African Safari Family Legacy
Where Many Bond Into One For Generations

FIRST STORY FROM RECENT TRIP TO AFRICA

BEGGING FOR LIFE


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The following news article is reprinted to provide background on Cliff McKenzie

 

Former War Correspondent
Promotes African Safari Legacy

By
Warren Esterline
Editor, Blade-Tribune


      One of the first U.S. Marine combat correspondents to report the war in Vietnam has taken on a new challenge more than four decades later. Today, he’s fighting to preserve the beauty and magic of Africa. His weapon is words, photos, and interviews with a host of dedicated people who strive to keep Africa’s pristine beauty preserved for generations to come.
     At a strapping six-foot, four-inches and weighing in at two-hundred and fifty pounds, Cliff McKenzie looks more like a former linebacker or coach for the National Football League than an articulate writer, known for his sensitivity and commitment to the protection of the world’s most enchanting environment.
     McKenzie, however, has a bevy of articles to his credit, published in major national magazines and newspapers over the years, including Kings Features Syndicate, Grit and Penthouse. He has also written for the New York Times, Daily News and other major national publications.
     His articles deal with a wide variety of issues, from corporate achievements in business to individual spotlights on unique people. But these days, he’s taken aim with his pen on preserving the wilderness for future generations, especially the magic of Africa. His most recent thrust is to headline what he calls the “African Safari Legacy.”
     The sixty-four-year old, who appears a decade younger, has a staunch commitment to his children’s and grandchildren’s right to travel the world in peace and harmony and view the beauty of the wild before it is swallowed by the advancement of modernization.
     He says he owes his new interest in Africa to his four-year-old grandson, Brendan. “My wife and I baby sit him a lot,” he said. “We started watching Madagascar, the superb animated movie about getting out of the New York City zoo and returning the wild. Each time Brendan and I watched it, and,” he added, “its more than a couple of dozen times, my grandson says: ‘Gpa, will you take me to Africa some day?’”
     Having spent thirteen months in the jungles of combat-riddled Vietnam, McKenzie is more than familiar with the wild. But not from a peaceful, nation building, environmentally conscious point-of-view. “I look at what is happening in the world,” he says. “And I’ve decided to use my talents with words and photos to promote with a passion for protecting its virtue—the wild of Africa. In my book, every American family, and for that matter, every family in the world should make it goal to visit Africa and participate in what I will continually chorus—to create a Family Safari Legacy.”
     To execute the first stage of his Family Safari Legacy plan, McKenzie, and his wife Lori of forty years, are planning their own African Safari Legacy path finding trip this March. Its primary purpose, he says, is to develop a series of articles on the land, the people and the magic of establishing an African Family Legacy Safari.
The legacy safari, he says, is a family glue to bond parents, children, grandchildren and grandparents closer as a family unit. A vital side effect, he says, is to broaden safari legacy travelers’ respect and appreciation for other cultures.
     McKenzie advocates that the more informed people are about the world’s differences, the greater chances there are for peace and prosperity.
The World Trade Center terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, underscored the importance of creating family legacies, he stated. McKenzie almost lost his life that day, but, he says, a new vision of life evolved out of the horrible disaster.
     “I was at Ground Zero in New York City when the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center,” he said. “I thought I was going to die that day. My last thoughts were about my children and grandchildren. I vowed that day to make sure they saw the world for its great riches and beauty, not its ugliness or terror. I realized at that moment that my grandchildren must be the ones to help heal the great divisions that exist in this world. The ultimate antidote to world division is obviously unity. And the more people travel to other parts of the world and inhale the cultures of others, the less differences there are among us all,” he added. “Africa is the sum of harmony amidst differences.”

McKenzie at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, writing story on attack in the ashes of terrorist attack
 Surviving the collapse of the World Trade Center, McKenzie immediately launched a website promoting the need for unity, www.vigilancevoice.com. Its primary purpose, he says, is to teach the world of parents-to-be, parents, children, adults, corporations and grandparents that vigilance begins with bonding with the world family, other individuals as well as with nature.
     “The greatest legacy a person can create with another person of any age is to go to the source of human existence and touch the heart of civilization’s birth. Africa is such a place,” McKenzie says. “It is the birthmother of the secrets to the beginnings of humanity. Time is frozen in Africa’s great heart. It comes to life in a lion’s roar, or an elephant’s trumpet, or the graceful leaping of a gazelle.”
     McKenzie’s goal through his African articles is to establish not just a desire to see Africa as a tourist, but to visit the continent with the thirst of a pioneer, bent on mapping out and presenting to others a journey they must enjoy to complete their own sense of oneness with nature and the world at large.”
     He claims the worst form of terrorism is ignorance. By widening the scope of a person’s view of this magnificent earth and its peoples, places and things, the less desire there is to destroy, maim or harm others, he advocates.
     “I stress in each article that individuals who go to Africa do so to create an African Legacy,” he notes. “That legacy is a promise to themselves that they will bring other family members and friends back for a second, third, fourth experience. The more global respect for life, the greater harmony there is for everyone,” he adds.
     McKenzie doesn’t limit the African legacy to just people with children.
     “A young couple, for example, on a honeymoon to Africa can easily make a vow to bring their future children to see this great land. A retired couple touring Africa can go beyond their own pleasure and commit to bringing their grandchildren face-to-face with the beauty of an African sunset, or share with them a stroll through a Maasai village, or revel with them as lions and elephants are spotted on a game drive. The bonding between people sharing such an event, regardless of age, is indefinable.”
McKenzie greeting newscaster Walter Cronkite at press conference in New York City.
      McKenzie notes that Walt Disney designed his “magic kingdom” on the principle of sharing.
     “More than half the people who return to visit Disneyland bring a guest with them with one sole purpose—to watch the excitement and awe in their eyes when they see Disneyland for the first time. Africa is more than just an experience in awe. It is a jaw-dropping experience that every man, woman and child should lock into their memory. If more people made a vow to create a safari legacy, the eyes of the world would widen and shrink many existing blind spots that can lead to trouble.”
     On his two-week article scouting trip to Africa this March, McKenzie intends to interview and write stories about a wide variety of what he terms African Legacy Ambassadors—the guides, hotel managers, employees, and limitless batteries of support systems--designed to make any African traveler’s breath stop short.
     “I have been in contact with quite a number of safari companies and safari lodges,” he said. “Everyone I’ve contacted exudes a love for Africa that is hard to capture in words. It can best be termed with the words love of, or love for their land. I intend to tell the story of the urgency of an African Legacy through their eyes and hearts.”
     McKenzie hopes to urge each of the safari lodges to issue travelers a Safari Legacy Certificate. “I’m creating a website and offering to companies and safari lodges ideas to individualize the safari legacy in their own way. Promoting their company or lodge is key to any good marketing, but the overall promotion is to get the traveler to commit to future trips with family and friends.”
     McKenzie’s range of readership climbs up and down the economic pole.
“As a freelancer, I have the luxury to write for a wide variety of publications. Some have very rich readers who can easily spend thousands of dollars a night for a luxury safari lodge,” he noted. “I also have venues for the average income publication, and the more general circulation that has mass appeal,” he adds.
     “Whether rich or moderate income, I believe readers understand the importance of creating a legacy. I’m poking at my readers to veer from other vacation choices and steer them to Africa. The safari legacy is the great venue for this. It offers the greatest price-value ratio.”
McKenzie greeting President Ronald Reagan at national convention in early 1980.

        McKenzie has more than his fair share of experience at insuring good ideas become legendary. After the war in Vietnam, he freelanced for a number of years for various magazines and newspapers, and then elected to join the business world to better support his family.
     He rose rapidly up the corporate ranks and became, before the age of 40, the senior vice president of marketing for Century 21 International Real Estate, a multi-national company generating more than $50 billion U.S. in residential sales. Warren Buffet’s daughter, Susan, was his executive secretary.
     He left the company in 1980 after it was purchased by Trans World Corporation and launched his own international franchise marketing consulting company. He assisted major companies penetrate markets in Asia and Europe, as well as others in North America.
     A bout with colon cancer in the early 1990’s changed his life.
     “I survived cancer and took a look at my life,” he said. “My first love was always writing. Caner changed my lifestyle completely. I got off the fast corporate make-all-the-money-you-can-as-fast-as-you-can track. It was tough giving up all the things you accumulate when you’re financially successful. But cancer set me on a new course. It made me realize the importance not of my life, but of the life of my children and grandchildren. It made me aware that a great legacy is about sharing vast, monumental experiences with others, especially those you love.”
When his wife was stricken with breast cancer a few years later, the couple decided to move from their ocean-view home in Dana Point, California to the crowded cacophony of the East Village.
     “You could fit our apartment in New York into our California master bathroom,” he jokes. “But the desire to be near our grandchildren was the best chemotherapy in the world.”
     “I started to think about the importance of the family legacy, of creating a deep well from which all children could drink the wisdom of past generations to enrich their current one. I was writing about ways one generation can bond itself to the next when Nine Eleven happened. I then realized the importance of acting on a legacy building plan.”
     The heart of McKenzie’s vigilancevoice.com website was about generational family responsibility.
     “As a writer,” he says, “I believe the true message for peace versus war, or prosperity over poverty, or happiness versus sadness, begins and ends with a rich, well-rounded viewpoint of the family. A family that believes in protecting the world from harm won’t allow injustices to occur without a fight for what’s right. And the more families commit to a Family Vigilance Legacy, the less strife and more prosperity will exist for all,” he affirms.
     “The African Family Legacy is a big step in making a commitment to peace and harmony around the world,” he says. “Going to Africa is not a vacation. The word safari translates to a journey, a trek into the true meaning of life. Once exposed to this meaning, one’s life decisions cannot be shallow, selfish, self-centered. Africa opens the door to the ultimate evolution of people,” McKenzie states.
      His planned series of articles on Africa and its legacy value to people are small drops in a big bucket of purpose, he says.
     The African wild, McKenzie claims, is an example of the world’s peaceful unity in a natural setting. Creatures of all types and kinds co-exist in pristine habitats, he notes. “Balance and harmony rule the African animal kingdom,” McKenzie says.
     “We can all take a lesson from the land and use it in our life, in our business, in our cultures. Africa poses questions such as how can so many creatures of so many different kinds all exist in one land? When we study Africa’s answer to this question and apply the answer to our world, we’ll have a new form of peace and prosperity.”
     There are obstacles McKenzie plans on paving with well-chosen words and well-placed articles. One is the cost of going to Africa and the other is the image many people of Africa in state of strife.
     “I’m amazed at the reasonable costs of traveling to Africa,” he said. “I’m sure the public has no idea you can go on a safari in Africa for less than $100 a day—economy of course. As well, you can range upwards of the $1,000-a-night luxury lodgings.”
McKenzie estimates a trip to Africa comes within close range of a couple of trips to Disneyland.
     “I was pushing the pencil around and noted that a legacy safari rivals the economics of two Disneyland trips. I thought about the price valuation of viewing someone dressed in a Mickey Mouse costume versus watching a lion or elephant in the wild from a safari Land Rover. Or, the value of walking through a Maasai village versus a mechanical hippo rising out of the Jungle Cruise. Or, of seeing a real zebra or giraffe grazing in the Serengeti compared to Winnie The Poo weaving in and out of hundreds of tourists on a hot summer day in Orlando. I couldn’t imagine anyone creating a Disneyland legacy.”
     McKenzie isn’t just focused on the family vacation to create an African Safari Legacy.
“Take a couple who are thinking about a cruise to Alaska or a jaunt through Europe. For the same price, they can enjoy a monumental experience in Africa that cannot be compared to or likened to any other journey. They will be at the heart of existence, traveling in a frozen land of timeless beauty. Everyone’s first real vacation should be to Africa, and every other destination should take second place.”
     McKenzie plans on promoting the value of the Corporate African Legacy also.
“An executive taking his or her team on a corporate safari to create a Corporate Business Legacy, will find the results phenomenal,” he affirms. “All great companies are competitive, and no other place on earth allows first-hand experience on competition and harmony than Africa.”
He notes from his own experience that the great corporate team works together to achieve common goals.
     “A pride of lions does exactly the same,” he says. “How does a pride of lions achieve spectacular results? What causes their members to fail? What corporate lessons can one can learn from eons of African wildlife existence? Company CEO’s will find the Corporate Safari Legacy a wonderful way to sharpen business teams competitive skills”
     The second issue McKenzie hopes to limit as an obstacle to visiting Africa is the image of security and personal safety.
     “People need perspective,” he said. “I felt very safe in New York City until the attack of Nine Eleven. People around the world must realize the dangers of traveling to Africa are no more or less than walking across the street in their own neighborhood.”
     He understands that the news media promotes the squalor and poverty of Africa rather than its beauty and magnificence.
     “In a way, I’m hoping to establish a public relations counter balance to the news that often shrouds Africa in a state of strife. I know this isn’t true. It amazes me that the magic of Africa has been squeezed out by headlines that often discourage travelers. I believe with dogged promotion of the African Family Legacy theme, the world public will realize the only real danger and risk is in not going to this great land.”
     McKenzie says he’s planning on developing a website on the family legacy safari, replete with information and stories on why everyone should create their own African Family Legacy.
     “Life is short,” he attests, and the greatest value we have is passing on treasures to other generations. No value or treasure can compete with going to Africa and seeing it first hand. Parents, grandparents, cousins, brothers, sisters, husbands need to go to Africa and then say to everyone they meet: ‘Our family is an African Legacy! Yours Can Be Too!’”
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