South African homecoming

Visiting South Africa feels like a homecoming. We are always welcomed with open arms, and this week has been no exception. 


Image from

South Africa will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the host of one of my favourite Virgin Limited Edition properties, the stunning Ulusaba Private Game Reserve. I had a wonderful time there over the weekend, checking in on all the magnificent animals – going on safari is one of my favourite things to do in the world. 

Now I am off to visit our beautiful new hotel and vineyard in Franschhoek, Mont Rochelle. Yes, I am a very lucky man!

South Africa also pulls on my heartstrings as the home of my old friend Nelson Mandela. Madiba’s love for his nation was infectious, and I definitely caught his enthusiasm and respect for the country. It is also the home of Archbishop Tutu, who I always look forward to seeing and learning from when visiting here. But first, I headed from Ulusaba to the city to celebrate 18 years of flights from Johannesburg with Virgin Atlantic. I joined our brilliant team and top flyers in a colourful parade. 

Image from Virgin Atlantic South Africa

Reinforcing our commitment to South Africa, our loud and lively procession flooded the streets of Jo’burg with South African flags and red hot t-shirts, marching along to a soundtrack provided by the country’s biggest rock band, the Parlotones.


Parade in #Joburg with @virginatlantic

A video posted by Richard Branson (@richardbranson) on

I had great fun joining the Parlotones’ line-up. The band are long-time friends of Virgin Atlantic, launching their new album, Stand Like Giants earlier this year from on board Virgin Atlantic at 37,000 feet. 

The Parlotones serenaded the parade with a wonderful and aptly named, unreleased song, Defy Gravity. I especially enjoyed the ‘let it fly’ lyrics they incorporated especially for the parade. 

Then it was on to catch up with the Virgin Mobile team and then drop in for a mentorship session with the incredible new business talents at our Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – more on that soon. I’m looking forward to meeting more amazing South Africans on this trip and dropping in on our other Virgin companies too.


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