Land Rover ambassador and Africa’s most travelled explorer, Kingsley Holgate, has departed on a unique expedition to find the Heart of Africa. The journey kicked off from the Lesedi Cultural Village, in Gauteng, on Monday 24 August, and will end up at the geographic centre of the continent three months later, approximately 3 206km from where it started.
The destination is a very specific spot, at co-ordinates 17.05291°E, 2.07035°N. This is the exact location that has been determined to be the Heart of Africa. A team of scientists at University of Cape Town’s Department of Environmental and Geographic Science used a method known as ‘centre of gravity’ to determine Africa’s geographic centre. Their work was also verified by results from the International Geographical Union. This same process has been used to determine the geographic centres of the United States of America and Australia.
The many stops along the journey will see Kingsley’s team and their convoy of Land Rovers visit villages in Botswana, Zambia, crossing the Zambezi River into Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally ending up in the Republic of Congo. Along the way, the convoy will be spreading a message of goodwill and also delivering humanitarian aid. The latter will be in the form of LifeStraws™ – a drinking straw that purifies water passing through it, making it safe for human consumption – as well as mosquito nets and reading glasses from the Rite to Sight project.
Conservation work will also be undertaken during the expedition. The Kingsley Holgate Foundation will raise awareness and educate communities, using its children’s wildlife art programme, on the importance of living among animals.
Hundreds of thousands of animals from many different species call Africa home, however human settlement and expansion are threatening these animals. Logging is the second-largest industry in the Republic of Congo, creating a thriving market among workers who illegally hunt indigenous animals for meat and demand for Africa’s giant mahogany trees.
In addition to using a specially prepared Land Rover Defender 130 for his journey across some of the world’s most difficult terrain, Kingsley and his team will also face other serious challenges. Poachers, bandits and hunters may be encountered along the route. Dangerous animals are a definite. And the unseen dangers of Africa’s many insects and diseases also bring great risk.
The end of this great trek into Africa will be punctuated with a Holgate tradition. Kingsley will carry a symbolic Zulu calabash, filled with water taken from the Cradle of Humankind, and empty its contents onto the spot that marks the beating heart of the continent where humanity took its first steps.