What do you get for cycling across Africa?

I’m as disappointed as you are that I’m about to criticise a woman who cycled across Africa to raise awareness of…well…stuff.

Here’s what I learned from Australian woman, Kate Leeming, who just cycled across Africa, and spoke on AM this morning:

  • You can’t just throw money at people and think that’s going to fix poverty. There needs to be skills transfer.
  • Education is really important so women can read how to parent properly.
  • It’s all about empowerment.

So glad you cycled across Africa to bring back those pearls of wisdom.

I think we have been suitably reminded lately that being fit doesn’t automatically qualify you to talk authoritatively on any issue of your choosing. And yet, this scenario persists.

I don’t think Kate Leeming’s instincts were atrociously wrong or stupid. But to imply that the reason why poverty persists in Africa is because NGOs are just throwing money at people, or that no one had yet made the connection between education and human development is a wee bit superficial and a bucket load of egotistical. Do you really think, Kate Leeming, that of all the people who work in Africa, trying to alleviate poverty (I’m sure you met a few of them), these particular ideas had not been thought of and tested before?

I suppose it is a good reminder that when you turn your mind to a new issue and assess the situation, your instincts might not be wrong, but they’re quite probably not original.

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2 thoughts on “What do you get for cycling across Africa?

  1. Sushi

    Reminds me of…

    – The woman who paddled across the Atlantic and is now paddling across the Pacific
    – The dude who walked to the North Pole and the South Pole
    – The guy who swam at the North Pole then near the top of Mount Everest
    (all TED talks above)
    – The men who ran across the Sahara dessert

    They were all bringing awareness to some issue at hand, which is commendable, though probably effort inefficiently spent if the end goal was to bring change to the world.

    For once I want one of these inspirational speakers to admit that it was really about their own adventure. There is nothing wrong with admitting that at all. After all, without adventure, there wouldn’t be America, Australia, even Japan (though that was an easy trip from Korea).

  2. Sarah Fortuna Post author

    Hear hear Sushi! I agree, I think what we’re seeing here is disenfranchised adventurers.

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