SA's mountain climbing heroine Saray Khumalo back home on terra firma

2019-05-27 18:49
Saray Khumalo. (Photo via Facebook)

Saray Khumalo. (Photo via Facebook)

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South Africa and Africa's mountain conquering heroine Saray Khumalo has her feet firmly back on terra firma after her successful ascent of the world's highest peak.    

Arriving at O.R. Tambo International Airport on Monday, Khumalo, 47, wrapped in a South African flag, was greeted by excited well-wishers who ululated and blew whistles and vuvuzelas in celebration of her achievement and safe homecoming.

On May 16, Khumalo made history by becoming the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest.

Also at the airport's arrivals hall was her son Azinkosi and other relatives, who Khumalo embraced, tears streaming down her face.

After a few minutes, police whisked her away to the media room, amid a throng of supporters, all looking to catch a glimpse of Khumalo.

She told reporters: "Not only is my family and my tribe, who are my friends... behind me, I am so excited and proud that the entire nation is behind me."

Khumalo said she was happy to see that people are motivated to summit their own Everest. 

"On the 16th of May 2019, I stood on top of Everest. I embarked on this journey to reach the seven summits in 2012, the seven highest summits in the world and so far I have done four. It was not just for a personal quest but it was something I embarked on an effort to educate the African child.

"Everything that I have done, I have done because someone invested in my education. I have done this through the (Nelson) Mandela Libraries project. We have built three libraries in Gauteng and one in KZN as well as the Dr Thandi (Ndlovu Children's) Foundation which looks after orphans," she said.

"I do believe that my achievement means, that in a small way, I took every African who might have been told that they couldn't consider their pursuit, with me to the top of the world. This hasn't been easy for me, this was my fourth attempt. The first two were unsuccessful because of natural disasters. The last one was close and yet so far.

"What was important was to... be able to try again, which we did on May 16."

READ: 'Black women can do anything,' says SA's Everest hero Saray Khumalo

At least 10 of her fellow climbers died or have been reported missing in their quest to reach the summit, including her good friend, the Irishman Seamus Lawless.

Khumalo extended her condolences to Lawless' family and friends.

She described him as a person with a "vast knowledge" of climbing mountains.

She said high altitude mountaineering is inherently risky and is something the climbers reflect on.

"I encourage everyone to continue making the most of their time they have because life is short. I pray that when we die, we die doing what we love and making a difference," she said.

Read more on:    saray khumalo  |  mount everest
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