Africa, the Outside Edge

Oct 20, 2007
Author: Kingsley Holgate

A further episode in the story of modern day explorer Kingsley Holgate and the yearlong humanitarian journey around Africa following the coastline, known as Africa, the Outside Edge…

Blog 14 - BENIN

What happens when two South African expeditions meet

It’s wonderful when two expeditions meet. We’d first heard about three crazy South Africans who were “surfing their brains out” from Cape Town to London up the West Coast when we were in Mayumba in Gabon.

Aah!! You’ve just missed the South Africans, the surfing dudes. They couldn’t believe the waves here in Gabon. They are travelling in an old Land Cruiser.

And again in Libreville: “You’ve just missed the surfers,” said Anneke van Veenswijk-Nel from the South African Embassy.

Finally we meet on the coast of Benin. What a coincidence, they happen to drive past a backstreet where we are parked and we arrange to meet a few nights later near the Gates of No Return outside the voodoo capital of Ouidah.

What a party – we drink Captain Morgan from the Landie tank and can you believe it, as a celebration for the two expeditions meeting and given that we’ve got a group of Land Rover journalists with us, we have a full on peri-peri feast complete with Nando’s sauce and some flat chickens that Marc Schreuder, the Nando’s man in Nigeria, had organised for us in Lagos.

We exchange stories of the road, winching and pushing through the forests of Gabon, the beautiful beaches. Their names are Michael “Stone” Sternberg, Tim Harris and John “Lucks” Fleming. The waves crash on the beach, we sit around a roaring fire. They stick their African Surfer decal into the Scroll of Peace and Goodwill we are carrying around Africa.

Next day they assist us with the Grindrod supported distribution of life saving mosquito nets and at Grand Popo before we say: “Cheers! and see you somewhere again up the coast of Africa,” they ask us to do a naming ceremony for their old Cruiser. Ross comes up with the Swahili name Mze Kobe, The Old Tortoise, which we print and sign off on the back of their vehicle. Good luck, fellow pilgrims of adventure, may we meet again somewhere on the outside edge.

Blog 15 – GHANA

Kids unite under two flags – South African and Ghanaian

WELCOME TO GHANA is written in big bold letters on an arch at the border post with Togo.

The Ghanaian word for welcome is Akwaaba and welcomed we indeed are. There’s traditional dancing and drumming and a mosquito net distribution day at the Paramount King’s palace with more drumming and dancing. The Paramount Chief sits on his gilded throne, near naked women sit on mats, pregnant mums and mums with babies line up for their nets. The Paramount Chief endorses the Mandela Scroll of Peace and Goodwill in support of malaria prevention.

And so our Grindrod supported humanitarian journey up the coast of Ghana continues with further additions to the Scroll. In Accra the director-general of education writes: “AKWAABA!!! Welcome to Ghana, the land of people who love peace – we cherish and appreciate your concern for the welfare of ordinary Africans – God bless you – BRAVO!!”

Dr Bernard Kwazi Glover who is assisting us with our One Net One Life campaign against malaria adds: “This is a wonderful venture and adventure. Malaria has been endemic in this part of West Africa for centuries – in fact in colonial times the area was referred to as the ‘white man’s grave’ – caused by malaria. This venture will make a difference.”

Yao Dzide writes that “Malaria is still a major killer and that the long-lasting mosquito nets we are distributing will drastically help in reducing malaria, especially in children.”

Last night the South African ambassador in Ghana at a dinner party in our honour wrote this message: “Thank you for flying the flag of our Rainbow Nation in a noble mission of saving and improving lives.”

It’s great when people appreciate what we are trying to do as our adventure to improve and save lives continues up the West Coast of Africa.

Blog 16 – GHANA

Greetings from Ghana where the expedition has just had the privilege of meeting his royal majesty Otunfuo Osei Tutu II, the Ashanti King who adds these words to the expedition scroll: “The manhyia palace seat of the Asante Kingdom is happy to be associated with this crusade to rid malaria… Africa is grateful.”

Down on the gold coast of Ghana we have great success in using the historic forts and castles as distribution points for the Grindrod supported One Net One Life campaign. Each pregnant mum and those with children under the age of five gets a stamped Africa Outside Edge ticket which they exchange for a life saving mosquito net.

It's a great humanist turn about giving out these nets in the same courtyards and on the same steps from which tens of thousands of slaves were exported to the new world, part of the horrific trade in human flesh, so its good that we distribute life saving nets from these same historic locations.

But it is not always easy. The humidity is as thick as golden syrup and we have to doge the constant rain storms – we are on our way to the Ivory Coast and have been warned about security and armed roadblocks. Its back into Francophone Africa – I know we’ll miss the friendly hello’s of English speaking Ghana.

We distribute hundreds of life-saving nets at forts and castles on the Ghana Slave Coast



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