Every week CNN International’s African Voices highlights Africa’s most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera. This week they profile Sibusiso Vilane, the first black African to climb Mount Everest.
- South African Sibusiso Vilane is the first black African to climb Mount Everest
- Vilane has scaled the highest mountains on seven continents
- He spent 12 years working in the bush as a conservationist
In 2003, Sibusiso Vilane conquered Mount Everest becoming the first black man to do so.
“Realizing that finally I was there, that the message that I had been carrying for 60 days, that we Africans can reach great heights, was all over the world — the feeling was even if I could collapse at that time and pass out and die, I would not have had a problem. I would have been the happiest person ever,” Vilane says.
The news of his landmark ascent made headlines across the world and turned Vilane into an instant celebrity in South Africa.
“It was amazing because when I left I didn’t think that the whole country was going to be so excited and so cheerful,” Vilane says.
Nelson Mandela hailed him “a real hero,” while then-President Thabo Mbeki said his feat had made all South Africans “stick out our chests in justifiable pride and wonder.” Read more here
In January 2008, Vilane became the first black African to walk completely unassisted to the South Pole — “unassisted” meaning that Vilane, along with his summit partner Alex Harris, undertook the journey on foot, dragging all their food and equipment — weighing 130 kilograms — behind them.
Interestingly, Sibusiso believes that mountaineering is not a black man’s sport
Watch his interview with CNN African voices below to find out why…
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