August is birthday month for Bantu Hikers and in Bantu fashion, it was celebrated in the bounty of nature, people and perfect Cape Town weather. Cecilia Forest is one of the first few trails that provided the path to the first step in conceptualising the organisation that has grown into a family. Friendships have been made, students have been supported and a platform created for those who would like to give and invest in others. The views from these trails unveil the transformed land into vineyards, the southern suburbs and in the distance, False Bay greets the eye with hues of blue.
As residents of Cape Town, we are fortunate that areas have not been completely transformed, one is able to escape up the mountain from the bustle of the City and enjoy nature. This realisation was one of many that encouraged two young professionals to ensure that more of us get to enjoy this, our natural heritage. Yes, there are many hiking trails around Cape Town and they are relatively accessible but many do not enjoy them due to the prevailing perceptions on who gets to hike, the benefits of hiking and the location of the trails (reinforcing ideas that hiking is for those with means and living in affluent suburbs) and Bantu Hikers is here to debunk that and #occupyspaces, physically, socially and psychologically.
To celebrate, Bantu Hikers professionals and all three student cohorts joined the hike with a special appearance from Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research at UCT, fondly known as the Fab Academic.
The hike is moderate on the whole, it starts off easy on the gravel road then it puts your quads to work a third of the way, with stairs leading to Nursery Ravine where a pleasant waterfall (or steady trickle depending on the season). This is the perfect spot for selfies, a water or lunch break or just taking in the beauty the forest. Like every hike we have had, the trail may be familiar but the experience is always different, the conversations are new and the appreciation for nature grows. Conversations can also be incredibly engrossing taking you on an unknown path as was the case on this hike. “Some people hiked more than others” that day as one of the professionals jokingly pointed out to describe an unplanned detour.
Birthday celebrations continued at the Kirstenbosch botanical Gardens, where we could refuel, sing, share cake, take lots of pictures and continue to connect. The picnic was a celebration and a chance to reflect on the three years that we have been on the journey with Bantu Hikers students. The growth shown by the students transitioning from high school to university has been remarkable and the attitudes of those still in matric towards their work has been inspiring. In a touching moment of reflection thoughts, experiences and lessons were shared to encourage each other as we go into a new season. The wisdom was not reserved only for the professionals and the older members in the group but wisdom emanated from every individual there because experience varies and it makes one the wiser. Spot prizes where won, cake was shared and wine, proudly made by a fellow Bantu Hiker, was enjoyed by the professionals.
We are always overwhelmed by the love and support received to make this organisation work. It all began because a gap was identified that more of the beautiful spaces can be shared with others.
Let us continue to #OccupySpaces
- Cecilia Forest is known for its amazing views and the waterfalls (only after heavy rains). Be mindful of the numerous detours and the signs, its easy to find yourself at the foot of Devils Peak if you miss a turn.
- The trail is incredibly popular so expect mountain biking and canine friends on the way.