Former UCT vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, is taking on Africa’s tallest peak to raise funds to support feminine hygiene, sanitary towels distribution and puberty education for women under the trek4Mandela annual initiative.
“Trek4Mandela organised by Imbumba Foundation is celebrating its 11th year with two expeditions in July for Mandela Day and August for Women’s Day; in honour of the 10th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death,” a statement by the foundation said.
Both expeditions will comprise of 22 esteemed climbers, 12 for the July expedition and 10 for the August expedition.
Phakeng joins Songezo Mabece, a radio host on SA FM and executives from the JSE as well as various stakeholder representatives who also share in the cause.
Phakeng said she has been training every weekend for six months and has climbed various mountains across the country to prepare herself for the worthy climb.
“I have climbed all the mountains in the Western Cape, I have climbed mountains in KwaZulu-Natal and in Gauteng. I felt it was important to not only expose myself to just one mountain. I did this because I needed to train vigorously to prepare myself for the big climb,” she said.
Phakeng said the mountain trail is 72km long and will take four days to reach the top.
“We will reach the top on Madiba’s birthday. In my preparation, I ensured that I consumed a lot of protein. I plan to use this climb as a way to conquer all my fears and want to spread a message to women that nothing is impossible,” she said.
Phakeng said she aims to dump all the “toxicity” she has been carrying for six years as completes her climb.
“I also want to immerse myself in the understanding that it’s not how fast I get to the top, but rather about getting to the top. I want to conquer fears of fear itself,” she said.
An excited and optimistic Phakeng said “watch the space” when asked about what is next for her after the climb.
Radio personality, Songezo Mabece who joins Phakeng in the climb said: “It has been a delightful journey to get to the point of presenting myself to Mount Kilimanjaro for a cause all about mainstreaming menstrual health and hygiene, restoring dignity and breaking down stigmas associated with it,”.
Richard Mabaso, Imbumba Foundation founder and CEO said: “I am so proud of our 2023 climbers and Trek4Mandela programme entering its 11th year. I am grateful to everyone who has committed themselves to the cause of keeping girl children in school by challenging themselves both physically and mentally to reach Africa’s rooftop on Mandela Day, July 18 2023. I wish them all the best of luck and they embark of this remarkable journey.”
Last year, both July and August groups raised enough money, through Trek4Mandela to support 5000 indigent girls from nine schools across seven South African provinces, namely Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga.