While most people would have given up all hope after losing everything they own, Michael Conway chose instead to use the disaster as a starting point for a spiritual journey that has since taken him across the country, including East London.
Conway was born in Johannesburg, the oldest of four children, and he was raised along with his siblings by his mother.
“I went to boarding school in Polokwane from grade 8 and joined the army in 1984.
“I went up the ranks and eventually took a package and left in 2004. I then started a company doing interiors,” he said.
Conway said it was difficult when his mother passed away.
“I only really got to know my mom after I came back from the army.
“She was my best friend,” he said.
Conway lost a large amount of capital doing a project in 2014 in Sandton, had to lay off his staff and went on to lose almost everything else.
Battling to find work and with only R6,000 to his name, Conway decided to tour the country and went to live with his mother’s friend in Clanwilliam in the Western Cape.
“It was scary in the beginning. I was terrified of having to start over and the fear of being alone in my troubles. I had panic attacks and could not sleep at night,” he said.
“In August 2017, she [his mother’s friend] passed away and that’s when I started my journey from St Helena down the west coast to Cape Town.
“I learnt to survive and live off the sea with fishing rods I had bought. One of the best meals I had is polony and baked beans. When you do not have much, your stomach is not choosy.
“I also did piece jobs along the way such as cleaning toilets.”
Conway believes his long stretch of solitude along with his army training helped him find out who he was.
“I’ve learnt more in this time more than ever. I have found the child in me, although the first six months were full of uncertainty,” he said.
Conway made his way to the Eastern Cape, resting in Morgans Bay where a chance encounter with East London locals convinced him to stay for a while.
He said he usually stayed no more than three months in a town, and has been in East London for five weeks now.
Describing East London and its people, Conway said it has a little bit of everything. The people are friendly and are intrigued rather than nosy.
“A lot of people think I should put my journey down in a book but I do not want to. It is personal and the adventure lives in my mind and heart,” said Conway.
He is not married and has no children but says he is content by himself.
“If I had not lost everything, I probably would not be here. I have also learnt that small things do not matter.”
Conway can be reached at 083-440-6848.