500 sunsets- Solo on foot around the tip of Africa

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Dean Swart
Sep 10, 2017

As good a reason as any for an expedition

Many years ago I met a man who was in his eighties. He was dying from throat cancer. When I first met him he was unkempt, filthy and unshaven. All in all an unsavoury sight. He was also a truly unpleasant character, rude, obnoxious and unapologetic for the disdain he treated all about him. Normally I would not have bothered to return, but for some reason I did. I endured the verbal insults at disrupting his life and once a month I popped round to see if he was OK. Slowly he began to tell his story. He told me of a life as despicable and debauched as any from a bad crime novel. He had been a horse thief, a poacher, a diamond smuggler and a mercenary in the Congo. He had run drugs and generally lived a sordid life. He had long since come to terms with his life and made peace with himself about the life he had lead. Yet his life had been interesting, his life as rich as any out of the last century, the life of a pirate without the sea, an adventurer. The story was so interesting, that I offered to write his story down and I would have it published. For it was a life from a bygone era. A life rich in the telling. A life that could no longer be experienced in the 21st century and this was his answer.

He said “young man if there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is this. Do not read about the exploits of others, or waste your time with pictures or the lives of bygone eras. I am going blind and I am dying, one day you will be all alone, blind, going deaf and on your way out the door. All you will have left are the memories of the life you once lived and they just get richer and better with time. Photographs get old and fade away. In your memories, the sunsets get redder, more vibrant, the girls more beautiful. These are the things that carry you into old age and beyond. So go out and make your own memories and leave me to mine”. He was dead a few weeks later, but what he had said left a lasting impression on me.

So in short, the reason I am setting out on an expedition is to collect my memories, to live my story. To begin with, I shall go out and walk solo down the coast on a journey of over 5700 km. From the Namibian border with South Africa, to the Mozambican border with Tanzania. On the way I hope to raise awareness, instil a sense of pride in the fantastic environmental areas that are so abundant in Africa. To gather data on the general health of our coastal environment and levels of pollution. This will then be passed on in order to help further our understanding of the coast and the impact we as humans have on our environment. Hopefully, this will help to raise awareness and in my own small way, give back to nature, so that our grandchildren may also enjoy her bounty. As my survival instructor from Boswa Survival likes to say “We were all put on earth to live extraordinary lives”.

............. I am off to collect 500 sunsets.