We are a team of 3 mobile journalists, travelling unsupported for as many as 15,000 km from Cape Town to Addis Ababa, sharing people’s challenging and inspiring stories of sustainability and innovation.
Tatenda Mark (TM): Why did you decided to take on the trip or what you are trying to achieve?
Steven Bland (SB): For me, the motivation was 3 fold:
Having worked in environmental sustainability, I was frustrated at the slow pace of change Click To Tweetin large institutions incapable of moving fast or, competing for funds, or not understanding local context well enough. With an expiring S. African work visa, I had to leave. Click To Tweet So personally – I am trying to achieve re-inspiration through hearing the grassroots stories of people making change happen, and to do so by nurturing my creative side through film-making (never really done that before!)
– I love cycle touring. The feeling of setting out with everything you need on your bike Click To Tweet not knowing where you will sleep that evening, is the best. It cannot be beaten. Pure freedom. Having done a “beta-version” film-making cycling trip through Sweden in 2010, and cycled from Germany to London when I finished living in Bonn – I got in my head that every time I left somewhere for the last time to go home, I had to travel by bicycle. I probably won’t make it all the way to London this time though!
– Living in S.Africa for 3.5 years, and falling in love with a woman whose mother is from the Eastern Cape and father from Ghana, I became more acutely aware of the misrepresentation of the continent of Africa by people like me, and my own white privilege. I wanted to challenge myself, & others, with positive and inspiring stories Click To Tweetfrom the continent – to counter the negative prejudice we often find in the media.
I became more acutely aware of the misrepresentation of the continent of Africa by people like me, and my own white privilege.
TM: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced on your adventure?
SB: Health. For 8 months prior to leaving, I developed a glandular-based fatigue following a 10-day virus. Click To Tweet A keen trail runner, I didn’t run in that whole time. I had to stop cycling to work through pure exhaustion. My team-mates were very concerned. My participation in the trip was in doubt. While I somehow managed to shake that off about 2 weeks before I left, health has been a running theme! Infected chafing between my legs (lovely!) saw me off the bike for 10-days in a rather boring mining town in Southern Namibia. The inevitable stomach bug in Northern Namibia saw me laid low for 3 days. Click To Tweet And just recently in an eerie history-repeat, a 10 day virus in Zambia has been followed by swollen glands and tiredness…I just hope it is not the return of the 8-month fatigue!
I had to stop cycling to work through pure exhaustion. My team-mates were very concerned. My participation in the trip was in doubt. While I somehow managed to shake that off about 2 weeks before I left, health has been a running theme!
Team. We spend all our time together – cycling, filming, editing, sleeping, cooking, eating. We have got to learn about ourselves and each other – through trial and error, frustrations and arguments! Ultimately though this has been the joy of the trip – learning to work as a brilliant team, despite the challenging adventure we are putting ourselves through. We are I think beginning to excel.
TM: What would you say to inspire other adventurists like yourself to pursue their dream adventure?
SB: You are extremely valued in your job. You are very good. But you are not indispensable. You can be replaced. You owe your employer something, for sure, but not everything. Click To Tweet Your career, if you choose your adventure carefully, will not suffer from some time out. Click To Tweet Instead, you will grow into a person that is so much more attractive to potential employers. So don’t put it off. Life is short. And go into your adventure with humility, self-awareness, and with the aim of listening and learning from the people you meet. Anything else is, frankly, not worth it.
You will grow into a person that is so much more attractive to potential employers. So don’t put it off. Life is short. And go into your adventure with humility, self-awareness, and with the aim of listening and learning from the people you meet. Anything else is, frankly, not worth it.
TM: How can people get hold of you should they wish to know more about your adventure or support it?
SB: Below are all our contact details. To subscribe to our YouTube channel for instant updates of new videos, like our Facebook page, and enter your email to get weekly email updates of news on our website (just remember to check spam for the first message and add to your contacts!)
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