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Within the next few weeks, my companion (Jephita Tumwi) and I will embark on a journey that has been a decade-long dream of mine. It is to be a foot journey and will ultimately see us completely circumambulate Zimbabwe, beginning and ending at Victoria Falls and following the borderline the entire distance.
When the Borderline concept was first put to me, I was a mere twenty-four years old. I am now thirty-seven and finally ready to put it into practice. At first it was an interesting idea that was worthy of conversation. Then it became a possibility worth looking into. Now it is a fixation, something that must be done, for so many reasons. Soon it shall be a reality.
Dean McGregor (a.k.a. Mac the knife) is responsible for planting the seed in my mind, all those years ago. Although the seed was planted in soil none too fertile and neglected much of the time, it somehow sprouted and ultimately sunk its roots deep into the bedrock. At the time, I’m sure Dean never believed his idea would develop into what it has – I certainly didn’t. But times change and ideas become imaginings which grow on us until they demand to be fulfilled.
It began over a cup of coffee in a dingy coffee shop in downtown Harare, some time in 1996. Hardly an inspirational setting, but Mr McGregor is capable of seizing inspiration in even the most mundane of settings. Such is his adventurous spirit and incisive mind. As with most brilliant ideas, it came out of the blue, without preamble.
‘Imagine…’ said Dean, sipping his coffee with a faraway look in his eyes. ‘Imagine going on an expedition right around the country.’
I didn’t realize that Deano was in inspired frame and his opening comment did nothing to enlighten me.
‘We do that all the time,’ I said. ‘The Valley, the Falls, the Lowveld, eastern highlands…. We are on a continuous expedition around the country!’
‘No, no,’ said Dean, in that patient tone often used by the inspired when addressing those in the dark. ‘I mean right around the country, following the borderline the entire distance, by means of manpower alone.’
Then he had my attention and he knew it, giving it time to sink in.
‘You mean walk the borderline of Zim?’ I asked.
‘That’s exactly what I mean – backpack the borderline. Although, I reckon I’d like to canoe the Zambezi stage, if I ever got really serious about doing it….’
Footnote: I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to those who are making this expedition possible: The staff of the African Expedition Magazine, particularly the editors, Mitch Mitchell and Alan Bunn; the director general of the Zimbabwe National Parks Authority, Dr Morris Mtsambiwa; Dean McGregor, Jephita Tumwi and my long-suffering family. Last but by no means least, special thanks to my best friend – you know who you are and why I thank you.
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