Ayanda Mpama Picture: Nokuthula Zwane
Actress and singer Ayanda Mpama is putting her celebrity status to good use, having joined other local mountain climbing enthusiasts who will be taking part in the annual Trek4Mandela Kilimanjaro climb in July.

On Sunday, June 18, Aya, as she is commonly known, invited close family and friends to a fundraising event in Fourways, North of Joburg.

Mpama said the trek was expensive and asked anyone who can afford to pledge a donation.

As a performing artist, Mpama entertained guests with some songs, providing motivation for why they should donate for her trip. 

The 33-year-old said she was excited about the Trek4Mandela climb and had officially started her training in February.

She said she had always been an active person but was aware of the intensity of a mountain climb. “I’ve always been into fitness and I'm an active person, doing boot camps, yoga and spinning classes.

“But doing uKhahlamba- Drakensberg Park was quite hectic. At some point you are literally rock climbing which was very challenging,” said Mpama.

Her training schedule varies as she takes on the Westcliff stairs three times a week and sometimes over the weekend at the Drakensberg mountains.

She decided to join the Trek4Mandela campaign because of her desire for self-introspection and her love for nature and charity work.

“I have always had a thing for mountains and nature. In fact my favourite place in the whole world to go to is the Drakensberg. When I was young we would go there all the time for school trips. I have always felt really happy and peaceful there,” she said.

“This year I was taking stock of where my life is at, what I want to do etc. In terms of what I have done and what I have not done. I asked myself, okay, Ayanda what are the things you haven’t done that you have always wanted to do? And the first thing was Kilimanjaro.”

Reflecting on the travails of last year’s Trek4Mandela team, who had racing driver Gugu Zulu's death to contend with, Mpama said she was even more inspired to join the team this year.

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“I thought back to last year when Gugu Zulu passed away and I remember the press conference when Sibusiso Vilane, the team leader, was addressing the media. He was crying and saying sorry to everybody for Gugu dying. For me, I was like, this has to be one of the most beautiful moments where a person is taking responsibility to that level. So I thought, well, if I am going to climb Kilimanjaro, I am going to climb Kilimanjaro with that man. Because I will trust him up that mountain,” said Mpama.

Vilane gave her the option to do the climb normally or join the trek, and she excitingly accepted the trek option because it means that she would be given the opportunity to give back to the community, especially girls.

“It is no longer just about myself climbing. It’s about giving back to the girl child and making sure that they don’t go without sanitary towels and don’t miss out on school,” she said.

In March, Mpama officially joined the chief executive of the Imbumba Foundation, Richard Mabaso, and other Trek4Mandela candidates to distribute sanitary towels under the Caring4Girls campaign.

She said the campaign highlighted how many girls go without sanitary pads and miss school, which shocked her.

The As A Woman singer said although she had a son, she appreciated the girl child and wanted to help make a difference in their lives.

* To donate towards Mpama, SMS "AyaMpama" to 42513. Each Trek4Mandela pledge is R30.

The Star