Car rideto Machame Gate. We walked up for 5hours through forest and camped at Machame Camp at 3100m. Una sabi say I be London and Niger delta pickin. All na sea level. 3,100m high o! Na yam?!
First mistake- felt sorry for porters and carried almost 13kg in my rack sack. Persn wan die! Tomorrow will carry as little as possible.
Night was cold. Shared tight tent with Steve. Both of us long pass the tent. See suffer as persin bend knee as space no dey to extend leg.
My first birthday on a mountain! This very time in 1964 my mama was still pregnant.
Sweet mountain, I mean sweet mother
I no forget you
For the suffer I dey suffer, I mean suffer wey you suffer for me o!
The group sing the happy birthday song to me at breakfast. How kind of them. No cake though.
We climb onto Shira plateau walking for 5 hours.
We camp at Shira caves; 3,840m. During the day while walking one switches to automatic pilot. You just keep on walking, hour after hour with eyes fixed on the path. The tour guides encourage with ‘pole pole’. On the small track we keep left when porters approach. They walk with thestrength and agility of mountain goats. Some dey even smoke join.
Tonight it rained all night. I shivered to nonsense. By 2am I when out to wee. When I turned round all the tents looked the same. Chineke! Who send me this Kilimanjaro wahala? If you climb wrong tent, woman scream you, don become rapist be that. Na so I dey shiver for darkness with head torch for head laik South African miner till I find my tent come zip am open. See smell of boots wey greet me. Chai!
Another birthday, this time Kim. We sang at the breakfast table. All my body ached and there was no appetite. Ray the oga encouraged us to eat for fuel. Me wey I no dey chop breakfast for house. Dem come sef one kain Oats eh. The thing be like a hybrid of Ogi and Popo garri (tapioca). Man chop but nausea follow. For some reason I assumed mobiles and transitor radios will not pick up signals. Na lie. People were texting and receiving calls. You could even listen to the newsin Swahili,(Understanding am na different thing).
As we come dey waka forest finis we enter moorland. All the A3 in geographywey I take shine for St Finbarr’s Akoka begin return to my Okuta Oblongata (Na real grade, no expo). African rift valley system, collision of the African and Eurasian continental plates. E bi laik I don take all the knowledge drink garri. Na the Bible knowledge one sweet me pass ojare. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, case closed.
We walked pass moorland into a lunar desert. Rocks, dust and more rocks. There was a strange looking plant, Like Palm tree were gather Kwashiokor. Shunts trunk with leaves at the top – Senecio Kilimanjari.
Reminded me of all those cowboy films. When I was young I wondered why cowboys woke and climbed their horse begin go. No baff. Shebi none of us don baff. Nobody dey baff onto mountain o! No wonder Moses vex when im reach down dey hear hip hop music. Forty days of suffer. No be say im get porter to dey carry im load. Na commandment e dey write , no chop. Chai!. If na Babawilly I for homicide Aaron one time, break all the tablet of stone on im cranium make e see as e sweet. Golden calf ko golden delicious ni.
Anyway, we walked up to the ‘lava tower’ at 4,800m (for acclimatisation) and walked back down to Barranco Hut at 3,900m). Talk about the grand old duke of York! Which kind yawa be this?Going down I lost co-ordination and gave my bag to a porter called Freddy who looked sixty. He had to carry a rucksack on his back and one his chest. E dey smile as e sabi say I go do something for am.
That evening I was extremely tired. The group doctor came over for a quit word. He felt I was struggling and may have to send me down if things didn’t improve tomorrow. I was disappointed but wetin man go do?
I slept well that night and was reciting a song to myself through the night
–those who wait on the lord, shall renew their strength.
–They shall mount up with wings as Eagles. They shall run and not be weary,
–They shall walk and not faint.
–Lord I wait, Lord I wait one you.
That night I dreamt I was in a battle with a vampire like creature. Suffice to sayI brutally stabbed it through the heart. (God punish wicked people dem/ Holy Ghost fire burn dem!).
Today na today. Before us was Barranco wall! A huge climb. First we descend into a ravine then started the rocky tiresome climb. I had fire in my belly today. Scree formedthe terrain. Now when I sneezed onto my white tissue paper it was full of dusty catarrh. The temperature slowly stated to drop as we gained height. The views were fantastic. Today I got really scared. It was at kiss the rock time. Here the path came to a point were a big bolder stuck out. You held a rock with your left hand then swing your hand hand and foot across to the other side then get pulled up. If you fell backward at the point, its all over. We all kissed the rock successfully. It was interesting to come to a stream to stock up on water. The Glaciers at the top melt and provide a constant stream. Without the streams climbing the mountain will prove difficult. We put Puritab tablets in the water 30 minutes before drinking. It taste like drinking out of Federal palace hotel’s swimming pool.
We walked for about 8 hours toBarafu camp at 4,600m. Na here trouble start.
The plan was to have supper and sleep for 3 hours then wake up at midnight for the all night walk towards the summit. Dressing for the summit meant layers and layers of clothing which we all slept in.
By the time we were woken up at 12.10am I never even enta gear one of sleep. Bodi no bi fayawood!
Thursday 13-10-05; 12.30am
With head torch in place we started the walk towards the summit in darkness. One had to fix one’s yes on the path as a wrong step could mean injury. By about 5am I began to wane. By 6.30am the journey was over for me. I was going so ‘pole pole’ I had to stop. Ray our oga their his best to urge me on but I was just to nauseous and exhausted. I porter was found to take me down. The sun was rising over mount Meru and it began to warm up my frozen toes. I told the porter whose name was Whitey to give a chance to rest. He advised we go back down due to the –10C temperature. Inactivity will make us hypothermic. Na lie. Man nak rack sac as pillow begin dose. Next minute I was vomiting profusely. Better out than in as they say. I dosed and froze for 1 hour then began theclimb down stopping to catch my breath every 10 minutes. I tried my water bottle and it
was half frozen. After a drink my temperature dropped and I started to shiver.
Whitey offered to hold my hand and I refused. E neva bad reach so.
We walk down for a few hours and it soon became obvious I couldn’t make simple decisions such as where best to place my foot when faced with different stones.
Whitey took my hand and lead me like a child. We got to Mweka camp at 3,000m and I promptly fell into deep sleep. I soon woke up and began to cry. I have too many problems in this life. How can I get so close and have to turn back? Is that not like walking over to success and taking a photograph with it but not actually achieving it? At least my pickins will know the direction of success (what ever success means) as their Papa don show dem, I thought to myself in consolation. But to be lead down like a child. Nobody has held my hand and lead me anywhere for years. Not since that riot broke out when I won MR Uniben in 1983 (or was it 1984?) and had to be smuggled out of the main auditorium at Ugbowo campus to escape flying bottles. I still remember lying on the floor of Chinaku’s car. (Me sef, I be coward sometimes o!). Then there was my late father who lost his sight and had to be lead like a child. I cried for all my problems then dosed.
The rest of the group came back and we were all too ill for super. There was so much leftovers tonight.
I slept very well at Mweka camp tonight.