African adventure for local woman

[Image]Jolandie Rust plans to become the first
woman to cycle around Africa’s perimeter,
without any help.

[Image] The route will cover some 40 000km and
span 34 countries.
(Images: Jolandie Rust)

MEDIA CONTACTS
Jolandie Rust
+27 76 167 2008
Verity Price
Hello-Africa
+27 82 685 5256

April McAlister

In February 2011 Johannesburg-based Jolandie Rust will embark on an epic solo journey to circumnavigate Africa on her bicycle. The journey, which could take up to two and a half years, will cover approximately 40 000km and 34 countries.

Rust is no stranger to cycle adventures. After matriculating she spent six months cycling around Israel in 2004 and fell in love with the idea of exploring the world on two wheels. This was the point at which she decided to cycle around the edge of the African continent.

In March 2008 she undertook her first solo trip, successfully pedalling the 1 500km from Johannesburg to Cape Town to raise awareness for her African adventure in 2011.

Not content with this achievement, she set off from Johannesburg in October 2009 to cycle right around South Africa. When she arrived back in the City of Gold in January 2010 Rust had travelled 5 951km and become the first woman to circumnavigate South Africa unaided.

She has named her upcoming venture “a journey of a thousand faces”, as her intention is to make a collage of the different faces from diverse cultures that she encounters along the way.

Kingsley Holgate’s 449-day Africa Outside Edge expedition saw the charismatic adventurer and his team using Land Rovers and inflatable boats to travel around the edge of the continent in 2008. Should she succeed, Rust will be the first woman to have travelled the circumference of Africa without backup or management.

She says, “People must dream big and focus on what is beautiful. There is so much beauty out there.”

Inspiring others

Rust is motivated by a desire to inspire people and to be inspired, to learn, share, connect, and prove that the impossible can become possible.

Starting off in Cape Town, her journey will take her north, through Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon, and Nigeria.

Here she will turn west, travelling around the Bulge of Africa and across North Africa, through Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Heading south now, Rust will pass through Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique before re-entering South Africa through KwaZulu-Natal province.

Supporters will be able to keep track of her progress on Twitter, Facebook, Google Friend Connect and through her blog, which is endorsed by the Proudly South African campaign.

Collaborative effort

Rust has set about raising her own funds and has received a lot of support. In Cape Town earlier in November, she spent 48 hours on a stationary bicycle provided by Tyger Valley Virgin Active. The event, called Stuck on the Bike, took place at the Tyger Valley shopping centre and although funds raised fell short of her expectations, Rust remains undaunted.

One of Rust’s supporters is Verity Price, vocalist for local Afro-pop band Hello-Africa. The group is putting their money where their collective mouth is by donating 50% of the proceeds from their upcoming album From Africa with Love to Rust’s venture. They are hoping for 8 000 sales, and fans interested in supporting the cause can pre-order online, making sure to enter “Jolandie Rust” in the company field.

The album’s name signifies the message that Rust will carry into Africa.

The band’s five members, including veteran jazz drummer Tony Paco, hail from Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique.

To date they’ve donated over R32 000 (US$4 560) of their album proceeds to charities, including women’s groups such as People Opposing Women Abuse.

Rust plans to donate a portion of the funds raised for her African trip to the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), a charity close to her heart – her mother passed away in 2009 after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

Based in Cape Town, the MNDA is a voluntary organisation founded in 1990 to address the lack of local support for people suffering with the disorder. The organisation assists patients and their families and carers with psychological counselling and physical assistance where necessary.

Motor neurone disease is a debilitating condition that affects nerve fibres in the cortex of the brain or the spinal cord, causing muscle weakness, stiffness, wasting and spasms or cramps. Swallowing and breathing is also a concern in many cases. Life expectancy is dependent on the parts of the body affected.