Walter Rachidi has progressed from selling ice cream and servicing gardens to summiting Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Rachidi, from Mentz outside Polokwane in Limpopo, is in a group that climbed Kilimanjaro as part of Trek4Mandela initiative.
Trek4Mandela is an annual expedition to summit Africa’s highest peak on Mandela Day yesterday (18 July) to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Another group will be summiting on August 9 to commemorate National Women’s Day.
Now on its 7th the 2018 Trek will coincide with the celebration of Madiba’s centenary birthday celebrations.
Speaking to African Times Rachidi, who has cycled from Johannesburg to Polokwane for charity, says he was inspired by a friend Sarrel Nong’s interest and passion for climbing mountains and was invited this year to be part of the Trek4Mandela summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“As we are celebrating 100 years of Tata Mandela and for me to be part of this group going to Tanzania is an honour. There is no other year I would have chosen to go to Kilimanjaro than this year. You can imagine what the many thoughts that went through my mind at that time because I had never done that before, so my mind started racing and I knew this was an absolute challenge,” said Rachidi.
“To prepare I had to stop a few things I used to do like stop all my biking events and clubbing to avoid many things so I could prepare physically and mentally for this. The first two months were difficult, but I had to adjust and started enjoying my training sessions.”
Growing up in a poor background, Rachidi always wanted to be a professional cyclist and ended up selling ice cream at the Polokwane taxi rank even in winter to try and support his family.
After finishing his matric, he went to Johannesburg and started a gardening service, where he cut grass, to raise money so he could acquire a driver’s licence.
“Even when my gardening service was not registered it helped me get a driver’s licence and later I was employed as a Police Officer, as a constable, for about seven years and then promoted to VIP protection services where I found a way to start my own company, Hwibidu Group that does a lot of charity work as well,” he said.
The 40 year old father of five says that when he gets back from Kilimanjaro he will rest for a month and embark on a charity drive to build a home for homeless children.
“We are going to do a cycling charity drive from Gauteng to Limpopo to raise funds for homeless people in Polokwane, where everybody would be welcome to join us. Since the establishment of my company we have given away 50 000 pairs of shoes to school children,” Rachidi said.
Capricorn District Municipality Executive Mayor John Mpe hosted a send-off ceremony for Rachidi last week and encouraged him to hoist the district flag high.
“This send-off ceremony represents a commitment we have made as a municipality to support sports in our district, our role and investment in sports is unparalleled and well documented and it goes beyond hosting sport events and other activities that advance social cohesion and the nation building agenda,” said Mpe.
The Trek4Mandela expedition is led by renowned South African adventurer and motivational speaker, Sibusiso Vilane- the first black African to conquer the three poles challenge: The South Pole, North Pole and Mount Everest and is expected to raise enough funds to ensure that 500 000 girls will not miss a day of school and give much needed accessibility to sanitary towels.