HISTORY-MAKING Saray Khumalo. Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - Giving up was never an option for Saray Khumalo, who made history by becoming the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world.

Khumalo, 47, said the climb had been the biggest challenge in her life of adventure.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you’re at or what curve has been thrown at you - just keep going, because the summit is just next door.”

Khumalo, a businesswoman from Joburg, summited the 8848m mountain on May 16 after three failed attempts.

Her climb was part of a fund-raising initiative to promote literacy and education by hiking up the seven highest peaks on each of the continents.

Started in 2013, the initiative raised more than R1 million within the first five years.

Khumalo said she drew strength from the Bible, specifically Joshua 1:5 - “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Khumalo also noted that her team did lose one member during their descent and that the second person who died had not been a member of her team. “Even if he wasn’t part of our team, it was sad losing him. Death is not easy to swallow and make peace with but it is the reality of climbing.”

She said her two sons, Ocacile, 16, and Azinkosi, 21, were aware of the risks involved in her expedition, but she had made a promise to them not to take unnecessary ones.

Her sons told The Mercury’s sister newspaper, The Star, last week that though they worry about her safety, they realised they had to allow her to do what she loved.

Khumalo added: “I summit with a purpose, which is to try to get more kids into education.”

THE MERCURY