year-old woman diagnosed with cerebral palsy plans on pushing her body to the limit by climbing Africa’s tallest mountain.
Mount Kilimanjaro, which stands at an imposing 5 895m, is a physical challenge for even the most seasoned climbers.
But media professional and philanthropist Masingita Masunga is accustomed to exerting herself, as she prepares to summit the mountain for a good cause on Saturday.
“I’m turning 40 this year and I wanted to commit to 40 initiatives. This is about equality – specifically in terms of women with disabilities,” Masunga said.
“There is still so much inequality. This [expedition] is for the African child, the child of tomorrow who needs to know that anything is possible.”
Months of training
She has been vigorously training for the expedition for more than eight months, despite her physical disability.
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that impairs movement and affects muscle tone or posture. It is caused by injuries or abnormalities to the brain, most often before birth.
The condition affects Masunga’s ability to walk, however, she has managed to walk 10km daily in preparation for the climb.
Summiting the great mountain forms part of her 40440 Campaign, which includes donating 20 000 pairs of shoes to disadvantaged children, building 40 houses, and driving from Cape to Cairo.
“I like challenging and pushing boundaries. I always ask myself: ‘Am I able to do this?’ and my answer is that nothing is impossible,” Masunga said.
“The doctors told me that I would never be able to drive, but I learned how to drive, and I have a licence. Now I’m planning on driving from Cape Town to Cairo, so I can speak to young African children. This is for them, because I believe in acting on what I talk about.”
Her ultimate goal is to raise money to build a school and develop her own decolonised curriculum.
“What children are being taught in school does not reflect the African continent. I want to develop a curriculum that isn’t so limiting to the African child,” she explained.
“Africa must be viewed by the rest of the world as an equal, not as a follower.”
Lack of sponsorship
Masunga initially planned on embarking on her adventure up Mount Kilimanjaro with a team of 39 people, however, due to a lack of sponsorship her team has been reduced to eight.
“Getting sponsorship was the most difficult thing about this journey. It makes me feel as if people don’t see us as worthy of their support,” she said.
“I’m worried that, 10 years from now, I’ll look back and nothing will have changed.”
Those interested in Masunga’s journey can follow her social media accounts. A reality TV show of the expedition will be screened at a later date.
A crowdfunding account has been set up to raise funds for the 40440 initiative.