The next time we hear from Aaron will be upon his return from The Roof of Africa. While he gets ready for this great summit, we got an opportunity to get to know him a bit. Here are 7 questions we asked him to get into his mind before his big adventure:
Q: Where does your motivation to summit Kilimanjaro come from?
A: Firstly, I’ve always had a fascination with mountains and hills. Wherever I’ve gone, if possible, I’ve always sought the highest place in the area. Perhaps, as Robert Macfarlane once said of those who seek mountain tops, I’m half in love with oblivion. What better mountain to seek than the highest free-standing mountain in the world? Secondly, I’ve been thinking about things that would push me beyond myself – exert and require so much from me – but have a positive impact on others. That’s another fascination of mine: grand statements. See, I turn 30 soon. And so I thought; “wouldn’t that be a great way to usher myself into my thirties?” Trek for a good cause. To give something of myself for others?
Q: How did you come to know about Trek4Mandela?
A: Sometime last year, I came across a sanitary towels collection drive at Dischem in Menlyn (Giveaway: Yes, I live in Pretoria). I then started researching about the people behind the collection drive. This first led me to Caring4Girls and the Imbumba Foundation and then later, Trek4Mandela. Immediately, I reached out to the Foundation. Trek4Mandela is an annual expedition to summit Mount Kilimanjaro as a way of raising funds for Caring4Girls, which is a sanitary towels distribution programme targeted at underprivileged girls at underprivileged schools run by the Imbumba Foundation.
Q: How are you training for the hike?
A: The foundation has put together an awesome training programme for all potential summiteers. On a monthly basis, we will have hiking expeditions. We have already done Suikerbos in Gauteng and Central Drakensberg in KwaZulu Natal. Outside this formal training programme, I am planning to organize charity hikes in Pretoria – Groenkloof and Wonderboom – as a way of simultaneously training and raising funds for Caring4Girls. Additionally, I have taken to road running and gym.
Q: What are some of your personal achievements thus far?
A: This is an incredibly difficult questions for me to answer. I summit little mountains each day, to use a metaphor, and I consider these personal achievements.
Q: What do you like about the preparations building up to the day?
A: Getting up close with nature and might I say, South Africa. The conversations I have with family and friends about the trek. The support I have gained from my social networks. The amazing people I have met and whom I will be attempting to summit with. The immersion in the camaraderie that comes with non-competitive sport, like the road running I have taken to. I think the entire process towards summiting will be one of my highlights of the year.
Q: After the tragic death of Gugu Zulu in July 2016, how are you still wanting to go ahead with this considerably risky task?
A: My grandmother doesn’t fail to remind me of this, but she is grounded in prayer and a deep spirituality and so only mentions it in passing and not as a serious consideration. It is tragic that we lost Gugu, but I am happy with the ways in which Letshego is keeping his memory alive. And now that you mention this, I think I should also take a tree with me on the trek to also plant in his honour. What is freedom? It surely isn’t; ‘do I have pap or pasta for lunch?’ It is, what do I risk? If it scares you, doing it probably liberates you. Just some food for thought.
Q: Have you thought about what your next major goal after Kilimanjaro will be?
A: Everest. Lol. Or Everest base camp at the least? You know what you also owe me for 2022, right?
If you wish to read more about Trek4Mandela and support the initiative please follow the link below; https://www.givengain.com/ap/aaronkhulu