2016 Trek4Mandela climbers on Uhuru peak Picture: Supplied

Marangu, Kenya - There wasn’t a dry eye in the dining hall of the Kilimanjaro Mountain Lodge on Tuesday night.

A distraught widow, a broken-hearted sister, and saddened South Africans who set out to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro while raising funds for sanitary pads for disadvantaged girls.

Some had only met Gugu Zulu for the first time at OR Tambo International Airport when they left for Tanzania a week earlier. Others had shared memories of how they had trained together on the Westcliff Stairs or in the Drakensberg in preparation for Kilimanjaro. But all gathered to remember him.

There were those he had encouraged and challenged to take part in various sporting and adventurous activities, all with fond memories of Zulu.

But it was words from his widow Letshego that left everyone in tears.

“We have been together for 15-and-a-half years and not once was he ever a reason for my tears. He made me smile and he was a gentleman to the very end,” said Letshego, who had done many adventurous activities with her husband.

A better banner

Kilimanjaro was just one of the bucket-list activities they had hoped to tick off as an adventure couple, but a key focus was on helping girls who weren’t as fortunate to have parents who are able to provide for their basic needs, as their daughter is.

“I had a banner written Adventure,” said Letshego, breaking down in tears as Zulu’s sister Luyanda consoled her, explaining that they’d planned to hoist the banner on Uhuru Peak.

“I’ll definitely come back to summit this mountain and I’ll have a better banner. That’s what Gugs (his nickname) would have wanted,” she said, weeping.

Letshego recalled the last moments with her husband, their last kiss, the last tight hug he gave her, how she was by his bedside when he started feeling sick, then shared her favourite scripture in the Bible - Ecclesiastes 3, which starts with “To every thing there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted.”

The Star

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