South African mountaineer Saray Khumalo hopes that her conquering of Mount Everest will inspire Africans – especially young women – to reach for their goals in life.
The dream of any African child is valid and it is possible to achieve, said Khumalo, who received a hero’s welcome at the OR Tambo International Airport this morning.
On 16 May, Khumalo took the record for being the first black woman to scale and reach the top of Mount Everest in Asia’s Himalayas in Nepal.
Reaching an elevation of 29 035 feet (8 850 metres), Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
In a media briefing after arriving back in the country on Monday, Khumalo said climbing Mount Everest was not a personal quest but more one of educating the African child.
From 2012, Khumalo said she set herself the target of seven summits – with the highest peaks in the seven continents of the world. So far she has reached four.
“I embarked on this journey in an effort to achieve and to educate the African child. I have done this because someone else has invested in my own education – through the Mandela Libraries.”
In this summit, Khumalo said they managed to raise R135 000 for this project which will take one child to school for one year.
The summit, Khumalo said, was a motivation for her project; Summit for a Purpose – which aims to raise awareness about Ubuntu – which can raise the next generation of leaders.
Reflecting on the summit itself, Khumalo said she was moved that in her small way she was able to inspire every African child – who might have been told that it’s not possible – that they can reach their own Mount Everest.
Failure is not an option for Khumalo as she has previously attempted to climb Everest four times – but was unsuccessful.
“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner.”
She said the summit was difficult more so as they lost one of the team members – Seamus Lawless – who fell and went missing during the descent.
“He was a very knowledgeable guy which is something that I’ll treasure. I encourage everyone to die doing what we love because death is inevitable.”
Khumalo went on to thank everyone for the support and congratulation messages she received – saying the summit wouldn’t be successful without her support system.