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My name is Josie Borain. I’ve been a wife, a widow, a divorcee, a supermodel, a photographer and a mother.

I was born in ’63, grew up in a leafy white suburb in Johannesburg, and I was never very good at school. I moved to Cape Town, started modelling, and entered a jet-setter world of grace, glamour, fame and fortune.

Josie Borain South African super model travel AfricaI lived in Paris and New York, I worked on Ralph Lauren campaigns and on a contract for Calvin Klein – 100 days a year for three years for a million Dollars. I graced the covers of dozens of magazines, tv commercials and advertising campaigns, including the most famous of all billboards in Times Square.

I married a photographer called Pierre, he encouraged me to take a camera with me wherever I went, he was my teacher, my guru, my everything. Pierre and I wanted to go on a road trip through Africa from North to South, but then I got the Calvin contract,  “Africa will always be there we can do it later, take the contract”, Pierre said.  Unfortunately, unbeknown to Pierre or myself, he wouldn’t be. Pierre died in August of 1986 from an aneurism while out on a run on the streets of Paris.

I continued in the rat race of modelling in New York. I ate at the best restaurants, I had a film director boyfriend – Phil Joanou (one of Spielberg’s protégées), I hung-out with him on sets with Sean Penn, I modelled with Cindy Crawford, I had famous friends and I was fabulous, living a fabulous life.

josie borain south africa

Eventually in 1995, I decided to move back to South Africa. I rekindled a romance with an old crush – Grant Maben – he had just come out of rehab. I got pregnant but had to leave him after two months when I realised I did not want to spend the rest of my life with him. When my son was four months old I got into a relationship with Charles Spencer, we were together for 9 months and then his sister died in that terrible car accident. I joined her family for the burial and was part of a small part of history in the making.

In the next segment of my life is Langley, an actor ten years my junior. We got married in 2002 and ended up having two gorgeous kids. I lived the life of a mother. I love my children but it was a challenge, being the authoritarian parent was not my scene. We lived the typical suburban life. It became monotonous and boring.  Langley had an affair. We stayed together and worked through it “kind of”….But somehow I stopped caring.

Fast forward to 2012. Langley asks me for a divorce. The pain was not in loosing a husband, for me the pain was in breaking up my family. I cried and I begged and I pleaded but he said he didn’t love me anymore. I wallowed in pain, I embraced the sadness and it made me feel alive.

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So, here I am at 49 years old. Langley has given me a new lease on life, a path to a new future, a new beginning with a different ending.

I came up with this idea to go on a road trip, to drive across Southern Africa – through Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – all on my own. And to photograph the people and places I see on my way.  Photography and travel are what I love. Langley will look after the kids – give me some time to recover and get inspired again.

I contacted Africa Geographic to approach them as my media partner and to publish the stories that come out of my journey. And here we are, with one month to go and a helluva lot of planning until I leave on my big trip. But then again, you only live once, or, as my son would say, YOLO!

Check back next week for an update on my southern Africa travel itinerary – see how my route is taking shape and whether or not, finger crossed, I manage to find myself a sturdy 4×4 to carry me there.

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Josie Borain

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Josie Borain was officially recognised as the first South African Supermodel. She was the Fashion Editor for Fair Lady Magazine and further success came by establishing her name as a leading photographer with over twenty years experience doing portraits, self-portraits and reportage. In 2003 she published her own life story in a book, ‘Josie, You and Me’ by Bell-Roberts. Follow the Josie Borain in Africa blog series.