Mention of the year 2022 in Kenya, almost always comes along with a glaring political undertone. However, Gitonga Wandai, a Kenyan father, redefines our perspective of this year and beyond. Becoming the first black Kenyan to climb Mount Everest is definitely a big deal but what his passion did was much deeper and legendary than he will ever know.
His passion for hiking that started subconsciously as he trekked to school, led to the founding of a community hikers movement called Hikemaniak.
From organising small family and friends hikes to inspiring people with a metaphor that goes beyond mountains.
This is bluntly juxtaposed comparison of one mans authentic passion against a background of political euphoria and identity.
From the Base of Society to the Peak of Everest:
Gitonga narrates the story of how he finds his soul. From an average rural home to mental state that transcends the norm.
In Kenya, most people are aligned with capitalism and similar thoughts that are almost robotic. Education is packaged as a privilege but the erosion of the soul begins the moment a child steps into a classroom.
If Gitonga didn’t hold on stubbornly to his unusual passion, he would’ve ended up in the daily rut that imprisons many Kenyans, making them slaves of their own effort.
Luckily for Gitonga, his passion was his redemption. He managed to escape the preset system and curved out a niche that has seen many empty lives filled with purpose.
Gitonga: Journey of Thousand Miles Continues:
Gitonga becomes a rebel to general reason. He packs his bags and heads to Nepal to chase his dream.
He meets Joe, an aspiring filmmaker from the UK. They instantly become best of friends.
Connected by a shared passion to inspire the world with passion.
Journey to Everest 2022:
If you’ve watched the whole documentary and all you are still thinking of is Everest 2022, you need to rewatch it again.
There is a deep-seated subliminal message that is also glaring at you.
At where you are in life right now.
At where you’re planning to trek next.
Everest 2022 is not really a Gitonga project, it’s about bringing everyone on board. On board a thinking that goes beyond the norm. A sort of paradigm shift that elects for the resetting of our perspective.
Gitonga Juxtaposed to Kenya’s Politics:
Gitonga’s inspiration came from watching how his widowed mother single-handedly raised nine children.
With two more years to stay fit and build his inner endurance in preparation for the great ascent to Everest in 2022, there’s a lot of work.
The documentary of him preparing and sharing his journey on one end brought up the contrasting journey of how politicians are preparing (or not) for the next elections.
3 Leadership lessons from Gitonga ’s Journey:
- Looking at Gitonga, you can clearly see his passion and Zeal right now and his goal, motivation, and the plan is clearly spelled out. Looking at our leadership, there’s too much speculation, too much confusion, and the people are often left in the limbo until the very last minute.
- Even though his goal is Everest, he is not promising much after that… instead has already poured himself out to the community, he has already built up a string of mentees, he has literally left a part of his heart with every step toward Everest. In contrast, most of our leaders tend to do the opposite, they stay away from the community until it is time for elections and disappear again.
- Gitonga carved out his own niche. He is all alone out there in the blue ocean swimming gracefully without bumping into anyone. You could see the tranquility in his eyes when even in the splendor of base camp, all he could do first was whisper. Most of our leaders tend to crowd the same place and do (or promise to do) the same thing, there’s too much inside competition. It’s like a small aquarium with huge sharks fighting over a tiny piece of meat.
Manoeuvring the Mountains Within:
Many youth in Kenya are struggling with self-esteem and identity. They are trying to find their voice and see their path.
This is something that Gitonga is already doing.He hopes that by scaling the Everest, he will inspire his son Wandai and daughter Koko to passionately follow their dreams.
What he doesn’t know is that this journey is already inspiring people across the world. In a time where identity crisis is a major issue, finding ones soul and holding on to it is the bravest thing anyone can do.
Gitonga Wandai is a man with a big dream
Along with his team, Gitonga started Hikemaniak as an overflow of his passion. Here he has dedicated his time and experience to share his passion for mountains and leading people to fun, connection, and Self Discovery.
Gitonga has placed Kenya on the world map of mountain climbing and motivated people not to give up on their own aspirations. Most of all, he has challenged the norm. Through his story, he has said that it doesn’t have to always be that way. And he is right.
Listen to your heart because the heart is never wrong. (Well, mostly).
How can you Support Gitonga?
To contribute to Gitonga’s Everest climb plans, the fundraising pages are:
Top 5 Hiking and Trekking Groups in Kenya:
- Expeditions Maasai Safaris
- Africa Outdoors Safaris
- Kenya Outdoors Tours and Travel
- Cheetah Revolution Safaris – Exploring Kenya
Details and Contacts to the Top Hiking and Trekking Groups in Kenya:
- Hikemaniak: It consists of some of the very experienced Hiking and trekking team leaders in Kenya. They work closely with the best hiking groups in Tanzania (Kili Heroes), Uganda, and Rwanda to facilitate climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and other Mountains outside Kenya. Contact: +254721510057
- Expeditions Maasai Safaris: This is an award-winning tour and travel company. They started conducting local hikes and they have since grown to a big tour and travel company. One thing I love about Expeditions Maasai Safaris is that despite diversifying their operations, they still take hiking, trekking, and mountain climbing seriously. Contact: +254714 318944
- Africa Outdoors Safaris: If you are looking for a great outdoor company, then Africa Outdoors Safaris is your bet. They are very efficient and have been in the industry a bit longer, they boost with a big positive following. Their operations are broad, from Hiking to road trips to team building activities. Contact: +254728 839300
- Kenya Outdoors Tours and Travel: This is a well-established Tour and Travel Agency in Kenya. They offer budget, Semi Luxury and/or Luxury Travel packages both locally and beyond. I haven’t had a personal experience with this group on their hikes but they are worth checking out. Contact: +254735003535
- Cheetah Revolution Safaris – Exploring Kenya: Cheetah Revolution Safaris is also one of the best hiking and trekking groups in Kenya. Though they have diversified to other travel packages, their hikes and treks remain affordable and constant. They are your go-to hiking group. They also organize Mountain biking, paintball, and other expeditions. Contact: +254 724 337 652
See more at Kenyan Backpacker