Lessons from the Roof of Africa

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. One year on, I’m only just started understanding some of the lessons I learnt. I’ve begun to realise that while important on the mountain, these lessons resonate with other aspects of my life too.

  1. “Pole, Pole”
    If you’ve ever climbed Kilimanjaro, the words Pole, Pole, Swahili for “Slowly, Slowly”, will be forever be engrained in your memory. On the mountain,  the words make sure you take your time as you climb, conserving energy and aiding acclimatisation. Off the mountain, they keep you grounded and mindful as you focus on each step and not the end goal.
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  2. Your biggest competitor is yourself.
    Altitude affects different people differently. In our group, some of the fittest people on the ground were left almost incapacitated, while some others were left completely unaffected by the elevation. So really, it doesn’t make sense to compete with anyone else. You’re going to feel the weight of your rucksack cutting into your shoulders, your feet will be blistered and bleeding, you will be hot and cold simultaneously, you will be filthy, tired, hungry and sick. And you will want to give up. The only way to get anywhere in life is to overcome that voice in your head telling that you can’t.
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  3. Adversity brings out the truth.
    When the going gets tough, some will leave you behind while others will rise to the occasion despite their own problems.IMG_9425.JPG
  4. Know when to stop.
    While perseverance and stubbornness are great, you must also know where to draw the line. Altitude sickness can quickly turn dangerous, whether in the form of pneumonia or a cerebral edema. Knowing your body and knowing when to stop can be the difference between life and death. Off the mountain this means understanding your limitations and reaching a balance between knowing when to push yourself and when to call it a day.IMG_9482
  5. How small we really are.
    We all know that we are infinitesimally small compared to most of nature’s other creations. However, knowing is one thing, experiencing is another. One of my favourite memories from the climb was the night before we summited. We all stood in silence by a sheer rock face, the clouds several hundred meters below us, illuminated by light from below, petty things from the material world melted away and in that moment, we were struck with the realisation of how truly insignificant we are in the greater cosmos.mt-kilimanjaro-climb-umbwe-route-5
  6. It’s okay to ask for help.
    Those who know me will chuckle when they read this as it’s a lesson I’m still struggling to learn, but the truth is, stubbornness and pride only lead to more suffering for yourself. As we descended the mountain, I slipped on scree and hurt my knee, despite numerous offers of help from the guides, I refused to be carried down, or even give up my pack. I saw this then as a show of strength, I see it now as a show of weakness. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, being unable to look past your ego does.

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Lessons from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa. More at http://getlost.live

 

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30 thoughts on “Lessons from the Roof of Africa

  1. Natalie says:

    Fabulous post — and your words are so true. In many aspects of life, we’re our own biggest competitor. My years as an athlete taught me that as well as when to stop. It was a tough lesson to learn. Lovely work!

    Also, I love your logo! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eman says:

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I’ve been doing martial arts for years and have suffered so many injuries because of stubbornness, it took Kilimanjaro for me to finally learn my lesson!

      Thank you! I spent hours on it, haha! 😀

      Like

      • Natalie says:

        Same — I made a lot of injuries worse by not resting as long as I should have. I’m glad the both of us have learned our lessons, haha! 🙂

        Like

  2. raneilsokhi says:

    This is beautiful I love it!! I was born in Africa myself and get really (well hyper-ly) excited when I come across bloggers writing about Africa! Try visiting Kenya when you go back, you won’t regret what you see! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eman says:

      Hahaha thank you so much! I would love to see Kenya, I was so disappointed when I wasn’t able to see it after Kilimanjaro, but I’m definitely planning on making a trip soon!

      Like

  3. Akoukou says:

    Habari, Great Post, Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is definitely a worthwhile experience. I remember when I was 15, i was in Moshi attending ISM and I always had the view of the mountain in my backyard. It was such a sight, and I slowly got the chance to climb Kilimanjaro. I started first at mandara hut, than went all the way to the third hut (Forgot the name now). I left Tanzanian when i was 16 to study in Canada, I wish I could go back to finish climbing it. Good times. :):)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eman says:

      Thank you! 🙂 How incredible to have grown up seeing a mountain in your backyard! I watched a documentary about Kilimanjaro that was screened in Vancouver when I was 7, I’ve wanted to climb it ever since, I couldn’t have been more proud when I managed it!

      Liked by 1 person

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