In the time it took you to read the headline and introduction to this story, one child in Africa died from malaria. It’s a devastating disease that claims nearly a million lives a year.
And one person that knows, better than most, what impact malaria has on Africa is Kingsley Holgate – undoubtedly South Africa’s leading explorer, and the modern day, larger-than-life yet entirely humble interpretation of the legendary David Livingstone.
“King”, as his family, many close friends and colleagues refer to him, has contracted the disease around 40 times during his decades of exploring and adventuring along the length and breadth of Africa.
He was born into a life of African exploration, as the son of Reverend Arthur Holgate, and his earliest memories were of travelling all over the continent in an old 1946 Chev, camping wherever they landed up and spending many nights around campfire listening to stories about early explorers Livingstone and Stanley.
“In 1990s South Africa came of age politically, which gave us the opportunity to adventure more into Africa,” Kingsley explains of the remarkable exploits undertaken initially with wife Gill and, in later years, son Ross.
For their first big adventure, they pieced together the Michelin maps of the entire continent and put them up on the wall. From this simple idea emerged the African Odyssey expedition, linking Africa by water, travelling from Cape to Cairo in open boats.
“The wind of positive political change blew across the country in 1993 and changed our lives. As we travelled, so it was announced that Africa accepted our country following the elections, so we were like our own little family diplomatic mission,” Kingsley muses.
“In those days, there wasn’t even an SA embassy per se in Cairo, so our arrival down the Nile with the old calabash and the Scroll of Peace and Goodwill was essentially the first ‘official’ function of the new SA, the new Rainbow Nation. It changed our lives, as we became citizens of Mama Africa and chose a life of adventure for the love of Africa, the people and their cultures.”