Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Alois Rwiyegura - French facilitator

Avec son pouvoir syncytial mortel, un petit virus vient de rappeler sévèrement le monde à

l’ordre. Il nous met face à face avec l’imprédictibilité de la mort et l’extrême fragilité de

l’homme, qu’une culturelle arrogance nous fait souvent oublier.

En ses termes, il nous fait comprendre que nous ne sommes maîtres de rien, et nous le

prouve, comme pour enlever tout doute de l’esprit de ceux qui, apparemment nombreux,

se bercent d’illusions.

Nos frontières, aussi bien celles entre pays que celles entre les religions, les races et les

classes, si infranchissables d’habitude, ne les franchit-il pas sans risque de se faire arrêter ou de se faire refouler ? L’érection de hauts et longs murs ne lui barrerait sans doute pas le

passage. Au sein de ces mêmes frontières où notre ordre est supposé régner, n’impose-t-il

pas le sien en frappant qui il veut, en faisant se prosterner devant lui même ceux devant

lesquels nous avons pris l’habitude de nous prosterner ? Peut-être que ce que nous prenons comme ordre est après tout un désordre qu’il entend corriger.

Dans sa démonstration de force marquée par une équité dont nous devrions nous inspirer, il fait de l’homme son arme, son agent contre l’homme. Ainsi, celui-ci, du loup qu’il a toujours été pour l’homme, devient un virus pour l’homme : Homo Homini Virus.

L’éviter, éviter de lui serrer la main parce qu’il a les mains sales, ne pas le toucher car il est

devenu intouchable, se tenir loin de lui car son haleine est porteuse de mort…sont des

conseils que l’homme nous donne actuellement à propos de l’homme. Triste évolution.

Il est peut-être temps que l’homme se remette en cause. Et peut- être que le Corona virus

essaye de lui tendre la perche, à sa façon. Mais nous savons que le seul moment où

l’homme accepte réellement de se remettre ou de remettre ses crédos en cause, c’est à

l’approche de la mort. Ces temps incertains où celle-ci rôde lui en offrent donc l’occasion.

La saisira-t-il ? Aura-t-il l’humilité d’admettre qu’il n’est maître de rien, comme le petit virus

vient de le lui démontrer ? Il a intérêt ! Et ceux qui ont l’habitude de prêcher, avec force,

que nous sommes maîtres de notre destinée, devraient aussi revoir leur crédo, et se

demander si nous sommes encore maîtres de notre destinée, ou si nous ne l’avons jamais

été vraiment.

En attendant, force nous est de constater que nous maîtrisons mal cette destinée, dont

nous ne serons apparemment jamais maîtres. Nous sommes sans doute destinés à ne jamais la maîtriser.


To most of us, there is nothing tougher than becoming a champion. To the few who have achieved to turn that dream into reality, the tougher task is rather to still be down to earth, while sitting at the top of the conquered summit. Humility hardy survives at those dizzying heights. Mohamed Ali once said: « It’s extremely difficult to be humble when you are as great as I am”. Like him, most champions believe that humble people don’t go far. They thus, consciously, or unconsciously, let humility slip away. Fortunately, there are no rules without exceptions. I met the exception to this one and had a chat with her.

While apprehensively tiptoeing into 2020 and pondering over whether there was a memory of the previous year worth taking along, one sprang into my mind. It wasn’t the most recent one, but it was the most empowering and certainly the most worth telling. The memory is about an exceptional woman that conquered the highest summit in the world and countless millions of hearts with it.

Not long before the end of the year 2019, I was invited to a motivational speech where the speaker was none other than SARAY KHUMALO, sharing her experiences as one of the illustrious conquerors of the Everest. The world refers to her as “the first black African woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest”, whilst many of her fellow citizens simply call her “Mama Everest”. I find the latter more affectionate and more appealing, as it implicitly credits her with human qualities, of which humility and generosity are the most obvious in her. Those qualities set her apart from many other champions and celebrities.

Despite her having reached the highest summit in the world and the glory that comes with, “Mama Everest”, as I myself tend to call her now, is still down to earth; and her humility is as high as the mountains she climbs. During her speech, she rebuked, in a very kind, polite, but uncompromising way, those who seemed unable to refrain from calling her a superwoman. As somebody highlighted it after an interview with her, she considers herself “a novice climber”; and is quick to remind those who are too enthusiastic in elevating her that “bosso ke wena” is not for her as, she insists, “I didn’t do it alone”.

Humility and generosity are, to me, the epitome of human values and, if not turned into self-marketing tools as we often see, the source of true greatness. Saray Khumalo’s humility and generosity are genuine, and so is her greatness. I remember her saying, during her speech, that she “couldn’t believe that everybody was beneath” her. This is when she towered the whole world, after her fourth attempt to reach the summit. Instead of basking into the glory that comes with this tremendous achievement, she immediately set herself a new goal: to give us all a leg up and take us to the summit. However metaphorical this is, it shows her elevated altruism. She has since helped orphans and streets kids with housing, food, schooling and libraries, and many other people with brilliant and instructive motivational speeches.

Step by step, with the same unbudgeable efforts she put into her ascension to the top, she is preparing the way to take us there. To her, everybody must be at the top and nobody should be beneath anybody.

While chatting to her after her applauded speech, I asked what was next as, according to me, she had done it all, in terms of climbing. No, many mountains I had never heard of still had to be climbed, the two poles, North and South, to be explored and…one country to be visited.

One of the mountains she plans to honor is Carstensz Pyramid. With its 4 884 m, the New Guinea’s highest mountain is the lowest of the list, but higher than the highest mountain of the country she wants to see. Will then Karisimbi do? That was the question to myself when she told me she was planning to visit Rwanda. But she quickly made it clear that she was not going there primarily for any mountaineering activities, though this could be part of the trip as Rwanda houses one of the 7 highest peaks in Africa.

While speaking, she showed me the 3 flags she had displayed on reaching the Everest summit: The South African, the Zambian and the Rwandese, testimonies to her continental identities, or rather to her global citizenship; and thus concluded: “My mother is from Rwanda, I am a Rwandese too”. “Me too”, I said Speechless with surprise, we hugged. And I felt on the top of Everest.

I have taken along this inspiring memory of the previous year into 2020, hoping that it would enlighten it and fill it with the values SARAY N'KUSI KHUMALO practices and preaches: determination, perseverance, endurance, generosity, humility, hope and poise. This is what is needed for whoever wants to be and feel, like her, not only at the top, but also great. And not only for the Covid time, but all the time.


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