Welcome of Saray Khumalo at OR Tambo Airport

27 May 2019

South African mountaineer Saray khumalo recieved a hero's welcome following her historical climb of Mount Everest. While addressing the masses that were present at the welcoming the Director General Mr Alec Moeimi said, "This is part of our recognition of excellence programme coming from our Winning Nation Programme, we are ecstatic about the achievement of Saray Khumalo for summiting Mount Everest as the first black woman which will go well to amplify the #womandla part and also assist in eliminating patriarchy as far woman taking part in sport and other important activities. As the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, we will forever be indebted to her especially for the role that she will continue to play from now moving forward in grooming and teaching all woman that giving up in life is not what they must be accustomed to. No matter the hardships they come across in life they must keep pushing and pushing. We will engage further with her moving forward."

In her ststement this is what Ms Khumalo said, "On 16 May 2019, I stood on top of Mount Everest.  I embarked on the journey to climb to the highest point on each continent in 2012 not only for the personal challenge but for the education of the African child. My pursuit of Everest has required patience, grit and determination spanning multiple years.

After my successful summit there was a mountain of media coverage around me as the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest.  While this specific trip was focused on personal drivers, I do also believe my achievement means that in a small way I took every African who might have been told they couldn’t consider a pursuit, with me.  I therefore wish that this summit will inspire every child to reach for their own individual summits.  

A mountaineering reality is that the summit is only half-way.  We unfortunately lost a team member, Seamus Lawless, during the descent. My utmost condolences to his family and friends. I will treasure his vast knowledge and the moments that we all shared together during the expedition. High altitude mountaineering is inherently risky and something we do reflect on when undertaking these challenges. I encourage everyone therefore to continue making the most of the time that we do all have.

While I might be climbing Mt Everest alone, I do want to acknowledge the often, hidden support network behind me. My friends and family have been my most loyal supporters over many years.  I thank them for being by my side every step of the way.  I also want to thank Vaimo and Garmin SA, for their contributions in making this specific expedition possible as well as everyone who generously donated to the Dr. Thandi Foundation helping me raise over R135k during the climb.  Thank you, Noel, your experience and guidance played a significant role in this expedition.   Finally, all Glory and Honour to God Almighty as well the Sherpas who are the unsung heroes of the Himalayan mountains.    

In 2014 I started an initiative, Summits with a Purpose, to take Ubuntu to the top of the world while making a difference in my community.  The platform has evolved, providing mountaineering insights and learnings. The page is also now available to any African mountaineer wishing to showcase a climb or make a difference in their community.

There are many more mountains to climb and more work to be done.  Watch the Summits with a Purpose Facebook page as I launch some exciting future projects.

Finally, one of the tangible ways to make your support of my Everest summit count is to contribute to the Dr Thandi Ndlovu Foundation (https://drthandifoundation) and the Mandela Library Fund (http://www.participateforgood.com/projects/saray-khumalo). Together let’s bring education to African children allowing them to also realise new heights.
I thank you."