For this mother of one who works for software testing company iLAB at the BCX/Telkom site in Centurion, Kilimanjaro held many meanings.
It was at first a personal challenge, but also a way to celebrate her life journey and raise awareness of the importance of relationships, particularly those between fathers and their children.
“As I started the final ascent on summit night, I was numb, neither excited nor anxious. I was amazed by my level of calmness,” said Kekana. “I just took it easy, one foot in front of the other, slowly, or ‘pole-pole’, like the Tanzanians would say. "It was really hard just before Stella Point (where climbers get sight of Uhuru Peak) I was in tears”
What kept her going was the understanding that the physical and mental pain she was going through, was not greater than the pain of those for whom she was climbing, those who grow up without fathers in their lives.
“Despite the nausea, headache and dizziness, I did it. It took me about an hour to do the last 700m but I did it. When I could see the Uhuru sign, all that I was going through melted away. Tears of victory were rolling down my face.
"A sense of healing came upon me and the biggest gift, that of freedom - as the name Uhuru means in Swahili.”
Kekana got the support of iLAB and her family to climb Kilimanjaro to support Fathers A Nation, an NPO which strives to equip men to be great men, fathers and role models.
The implication of absent fathers is immense, and has been cited by Unicef as the single biggest social issue of our time.
“I addressed prisoners at Leeuwkop Prison, and most of them shared how they had not had a father to guide and support them growing up, and thus they ended up in prison.
"I realised just how important fathers are in children’s lives, and that this was an issue that doesn’t get enough airtime,” said Kekana.
As she approaches the big 4-0, Kekana believes climbing Kilimanjaro has made her stronger for the challenges of her career, where she has just been promoted to service delivery manager, and her role as a mother to her daughter, “Pumpkin”.
She will continue to support her chosen cause, encouraging men to take their responsibilities as father-figures seriously, using their strength to love and protect women and children.