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Kingsley Holgate – Heart of Africa

Kingsley Holgate – Heart of Africa

Kingsley Holgate’s Journey to the Centre of Africa

Words: Megan Carter

Humanitarian adventurer and explorer Kingsley Holgate, known as the Grey Beard of Africa, went off on a quest to find the real heart of Africa. The true, geographical centre of the continent.

On 24 August 2015, Kingsley and his team’s official send-off at Lesedi Cultural village, in the Cradle of Humankind north of Johannesburg, was a joyful affair filled with song, dance and real African spirit. A team of scientists from the University of Cape Town, backed by the International Geographical Union, have given Kingsley the definitive GPS coordinates of the centre of Africa’s exact location, in the Republic of Congo. The GPS co-ordinates are 17.05291°E, 2.07035°N.

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“We have been hugely privileged to have explored Africa in the vast ways that we have – we’ve been to single country including her island states and we’ve gone around the world on the Tropic of Capricorn,” said Kingsley. “But always, especially over the past three to four years, we’ve felt this need that what we still have to do is define, trace, discover if you like, the true heart of Africa.”

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At the ceremony at Lesedi Kingsley was handed a stick to place as a beacon at this geographical centre. “We don’t want to be seen as a bunch of South Africans marching in there to put a beacon in someone else’s country,” he said. “Rather, it’s been a collaboration between us and the people and government of Congo Brazzaville. Symbolically this is the stick that gives us the power to breathe.”

The 3200km journey is expected to take three months. Kingsley said that he and his team had the same humanitarian objectives on this expedition as on other trips, such as providing mosquito nets to malaria-stricken areas, helping the poor-sighted with spectacles, giving ‘life straws’ for clean water, but that they were also using this expedition to launch elephant art for kids to raise awareness of the plight of the African elephant. “One hundred elephants are killed every day,” said Kingsley. “It’s unacceptable. This poaching has to stop.”

The team is also taking with them some water taken from a little spring in the Cradle of Humankind that morning, and poured into a traditional gourd found on shores of Lake Turkana in the Kenyan Rift Valley. “There’s another Cradle of Humankind there at Kobi Fora, so all this is about African symbolism.”

To have this gourd handed over to the team in an African ceremony by a team of Pan African dancers makes it a truly traditional African experience. Hamba kahle.

For more information visit The Kingsley Holgate Foundation

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