Messages of congratulations were pouring in from all over the world for South African female business executive Saray N’kusi Khumalo who on Thursday became the first black woman to scale and reach the top of Mount Everest in Asia’s Himalayas in Nepal.
At 29,029 feet, or 8,840 meters above sea level, Mount Everest is the highest and most prominent mountain on earth based on measurement to sea level. Almost 300 people have died trying to climb Mount Everest. Four of these deaths took place this season.
Less than 5,000 people have managed to summit Everest since Edmund Hilary made history by becoming the first person to do so in 1953.
Born in Zambia, with a Rwandan bloodline and now a South African, Khumalo achieved her goal of becoming the first black woman from Africa to summit Mount Everest after four attempts.
On social media, Saray Khumalo was trending at number one with congratulatory messages streaming in from many prominent and ordinary individuals.
Khumalo had to be rescued from Mount Everest by helicopter during her previous attempt to summit in 2017 after she was injured during inclement weather.
After being on Everest during both the Serac fall in 2014 and the earthquake in 2015, she reached the south summit in 2017.
Through pure perseverance, grit and courage she decided to return to Mount Everest in 2019. During this expedition, she supported the Dr Thandi Ndlovu Foundation.
In 2012, Saray summitted Mt Kilimanjaro and in the process raised funds for the Lunchbox Fund.
Her mountaineering passion took hold and she embarked on a journey to climb the highest peak on each continent, not for herself but for the education of African children. She summitted Mt Elbrus in 2014 and Mt Aconcagua in 2015.
Khumalo became a Nelson Mandela Libraries ambassador and raised nearly R1 million for school libraries.
She is also the founder of 7 Summits with a purpose, an initiative that raises money for underprivileged schools through her climbing.
“My dream is to go higher and go further for as long as I breathe. To pave a way for my children and other ordinary people, so we may realise and accept that ordinary people like us can achieve extraordinary heights,” she says on the initiative’s website.
“To not think too much about the difficulties on the way but keep focused on the end goal and to take their hand, motivate them to realise that they too may dream the impossible dream.”
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Additional reporting, ANA)