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Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane (1970 - )

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane (1970 - ) Awarded for:
Inspiring and outstanding achievement in the field of mountaineering.

Profile of Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane

Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane was born on 1 December 1970 in Schoemansdal, Mpumalanga. He completed his high school in Swaziland and became a golf caddy for some time.

The year 1993 saw the beginning of Vilane's career as a game ranger at the Malolotja Nature Reserve. After eight years at Malolotja, he left to work for the Bongani Mountain Lodge. As a ranger, Vilane's job entailed taking visitors on trails. One such visitor was John Doble, the then British High Commissioner to Swaziland.

Doble noticed Vilane's skills and thought Vilane would make a good mountaineer. They spoke about mountain climbing and Mount Everest and decided to make a pact. Vilane would climb the greatest mountain on earth and Doble would find him financial help and other means of support.

Vilane started climbing seriously in 1996 in the Drakensberg and summited Cathedral Peak, Mont-aux-Sources, Sterk Horn and Cleft Peak. He then aimed for higher ground, and in 1999 he proudly stood at the summit of Africa's highest peak, Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. Vilane knew he was destined for greater things. It would be four years before Vilane would try his hand at the ultimate prize - Mount Everest.

On 26 May 2003, incidentally, a day after the continent celebrated Africa Day, Vilane became the first known black African to stand at the top of the world's highest peak. More than anything, his mental strength was what got him to the top of the world. His summit in 2003 also significantly coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first-ever summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hilary and Tensing Norkay in 1953.

In congratulating him, President Thabo Mbeki said Vilane had done the country proud and shown the heights that all could scale in life.

Two years later in 2005, Vilane attempted to resummit the great Mount Everest. This time it was not for any personal recognition, but for a greater purpose. He decided to ascend to the top in an effort to raise funds for charities in southern Africa. Vilane's friend and fellow South African mountaineer Alex Harris as well as world-renowned explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes accompanied him. The three were successful in their expedition and in June 2005, Vilane became the only black man to summit Mount Everest twice.

Vilane and his team raised money for the Swaziland-based SOS Children's Village; Birth to Twenty, the Chris Hani-Baragwanath-based children's research body; and Africa Foundation, which focuses on education, healthcare and income-generating activities.

Vilane has gone on to summit other mountain peaks in the world, one being the Aconcagua mountain peak in Argentina. He aims to climb the highest mountain on each continent, and be inducted into the esteemed Seven Summits Club. To achieve this feat, he must still do battle with four high summits.

Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane has been at the top of the world twice – a place most people only dream of. He has demonstrated that dreams and goals are attainable and living one's dream is a fulfilment. As one popular South African song stresses, Vilane has searched for the 'spirit of the great heart' and now possesses and epitomises it.

Vilane is married to Nomsa and they have three children. They live in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. When he is not planting the national flag on mountain tops, he inspires ordinary citizens to tackle their own personal summits through his motivational talks.