Warm welcome for hero

2012-01-28 00:00

THE mouth watering aroma of his grandmother’s cooking was the first thing that greeted Nzuzo Mnikathi (19) on his triumphant return from the South Pole to his Oribi home yesterday.

Mnikathi and the Unlimited Child South Pole Expedition team completed the icy 111 km trek to the South Pole on Sunday.

Mnikathi’s grandmother Ivy Ndlovu said she spent the whole of Thursday night preparing a big feast for her grandson’s arrival.

She said: “I know that he has really missed his granny’s cooking and I am very glad to have him back home safe and sound.”

On Friday morning close family and friends accompanied Ndlovu on the drive to King Shaka airport to welcome Mnikathi home.

Excited chatter about Mnikathi’s South Pole journey filled the bus as everyone shared their versions of how the story would be told.

Amongst the crew was Mnikathi’s younger brother, Londekani (12), who also aspires to be a hero like his older brother.

“When Nzuzo left for his trip he told me that he was doing this for me and all the other children who grew up without their parents.

“When I first saw the pictures of him on the ice on TV I was really scared that he would freeze to death out there. I am happy that he is home and I cannot wait to see him,” the youngster said.

When Mnikathi walked out of the airport arrival doors with part of his team, Zak and Barney Buchan, he was greeted by a loud cheering crowd.

Happy to see familiar faces Mnikathi rushed to the loving arms of his grandmother who started weeping when she saw his frost-bitten nose and fingers.

Obviously tired from the 30-hour trip from Antarctica, Nzuzo described his journey and how his team- mates gave him the will to carry on.

“When it came to the last three days of the trip I nearly gave up because it was really hard.

“Temperatures were reaching 50 degrees below freezing and us darkies are not used to the cold.

“During the whole journey I was telling a lot of lies such as I am sick or tired, but my team-mates pushed me all the way to the end.

“Now I am going to focus on improving my matric as I did not do well in Afrikaans and Physics, and working towards my dream of studying environmental science,” he said.

Back at the Ndlovu household, Mnikathi joined his neighbours and sat outside in the warm sun attentively asking Mnikathi questions and imagining the South Pole as Mnikathi narrated his story.

Inside the house Ndlovu told of her own fears about her grandson not making it home.

“Letting him go was very hard because I had no way of communicating with him. I only spoke to him once while he was away and he only asked about how I was doing. I did not even get a chance to ask about him, but I was praying every day for him.

“Seeing him safe and in good health definitely makes me feel better and I know he has a bright future ahead of him, I know it,” she said.

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