Reggie Khumalo at the Malawian school where he gave art lessons. He hopes to donate funds to the school from the proceeds of an auction of his work.
Durban - Malaria and stomach cancer may have afflicted overland Africa motorcyclist and artist Reggie Khumalo - but so has the travel bug.

After being diagnosed with cancer and keeping quiet about it, the 31-year-old Khumalo from Gauteng with his family roots in Ladysmith, took off on an adventure which saw him link up with artists across the continent to jointly produce artworks. These will be for sale to raise funds for children needing school fees through the African Women’s Chartered Accountants organisation.

He will also send money to a school in Malawi where he gave art classes and to two young children he met in Mozambique who were guarding cars for money to buy school books.

Between skiing on snow in Lesotho, and having to halt for an elephant bull along a road in Zimbabwe, dodging snakes and lions in Tanzania, Khumalo’s eyes were opened to the rich potential of countries to produce food.

“When it comes to African leadership, there is something wrong. We should be rich. We’ve got everything we need,” he told The Independent on Saturday.

He was also made aware of the strength of African women, and was shocked to see shacks in countries other than South Africa.

These experiences came into the artwork he created, along with the efforts of people like Hage Nasheotwalwa in Namibia, with whom he painted an acrylic on canvas piece of shacks burning.

In Zimbabwe, he and an artist known only as Simeon, created a soapstone carving of hands with a tiny hole in them. This symbolises the way leaders see things, is not the same way ordinary people do, only seeing the world through a small hole.

“The hands block us from seeing the whole picture,” Khumalo explained.

In Malawi, his favourite country, he and Paul Phiri, at Nkatha Bay on the famous lake’s northern shore, created an ebony carving of Khumalo’s experiences on the road.

In the Mozambique city of Beira he painted a mural.

“The whole idea was to create a fusion. I wanted to understand their culture and art and get into their space,” he said.

With his money often down to just a few rands, Khumalo sometimes sold bracelets to pay for petrol and food.

The hospitality he received meant he did not need to spend much on accommodation.

“It was real ubuntu,” he said with a smile.

Of the hardships faced, he said: “I had days I rode in a lot of pain, but I pushed through. It definitely wasn’t easy, and the worst was that no one had a clue, because I’d kept the diagnosis to myself.

“I preferred it that way because I didn’t want to be pitied. I wanted to experience genuine reactions from people; and that is exactly what happened.”

Now, having completed his cancer treatment, he hopes to do more travelling to raise money for other worthy causes that are close to his heart.

His artwork will be placed on auction in Johannesburg on July 5.

For further information, visit Facebook page of The Ride and Artists Within.

The Independent on Saturday