Chronicles of the Kilimanjaro Adventure: #10

This is my last post on the series of the chronicles of the Kilimanjaro Adventure which I took in August of 2016. In my previous post, I left off where Ulomi, the Managing Director of Professional Kilimanjaro Adventure, had dropped me at the Kilimanjaro International Airport.

LESSONS FROM KILIMANJARO

I have never felt so alive. I had set an impossible goal and had managed to achieve it. All my life I have struggled to finish strong. Here, for the first time, I had managed to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro Mountain. Yes, it was tough. Yes, I needed help along the way. Yes, I needed the guide to lead the way. But in the end, what counted was that victory was mine.

I related my experience to my Christianity. We all need help from above. The Holy Spirit is our guide. All we have to do is follow Him in the Way He has appointed.

But I also related this to one’s professional life. If you have an ambition go for it. You may not seem like you are ready for it, but go for it. Do not give up even if the going gets tough.

And I saw a lesson in leadership. To be a leader one must learn to follow. The greatest man that ever walked on earth was our Lord Jesus Christ. He has one of the biggest following in the world. Yet, while He was here, He said He only did what the Father showed Him. He learnt to follow God. The Son of Man was God expressed in flesh. On the mountain I had to follow the guide to reach the summit. In turn, now I am also able to guide others. Who do you follow? Don’t just be a soul drifting on the river of life having no purpose in life.

I learnt that it is good to be kind to others. Ulomi showed me love. He had a business to run but he took personal interest to go beyond what was expected of him. His young brother Hilary was always present, encouraging me to keep on going. Kelvin was my Rosetta Stone, always translating for me the beautiful Swahili to English and vice versa. The porters were dedicated and the guides friendly. All this was coming from hearts that really cared for me and for each other. I made friends at the Church in Moshi. I saw love wherever I turned. It was gladly offered, and I gladly received it. And I also offered mine in abundance.

More importantly, I discovered something about myself. I knew I was underrating myself. I needed to push to attain higher goals in life, whatever that may be. My background did not matter. The past was just only that, the past. The future has all the possibilities so long as I am able to face the challenges today. I was coming back home ready to tackle all the obstacles that were lying on my pathway.

Another lesson that I learnt was that slow is fast if one is steady. There are many ways to get to the top of Kilimanjaro Mountain. The one I settled for was using a 7 day route. This trail is best suited for rookies. It takes time to get to the top, but it also gives you time to adjust and prepare for the ascent. In the end, no matter what the pace was, I reached the summit and the rest is history. So don’t always fly at opportunities at breakneck speed. Easy does it. Just be steady.

These lessons could go on forever but let’s stop here for now.

My beloved wife, Cathy (third from left) and family (names on the next photo) at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, Malawi.
My beloved wife, Cathy (third from left) and family (names on the next photo) at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, Malawi.

WELCOME PARTY

I returned home to the best welcome ever. Cathy, my wife, had organised a party to meet me at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, the Capital City of Malawi. My three sons, Pempho, Uchi and Kuwala, were there. Aunt Hendrina and my two cousins, Vanessa and Wati were there. My sister Zikomo and my cousin Mada, with her twin sons were also there. Sabina, a sister from church who was staying with us at the time was there. And my mum, who had travelled from Blantyre was also there.

Cathy presented a bouquet of flowers. We hugged and kissed. This was a hero’s return. I felt so humbled.

We returned home and I took a bath with my favorite soap. I threw myself on the bed to rest for a few minutes while Cathy and the ladies were doing the last touch ups before serving lunch and it felt strange. All the time I was sleeping on the thin mattress in the tent on the mountain, I kept missing my bed back home. Now that I was back, the comfort was overwhelming. My body had adjusted to the tent life. Somehow, I was missing the thin mattress and small tent on the mountain. Talk about twisted perception.

A Surprise Welcoming Party at Kamuzu International Airport. From left to right, Zikomo, Mada, Mum, myself carrying Kuwala, Pempho, Wati, Uchi, Aunt Hendrina, Wandu, Vanessa and Sabina.
A Surprise Welcoming Party at Kamuzu International Airport. From left to right, Zikomo, Mada, Mum, myself carrying Kuwala, Pempho, Wati, Uchi, Aunt Hendrina, Wandu, Vanessa and Sabina.

I was treated to lunch. I was served my favorite food. There were smiles all over. My boys could not contain their joy. Who could hold back? We were all so happy.

In the evening we had a welcome back home party. Cathy and Aunt Hendrina had arranged for t-shirts for everyone who supported the hike. So everyone who came for the party was wearing the special t-shirt. It said “Ndimakonda Mountain Hiking” meaning “I love mountain hiking”. My name was cleverly built into it. Kondaine, my first name, says “love me”. And the short form Konda, says love. So it was saying “NdimaKONDA mountain hiking”. It has since inspired the name of my blog on adventure, https://Ndimakonda.com.

My family and friends were at this party. And still many more could not come. Dr Joshua Valeta, an associate professor at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources was the Master of Ceremonies. He happens to be a Minister of the Gospel at our local church in Lilongwe. He was very smooth on this occasion. My best buddy CK (Chikondi Kachinjika) – the Head of Finance at Malawi Parliament – was there with his lovely wife, and family friend, Isabel. How I wish I could recognise them all here. But let them know in their hearts that I hold them special to this day.

All I could say was thank you to Cathy, my family and friends. To well-wishers. To neighbors. This was beyond my wildest dreams.

NEWSPAPER COVERAGE

Cathy arranged for a reporter to cover my story. The summit was reported in the daily newspaper of the Nation, a respectable national paper in Malawi. It was reported by a renown sports journalist Clement Chinoko.

I was mentioned again, fleetingly, in another news article a few days after the initial article by the same reporter.

Later on my dad covered my story in his weekly column in Malawi News, the oldest newspaper in the country. As a father, he quickly declared that I was the first Malawian to summit Kilimanjaro. This was not true but he won’t have it any other way. Being a hiker himself, and having inspired the passion in me while I was still young, he was very happy to pass on the baton to me. Hence the excitement.

The rest of the talk was on social media. Facebook and Whatsapp helped spread the news and continues to this day.

AWARD

I was given an award by Ulaya Classics, a prestigious bodybuilding event that took place at the magnificent Bingu Wa Mutharika International Conference right in the heart of Lilongwe City Centre. The guest of honour was the State Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima. It was such an honour.

Receiving an award presented by The Vice State President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Saulos Chilima at Ulaya Classics Bodybuilding Gala.
Receiving an award presented by The Vice State President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr. Saulos Chilima at Ulaya Classics Bodybuilding Gala.

TALKS

I was privileged to give a few talks. The first talk was a testimony at the Church in Moshi. I spoke briefly before the summit attempt, and after the summit. The talk was well received.

Upon my return back home, I gave a short testimony at church. Our pastor, Pastor Wilton Mkandawire invited me back for a special talk on another Sunday. I delivered a one hour plus talk, to date my longest and perhaps most inspired talk on the subject. I’m forever grateful to the pastor and the saints at Area 18 Church for the privilege to speak before them.

Lastly, I was invited to give a talk at the social event for Mountain Club of Malawi. This was before fellow hikers, the majority being expatriates with extensive hiking experience. This was a beautiful way to wrap up my experience on Kilimanjaro Mountain.

I thank God for creating such a beautiful world and for putting in us the hunger to explore it. Kilimanjaro Mountain opened my eyes to such beauty.

Thank you for coming along with me. I hope you enjoyed the story and learned something of value.

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