Lions, snow and a 100-year-old chief: Meet Dr Sasa Bozic who lived with 11 tribes in 11 countries this year

The Slovenian national’s journey is being showcased in Expo City Dubai at the COP28 exhibition

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Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 5 Dec 2023, 4:18 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Dec 2023, 9:31 PM

Eleven countries and 11 tribes — one living along with lions in the wild jungles of Africa. This is how Dr Sasa Bozic spent 365 days recently while searching for indigenous wisdom and solutions to sustainable living.

The Slovenian national’s eventful journey is being showcased at Expo City Dubai at the COP28 exhibition titled 'One World. One Family', which is part of a social sustainability initiative by Knauf Insulation. In the project — described as the ‘365 Days of Ancient Wisdom for the Well-being of Modern Man’ — Bozic dedicated each month of the year to one tribe, starting in Australia and ending in New Zealand.

She embarked on the journey because she believes that if people are well, happy and healthy, they will take care of the planet and the economy will thrive.

“I decided to connect with ancient cultures and ascertain how people used to live, so that I could bring that old wisdom to the present era. I'm basically being a vessel or a bridge between the old and the new,” Bozic told Khaleej Times in an interview on the sidelines of the exhibition at the Slovenia Pavilion.

“In a way, I was their representative of a modern man. Doing the project made me rethink my priorities and the fast-paced life to convince myself that it's okay to be patient. It's okay to let things and events take their own course because if it's meant to happen, it will happen. And this is really hard in the modern day.” Interestingly, Bozic says she never fell ill during her stay with the tribes.

Common values

There are three main values that are common to all of the 11 tribes, the Slovenian reports.

“The first is that nature is sacred. Because they are so dependent on nature and get everything from it, they worship it. They don't understand pollution and [conversations about] sustainability. The second is living within a community, tribe or family for survival. In the modern era, we are individualised in our big apartments and buildings, and don't even know our neighbours sometimes. We get lonely and out of loneliness comes burnout. Loneliness is closely connected to exhaustion. The third is respecting elders, who are wisdom keepers. So often, we just put them in old age homes... It makes us lose that connection with our roots, culture and our purpose.”

Experiences to remember

Bozic has several engaging stories to tell of her time with the tribes — such as how she braved a six-hour journey in -30°Celsius and 2-metre-deep snow to reach the Sami community in the Arctic Circle. Or how the Maasai Mara people named her 'joy' in their language, because she always wore a smile.

Speaking of her first interaction with the African tribe, Bozic said was assisted by a guy called Joseph who could speak English. All of a sudden, the tribal chief asked her, “Where is your husband?" The Slovenian took her smartphone and made a video call to her husband. “The chief needs to speak to you,” she told him. “I showed the 100-year-old chief my husband... They were wowed [to see him on my phone]. My husband asked the chief to take care of me so that I would not be eaten by lions.”

That interaction ended up being no joke. One of the scariest moments Bozic experienced was when they did indeed come face to face with lions during one of her nature walks. “I used to go out for nature walks, accompanied by three elders or warriors of the tribe. One day, the elders suddenly surrounded me." They were facing lions. "They said, 'Don't worry, we got you',” she recalled.

Being a pescatarian, one of the most challenging aspects of that stay for Bozic was meal time, because they ate red meat and drink blood. “That was a challenge. Luckily, there were some camps nearby, so I could go and have a meal."

'We are all the same'

In a message to the world, she says, “As human beings, we are all the same. We all bleed blood, we all go to bed when we are tired... Of course, on the surface, we are different. We are from different cultures and religions. But those core three values that I mentioned is what unites us. If we approach each other as human beings with respect to the fact that we are just one family because we are all the same in our DNA, in how we are wired, maybe we would address conflicts or situations differently.

“Just take a step back. Say, 'You are my brother. We are from one family, the human family, sharing one home. And whatever you do influences me.' We need to start by taking personal responsibility for our own actions, asking ourselves whether we are doing everything that is in our power to make our relationship, environment, and contribution to the economy the best they can be,” she concluded.

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