The owner of the most famous beard in Africa has spent the past two decades improving lives through adventure, says Murray Williams.
Cape Town - Somewhere in Africa, there’s a little girl named “Mia”. And in her case, she was given this name for a very precious reason. For she was, indeed, “Made In Africa”!
She’s the daughter of Ross Holgate, granddaughter of Kingsley.
And she was born into a family that was not only “Made in Africa”, but “Made For Africa”.
To explain: We were sitting in a Land Rover somewhere in Africa – Togo or Benin, Ghana or Uganda. Perhaps Malawi. Or Mozambique. Anyway. And Kingsley said: “It’s very simple: we save and improve lives through adventure.”
He explained: “The travel side of it is fun – but the difference we make: that means the most.”
The owner of the most famous beard on the continent, with his beloved, now-departed wife Mashozi, and Ross, have spent the past two decades circling and criss-crossing the continent they love.
Their expeditions are legend – like “Afrika Odyssey”: from Cape Town to Cairo following the lakes and rivers in open boats.
Or “Extreme Latitude”, a circumnavigation of the globe following the Tropic of Capricorn.
Or “Livingstone’s Last Journey”, following the route of Livingstone’s two black porters, Chuma and Susi, who carried his body from Lake Bangwelu in Northern Zambia to Bagamoyo near Zanzibar.
Or circumnavigating Lake Victoria, or the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana.
Or their “African Rainbow Expedition”, to the Somalian border in Land Rovers and a sailing dhow.
Or “The Outside Edge Expedition”, around Africa’s coastline through 33 countries.
On the last two adventures, they distributed thousands of mosquito nets to pregnant mothers and infants.
The “Right to Sight” campaign provides glasses to assist the hard of sight, allowing them to resume tasks such as sewing, reading and bead-work to help them contribute to their community.
“Teaching on the Edge” was a scheme supported by Centurus Colleges and Rotary International, to provide teaching resources and mobile libraries to remote communities to provide education.
If you listen to Kingsley carefully, you will learn that their work in Africa is what gives them their deepest reward – a self-actualisation far more fulfilling than watching, first-hand, even the most flaming African sunset in some wild, majestic territory.
And the idea of “giving through adventure” has caught on.
Think of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour, a fundraiser for Rotary Club of Claremont.
Or the Absa Cape Epic – supporting Cansa, the JAG Foundation and Qhubeka, mobilising people with bicycles. Or Riaan Manser’s “No food for lazy man” charity.
South Africans’ love of “doing stuff” is now inseparably twinned with “giving stuff back”.
Look around – it happens every day, someone embarking on some brazen physical challenge, while rallying behind a crucial cause.
Tonight, a Stellenbosch hotel manager, Andrew Dietrich, will for the second successive year climb on to a stationery bike at Somerset House school and will ride for 24 hours – non-stop – to raise funds for Helderberg Hospice.
Seldom does one come across an organisation as revered as this – people who go to extraordinary lengths to grant people dignity, holding the hands of those who prepare to bid this world goodbye.
So, to Kingsley, and to Andrew – and so many like them: we admire you. We salute you. We’re up next.
It’s what we do, when we’re Made in Africa.
* See helderberghospice.org.za
* Murray Williams’s column Shooting from the Lip appears in the Cape Argus every Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @mwdeadline