades) have seeped into the mind of the average computer user.

How can it be that a very expensive product developed by a multi billion corporation does not live up to the standards set by a product that was developed by volunteers and is available for free to anybody who chooses to use it? …???

The most popular version of Linux is called Ubuntu. It is the most popular because of its simplicity. Windows was, for a very long time, the only operating system that allowed an average person to use a computer. All you needed to know was how to switch it on and Windows did the rest for you. But it is no longer the only operating system that does this.

The original Linux was very complex as it was written by a computer programmer for other programmers. Mark Shuttleworth, the first African in Space, took Linux and redesigned it with average people like you and me in mind. They called it Ubuntu: Linux for Humans. Of course he was only able to do this because the of its open source nature.

Even the most enlightened pessimist would never have predicted the successful advent of Open Source Software.

There is a Political Philosophy (An idea of how society should be organised) summed up by the word Ubuntu. It is claimed to be an African Political Philosophy. Generally this philosophy of Ubuntu is translated as seeing or expressing your own humanity through the humanity of others. You are human only because of the other people around you. Politically speaking the Ubuntu philosophy basically advocates that we coexist peacefully by taking care of everybody’s needs.

Of course a pessimist would say that it is impossible to take care of the needs of all humans. Hence the need for Democracy (or some other form of Dictatorship) where the majority (or some other Psychopath) rule the rest.

But then a pessimist would also deny the proven fact that we already produce enough food to feed the earth’s population. Twice.

A pessimist would surely have predicted that an Open Source Operating System would fail because there are too many malicious and irresponsible computer nerds out there.

A pessimist would argue that these cyber-terrorists would want to harm you because according to a pessimist this is what humans naturally do.

“After all” the pessimist would say “these are the guys that write computer viruses…”

Yes they do, but not to harm you. Computer viruses only affect Windows systems and if you have been duped into using Windows you have already been hurt just by using an inferior product which was designed to fail regularly. Never mind their intention, computer viruses only serve to highlight the shortcomings of Windows. An inferior product by design.

We trusted a huge corporation to help us by making computer programming accessible to the average person. Instead they exploited us and made us into a laughing stock by infecting us and then selling us a cure that never works. Nothing makes more profit than chronic medication. It guarantees endless demand.

Until some us decided to cure ourselves and wrote an Operating system where viruses are deleted with nothing more than the “delete” button.

The tide is turning because the world is changing. A lot quicker than any of us could imagine. We are starting to wake up to the beauty that is inside each one of us. A divine beauty reflected by every other person you meet, provided that both of you are there to help and not to manipulate. Provided that you both share in Ubuntu.

What is it that is causing this change within mankind and the world? I would love to know. If you find the answer please share the insight.

But does it really matter?

Why do we help other people? Is it for selfish reasons? To make ourselves feel better? Or is it for genuine altruistic reasons?

Does it really matter?

The school we visited to offer Outreach Surfing Lessons is situated in a nearby community of small brick houses and wooden shacks called Friemersheim. It is a community of farm labourers and workers.

With me was Jenya and Rayden. The kids loved the image we conveyed to them. We spoke about the joy of surfing and about the blessings of nature, but we also spoke about the dedication, fitness and hard work involved in pursuing a passion for the ocean.

We showed them surfboards and other surfing gear and we asked questions about their fears and inhibitions regarding the ocean. The principal was very accommodating and he gave us the best opportunity possible to really get in touch with the children. He really wanted us to inspire them to take this chance. The teachers even left us alone so that the kids would be more relaxed.

We received 36 requests to go surfing. From girls and boys alike. We carefully explained that because of our current limitations with transport we cannot accommodate more than 4 kids at a time. We only have my trusty Mercedes Station Wagon. With Rayden, Jenya, myself, the surf gear, 4 children, a supervising teacher and/or parent it will be a tight squeeze.

We met with the principal again this week to arrange details and we are meeting with the parents of the first 4 kids later this week. During that meeting we will agree on a date for the first Outreach Surfing Lessons early in November. We will keep you updated. Also please visit our Outreach Page for further details and future updates.

I would take all of them every weekend but for that I will need better transport and a lot of help.

We are also going ahead with the November/December Surf Camp because it is our aim to incorporate as many of these children into that Camp. We are offering this Surf Camp for people interested in learning how to surf and capable of paying for our services. The profit made will contribute to, amongst other things, incorporating these kids into the camp in the form of Outreach Days Trips during the course of the camp. This is where we reach out to one another. It is a two way process. They are there to teach us as much as we are there to teach them. Hopefully in the future countless others from all walks of life and all generations will also experience the joy of being through surfing.

I prefer not to call our Surf Camp a fund-raiser because we do give something meaningful in return for the money that we receive. We cater for you and we provide you with comfortable camping but more importantly we teach you how to surf, an experience that is about as unparalleled as bungee jumping or sky diving but infinitely safer and more accessible. We provide all the gear for the camp and we guarantee that you will gain the necessary experience to continue surfing any conditions you feel comfortable with. Please see our Surf Camp Page for more details.

Why are we doing this? Why are we trying to teach kids from a farm labouring community how to surf if some of them have never even been to the beach? (Which is only 30km away)

Why did thousands and thousands of computer nerds dedicate thousands and thousands of hours to developing and refining an operating system that cannot be sold for money?

Perhaps for the sake of being creative. Perhaps for personal immaterial reward. Perhaps to feel the joy of being through doing something for others.

I do what I do because it puts a smile on my face.

I surf because it puts a smile on my face, not because I want to get fit. That happens, but it is secondary. I make breakfast in bed for my wife because it puts a smile on my face, not because I expect a foot rub in return. I offer surfing lessons to kids because it puts a smile on my face, not because I expect to be given stuff. I do what I do, for other people, for myself.

It is not contradictory but absolutely necessary to make sure that you help other people when you do something for yourself and to make sure that you help yourself when you do something for other people.

Unravel Travel is not a charity. It is not a non profitable organisation. It is not a Travel Company and it is not a Surf School. Those are all labels. Unravel Travel is an attempt to take only the best from underneath all of those labels and spread it as far as possible.

Perhaps this is Ubuntu. To make other people smile because it makes you smile.

If you would like to donate surfboards, surfing wax, leashes, wetsuits, sunblock, tents, sleeping bags gas stoves and any other surfing or camping related gear it would greatly assist our effort to make the Outreach Day Trips a reality during the Surf Camp in November/December. Please contact us and send an email to to arrange for donations to be made.


If you would like to join our November/December Surf Camp see the Surf Camp page for details on what we offer at our Camp. If you can already surf and you are prepared to cover your own costs to join our Camp to help with the Outreach Day Trips please contact us and send an email to to arrange the details.

We must all help because we must all accept help from time to time. This allows for others to express their humanity through us.

Spread the spirit of Ubuntu because we all share one planet. That is the bottom line. We must learn to coexist and take care of everybody’s needs.

Unravel your Travel.


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3 thoughts on “No Human is an Island

  1. “It is not contradictory but absolutely necessary to make sure that you help other people when you do something for yourself and to make sure that you help yourself when you do something for other people.” Thank you for this line, it has always been part of my essence but I have never been able to put it into words. Helping others, whenever I am able to, makes me smile. I have recently started volunteer work, helping disadvanged kids with their literacy skills through a local NGO called Shine. I do it because these children make me smile. It is uplifting to know that a couple of hours of my time can make such a long lasting difference to their lives. I have not stopped smiling since I started teaching. Take care you all fantastic people.


  2. All actions are ultimately done out of self-interest. This is not a pessimistic view. The more we learn and trust the experience on oneness, the more we realise that helping another IS helping ourselves. They are me, I am them. I help you, to help me to help us. I help me to help you to help us. Afterall, there is only one of us here.

    Congrats and well done on what you are doing! It’s great!


  3. Hermann,

    I love the way you have put your thoughts into words. This post rings very close to my own thoughts. I have heard a number of self descriptions and have seen a number of CV which include their most worthy attributes. All of them described themselves as hardworking, optimistic, sociable and so on. Not one identified themselves as a philanthropist. Is it that they are not or is it that they are incapable of being one? Probably not. It’s more so that the fundamental rule of living in a community has been long forgotten. Humans live in “communities”, “societies” for one simple reason ; co-dependence (depending on and helping the other). What we all require is a healthy dose of re-inception of this idea. The work you are doing and your writings serve this requirement aptly. Kudos to you!!!


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