Rosie Motene, well-known actress and television presenter, has reached new heights in her campaign against women and child abuse. This Proud South African recently took part in a United Nations initiative, which saw participants from various African countries climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the cause. She sent us a copy of her journal titled ‘My Kili Experience’. These are brief excerpts:

‘… I kept on pinching myself, still gob smacked at the fact that not only was I representing my country but was sharing a space and common interest with many other Africans, a common interest and passion, one that we all aim and believe in: ending violence against women and girls…’

During that night I had a stomach bug and spent most of the night moaning and groaning with stomach aches and mad rushes to the toilet. I took medication which helped it subside for a short while… I kept asking myself whether it was a bug or just nerves. Either way I was not feeling 100%. 

I dozed off to sleep and was woken by the sweet melody of children singing. The lodge that we were staying in was situated at the foot of the mountain and was inhabited by various rural communities...

My view on violence against women and girls: See your inner strength as a candle burning, the higher the flame the stronger you are. If you put the candle next to an open window, the wind will blow it out. Never let anyone take away your power, never let anyone take away your wind … Stand tall and shine bright.

Prior to us departing there was a ‘flagging off’ ceremony… The Parlotones sang a song which was quite a Proudly South African moment for me.

PART 3rosie
The rain forest was beautiful and everything I imagined a rain forest would be: lush green, quiet and tranquil. You could hear mild streams flowing in the background and every now and then catch a glimpse of Colobos monkeys swinging from the trees.

I suffered from pains and the constant feeling of nausea. I kept the feeling to myself as I did not want to damper the spirits of my companions. I also feared that if the guides knew I was ill I would be stopped from continuing.  We arrived at the Mandara camp (2720m) three hours after the rest of the group.

… We proceeded onto a rocky mountain with small steep hills… The landscape was breathtaking. We could see the rolling hills surrounding us, the mountains and small dots - fellow climbers who were moving at a much faster pace then us.

… After breakfast we packed and set off once again. At the top of the first peak, we all assembled together and took group photographs, each of us holding up our flags, waving them with delight and pride...

Maphoka from Lesotho collapsed and her body started convulsing. I have to admit this freaked us out a little however our guides took to the situation and dealt with it immediately. They knew what to do and instructed us to continue walking. Within an hour we saw her coming back feeling a little stronger.
… The temperature dropped drastically, we were now walking in snow up to our ankles. The climb to Kibu was incredibly strenuous and confusing... We arrived as the sun had set and the temperatures were at their lowest. I was officially frozen, my toes were icicles and my nose was running like crazy. Your nose constantly runs but due to the altitude you cannot blow as you could burst the capillaries. This causes a nose bleed, so the best remedy is to let the snot run and then freeze.

We were beginning the end of our journey up to Uhuru. We started walking slowly and after a few metres, the altitude sickness really seeped in. Whether it was a mixture of my immune system breaking down due to my tummy bug and lack of sleep and altitude, I’m not sure. Needless to say the spaghetti bolognaise became one with the mountain and my next 6 hours felt like hell.

I walked very slowly taking short breaths… I would snack, drink water, walk, vomit, water, toilet, rest. This was repeated for a few cold hours... A woman, who had been hit by a rock on her head, came down with blood gushing from her forehead. My guide told me to look away and I kept going. I continued bumping into people who had given up. Some were too ill to continue and some were on stretchers.

My Guide Winfred … got me to the peak just before Gillmans peak. I simply could not move any longer and he carried me down on his back… On my journey down I was crying like a baby as I so wanted to reach the peak…

On waking up to the beautiful sunrise over the snow-capped mountains, I heard about others’ journey up and down Kili and realised a lot did not make it to the top…
We then headed down the mountain for our descent. My body was aching and tired but I still had to stay focussed as the trip down was just as difficult… Later on I saw the after-effects of mountain sickness. My friend, Funmi, was carried on a stretcher…


On arrival at the park gate we were met by singing ladies from the UN and a camera crew who were there to congratulate us.Wow, we had done it, a small but major effort to eradicate violence against women and girls. I had really taken my passion to new heights.

Like our teachings on the mountain, we too will have to take small steps - one step at a time to change mindsets, attitudes and feelings towards women on our continent. Like the journey up the mountain, our journey will be long. Together we can do it.

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