100 World Class South Africans: Kingsley Holgate

2013-07-18 12:00

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Adventurer with a purpose

One could say that Kingsley Holgate knows Africa better than any other person on the planet, in the whole of history.

He’s travelled to every country – often multiple times – returning with thrilling tales to share.

He’s no safari tourist; he truly travels on the ground, to the remotest places, among and with the people (he’s said he always has a seat open in his Land Rover for a local).

He respects traditions and customs; he celebrates the differences.

He’s faced danger and death countless times, but nothing has diminished his love for Africa.

Holgate is a living encyclopedia – who else could tell us that until quite recently the Afar tribesmen of Ethiopia wore their enemies’ testicles like trophies around their necks?

Although he was initially inspired by the European explorers of the 19th century (Livingstone, Stanley, Speke, Selous) and followed in their footsteps, as well as racking up his own ‘firsts’, his expeditionshave become humanitarian – providing mosquito nets, spectacles, water-purifying straws, teaching aids and libraries, while gathering priceless data.

Last year his wife Gill died of cancer in a village in the Rift Valley, far from modern medical care – something, Holgate would point out, millions of Africans face every day.

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