Maye Musk’s “crazy” childhood trek through the desert in Africa
Elon Musk is known to be a Silicon Valley maverick. And it looks like the daredevil streak is in the family.
âWhen I was a kid my parents were very adventurous,â Maye Musk, Elon’s 72-year-old mother, told CNBC Make It.
Indeed: When Maye Musk was a child in South Africa, her father, Joshua Norman Haldeman, a chiropractor, “was interested in finding the lost city of the Kalahari Desert” in Africa, she told CNBC Make It.
Haldeman took Maye Musk and the rest of the family on annual hikes in search of the Lost City every July for nearly a decade.
The story of the lost city of Kalahari Desert began at the end of the 19th century, after Canadian adventurer Guillermo Farini walked through the desert (which covers much of Botswana, parts of Namibia and parts of South Africa) and then published a book about his travels. The book alludes to a possible lost city: “A relic, perhaps, of a glorious past, A once great and sublime city, Destroyed by an earthquake, disfigured by the explosion, Swept away by the hand of time”, he writes.
Musk’s father was addicted. Each year her mother – Winnifred Josephine Haldeman – packed a supply of water, food and gas and the family of five would leave with a map and a compass.
âWe were going to cross the desert for three weeks,â she said. His father would tell the scouts with camels pick up the family if they do not leave the desert as planned.
âCan you imagine doing that? I mean it’s crazy,â Musk said. “But they were adventurous and we walked through this desert.”
The family traveled by daylight, then at night they slept on the floor in sleeping bags.
Musk remembers seeing lots of animals and meeting different tribes of Bushmen, some of whom in the late 1950s had never seen a car before. âThey had never seen other people and they were curious and we were curious,â Musk says. Even if, it is true, “we had a linguistic divide there”.
From the time Musk and his twin sister, Kaye, were around 6 to 8 years old, they would be tasked with walking in front of the family’s slow car “to make sure there were no ditches or old dried out logs. logs, “the car could strike and be damaged,” she said.
âMy twin sister reminded me that [our parents] didn’t seem too worried, âMusk says.
âWe were so independent and we were taught to be adventurous ourselves and to try all kinds of new things,â she says. âMy father used to say: ‘live dangerously, carefully’. “
This motto was passed down to her and colored the way she raised her own children, she says.
When Musk grew up she had three children – Elon, now 49; Kimbal, 47 years old; and Tosca, 46 – and raised them largely as a single mother. She was self-employed, juggling both modeling and a private practice as a dietitian.
The family moved frequently (“I just moved to eight cities and started my own business and had three kids with me, that’s considered courageous,” Musk says), and was often “strapped for cash. “.
Due to her busy schedule, Musk’s children had to be self-reliant from an early age, she says.
âI worked long hours. They didn’t see me much.â¦ Luckily I worked from home. I still had my practice at home and they just knew they had to behave, they had to do their own homework, and they had to make their own choices, âshe said.
But it was a good thing in many ways. âMy # 1 tip for raising successful kids is empowering them,â Musk says. âLet them go their own way. “
As her children grew older, each did just that.
Elon got into physics, says Maye Musk, and became an entrepreneur, just like Kimbal. (At one point, they went into business together.) Tosca, became a filmmaker.
“They had to get their own scholarships [to school], and their own loans becauseâ¦ I didn’t even have time to read a contract, âMusk says.
âThey had to do it all themselves and that independence really helped. And look how happy they are now.â
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