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The Big Fifty for Big Five

Date: September 21, 2023 | By: Ashish Sanghrajka | Category: Travel Blog

This past Saturday, the Big Five team had an epic weekend, celebrating 50 years as a company. The evening was a tribute to my colleagues, who have persevered through thick and thin to see the success of this company unfold, and it was also in honor of my parents, celebrating the vision that started in Kenya 50 years ago.  In addition to those in attendance, physically and virtually from the Big Five family, a few important, influential guests who settled us as a company and family joined us to celebrate this milestone. I have to admit the butterflies were settling in my stomach a few hours before the event because I wanted this evening to be perfect for my colleagues, and it has been in the works since February of this year.


At the end of the evening, I was exhausted, but in a good way, as my thoughts returned to all the smiling faces. My parents, in particular, were beaming, especially my father, as he felt his parent’s presence at the event.  This was just the second time that I heard him speak of his parents, as they had both passed away before my father turned 20. The first mention of them was when our office was built and how he wished his father was there to witness his success.


The next day, my parents sent me a thank you message, unlike any other message my father had ever written. It was gratifying and, at the same time, perplexing. While I knew the evening was special for everyone, I didn’t fully understand how special it was for my parents.  Often, I think about how I came to Big Five.  I recall talking with my father at the age of 17, saying that I wanted nothing to do with travel; I wanted to head out on my own, far away to college, to make my own way and make my own mark on the world. Years later, who knew that a BBC videographer in India’s Ranthambore Park would be instrumental in my return to Big Five back in 2002, considering I had worked in the mailroom when I was 8, I guess it was inevitable.


Sitting on the plane en route to ILTM, the gravity of the moment really hit home, and I have to thank my colleagues for bringing this clarity. All the sacrifices and struggles over 5 decades were worth it because we’ve always believed we were a higher-purpose company. At this party, we saw the journey and belief come to full fruition. This celebration served as an illumination, particularly for my parents. They finally were able to look back and see the body of work they started and the momentum to build on.


Here is to the next 50 years. Enjoy the video we played at our party. I think even Flat Ash made an appearance.


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