As day dawned on the morning of 13 July, a group of courageous adventurers set forth on their journey to Mount Kilimanjaro. This was part of the Trek4Mandela challenge to summit the highest peak in Africa and to raise money to buy sanitary pads for underprivileged girls.
The farewell ceremony was attended by a variety of VIPs, including Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation; Leanne Manas, Morning Live presenter; Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel; and Thulani Nzima, CEO of South African Tourism.
The trek up Africa’s highest peak is in aid of the charity Caring4Girls, which supplies sanitary towels to girls in remote areas and/or from underprivileged backgrounds. Girls miss many days of school each year while they menstruate. Further, the subject is often considered taboo to talk about, and Caring4Girls hopes to allow young women and girls to be able to talk about menstruation and seek information and advice.
South African Tourism is proud to be associated with this ever-growing initiative. Nzima said at the farewell ceremony, “We are very excited [to be involved]. Last year we launched the Mandela-inspired tourist attractions map, and this year the Madiba’s Journey app. There could be no more fitting event than this one to continue the extension of the legacy of Mandela.
“From a tourism point of view it is very important that we continue to reach out to communities and the South African community at large,” added Nzima. “We are taking this as yet another step where we want to reach out to the girl child out there, raise awareness about what we are doing as a caring organisation, and make sure that we extend the legacy of [Mandela].
“We see this as an extension of some of the initiatives that we have taken in preserving the legacy of Mandela [and] there couldn’t have been a better extension than this one. As you know, Madiba himself was very close to the children, and the girl child is very important in making sure that we shape our society further,” he said.
“But if you look at where we are going, summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, one could draw an analogy with Mandela’s long walk to freedom. This is indeed us taking yet one more step towards the summit of a mountain. But it doesn’t end there; it is really a challenge.
“Mandela said that although you come to the top of the mountain, you realise that there are still a million more mountains to climb. We are saying, as South African Tourism, that we are sure that there are plenty more projects that we can get involved in that are noble, and that are also an extension of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. But equally, from a tourism point of view, we don’t want to [do it to] be fashionable; we want to do it as a matter of responsibility.”
Nzima himself is also doing his bit, joining the plucky band of businesspeople, celebrities and other South African climbers who hope to summit Kilimanjaro on 18 July, Mandela Day.