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  • Yaa at Talking Drums

Travel | Reflections, pre-birthdays and Mount Kilimanjaro

It is still so crazy to me that I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, in 2016. Even more crazier to me that I had not properly seen the mountain with my own two eyes until today (23/11/2017, the day before my 29th birthday)! I’ll explain!

Both on the day we began our climb in September 2016 and as we left Moshi after, it was so cloudy that I could only just about make out the faint outline of the snow-caps of the mountain to confirm that it was indeed Kilimanjaro I was about to climb and had just climbed! Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was the most challenging experience of my life and one that I am still trying to process! With that said, and whilst I did not make it to my intended destination (Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa), I made it to the top!!! Slowly! Pole Pole! I could probably never articulate to you the mental strength you need for this challenge but I will forever be so proud of myself! I learnt so much, something new every day and lessons that I will carry with me through life. One being that I really do not give up! And two understanding that old saying ‘it is the journey not the destination that matters’. Fast forward one year and two months later, as I type these thoughts en route from Zanzibar to Addis Ababa where I decided to spend my birthday this year. Our plane has stopped briefly at Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO) to pick up more passengers, I am delighted when the captain informs us that Mount Meru would be on our left hand side and Mount Kilimanjaro will be to our right. Delighted especially because I am seated by the window, on the right hand side.

When the snow-capped top of Mount Kilimanjaro poked through the clouds, I broke down in tears. The magnitude of it just hit me. It is fair to say I wear my emotions on my sleeve, but climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro would soften even the hardest of hearts and bring tears to their eyes. Seeing Kilimanjaro properly for the first time, caused so many emotions came flooding back and with that a new one – the realisation of the sheer magnitude of my achievement. The mountain was simply a beautiful sight and I broke down in tears, recalling the journey I persevered through. I broke down in tears just as I did when I was greeted by the words ‘Congratulations’ as I finally made it to Stella Point after a gruelling 13 hour walk through various weather conditions. A walk that had begun at 1am after only around 4 hours sleep, itself after a 10 hour walk.

‘Congratulations’, when I was unsure what I had achieved but just knew it was something.

‘Congratulations’ because I never once thought about giving up.

‘Congratulations’ because I realised now was not the time to be stubborn when my guide Nile informed me (after promising throughout the 13 hours) that we would not be going to Uhuru Peak, my intended destination.

‘Congratulations’ because there are many things on the mountain, that you will not see anywhere else in the world, and I took the time to marvel in God’s creations.

‘Congratulations’ because we should step outside our comfort zones and challenge ourselves. Only then will we realise just how much we are capable of.

‘Congratulations’ because I had no idea what I was doing when I set off on this journey and knew no one who had done it before, but I did not let that deter me.

‘Congratulations’ because it meant so much more to me than simply ticking it off a list – I stood on top of my continent! I stood on the roof of Africa!

‘Congratulations’ because we Africans need to explore our continent more!!!

‘Congratulations’ because Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

‘Congratulations’ because even though I am way too hard on myself, I gave it my all and my very best, and you cannot do more than that.

Seeing Mount Kilimanjaro the day before my birthday was a perfect way to send off 28 and welcome 29.

Kwaheri 28.

Karibu 29.


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