Explorers and adventurers are always out on the look to get away from the day-to-day bustle, grind, and business of the fast, flashy life within towns just to experience a glimpse of the dramatic unspoiled wilderness and amazing wildlife.
23-year-old Joseph Makowa sought out one unimaginable noble life-transforming escapade far from his daily life routine, to travel 1 500km on foot around the country.
One that lured him to go off the grid setting his pangs of wanderlust on a 35-day journey on foot around the country to feel the harmonious part of nature and charm.
The natural light, diverse vegetation, the canvas silhouetting of wildlife, breath-taking sunsets, sunrises, rainbows, and thunderclouds, to enthralling full moons and kaleidoscope of colors of the horizons of each town simply stroke an irresistible chord.
A mission and a calling that sprouted to raise environmental and wildlife awareness
Makowa did not know where he was headed in his adventure, but he wanted to convey a sense of purpose that had meaning even if mundane.
Starting his journey from his hometown Harare, Makowa began “Walking for a purpose” and shared his expedition with CommuTalk.
Makowa says that his solo walk was unplanned considering its magnitude, but was inspired by the idea of being the first in the country to do something of that nature.
“This idea was not planned; my initial plan was to travel around Zimbabwe with a car but I realized that wasn’t going to be possible due to the roads. So, my mind shifted and decided instead of driving along the road that I was going to walk instead”.
“I realized that nobody had ever walked such a distance in Zimbabwe this motivated me to embark on the journey and I would be the first person to ever walk the longest walkable road”, he told CommuTalk
Embracing curiosity, open-mindedness, and willpower at heart were all he had considering the reality that he had no time to prepare and train before his long walk.
“I did not train or prepare for this walk. However, I visited the doctor to get a few medical tests to ensure my body could take up the challenge. One skill I learned was a breathing technique which came quite handy during my walk as it gave me more strength to keep going, he further explained.”
Makowa departed carrying with him a sleeping bag and tent, a battery pack, a few changes of clothing, some water, phone all packed in a bag strapped onto his back.
“I carried a few things with me I found handy but in terms of food, I did not carry any. My only plan was to buy food to eat at a supermarket, local restaurant, or kiosk. I had to limit the weight as possible.”
He headed into an adventure filled with a lifestyle of curiosity, uncertainty, and extreme vulnerability.
“Having to pitch my tent in the middle of nowhere was never an easy task for me. It was always frightening to sleep in the bush alone. There were moments fear gripped me but I learned to overcome it.”
It was the quiet ruminate times he felt a deep, intimate connection to the environment and its inhabitants that called him to advocate for Wildlife and Nature conservation.
“I started advocating for Wildlife and Nature conservation. Spoke more about the environment. The walk was a walk armed with a message and purpose this caught the attention of big organizations being Wild Aid and Nyaradzo. These firms have invested so much in conservation and they partnered to bring awareness towards wildlife and nature conservation”.
“I learned so much from this journey more than I learned in my whole life before this journey. I learned personal teachings, environmental matters, culture-related issues, and wildlife matters. Most of which would be reviewed in my upcoming book”
Steps came easier on some days than on others as each town made some aspects of walking easy and others more challenging.
“There were many challenging moments that I faced such as not having anything to eat the whole day because I couldn’t find any local stores nearby. I remember I encountered wild animals (hyenas & snakes), went up to 30km walking in a 29° burning temperature without water and as I entered the Midlands province, I fell sick.”
“My favorite of all the places was Bulawayo, it is a city filled with so much positivity, it’s so clean, the people are welcoming and the cultural diversity”.
It was quiet on the road at times, sometimes bustle of traffic and the rustle of the wind sometimes the exchange of words with fellow pedestrians and music to uplift Makowa described his experience.
“I met so many people along the way, every town I passed through I left with a friend or more. People were so much interested in my journey that they would always ask for my number so they could always check up on me to hear where I would be. Music kept me company with the messages and calls from people kept me going.”
Despite the support, at some point, he felt like quitting particularly to a physical injury he had incurred.
“At one point I felt like quitting. I twisted my ankle in Zvishavane I was so much in pain that I questioned my walk (he laughs) reminiscing. I trooped through especially after I had received medical attention I just had to push through.
Like the world walkers, Makowa attracted his fan base as he documented his daily progress to share online on his Instagram page Travelmufasa, posting pictures and videos under the hashtag #travelmufasa.
Makowa completed his last 18 km walk with the support of family, friends, and people who were inspired by his mission, but amongst his biggest supporters was his mother.
“I was worried in the beginning and I missed him. I am proud of my son and his accomplishment. I had to come and support him in finishing the last 18km of his walk”, said Rebecca Makowa
Tapiwa Murandu, a participant who joined to support the “walking for a purpose” says he was moved by Makowa’s Instagram posts and it encouraged him to join.
“I saw Makowa’s daily posts and his journey. It motivated me and when I saw the post to join him to finish the walk it was a brainer, I had to be part of this. He is courageous and this is a great cause. This is why I immediately had to travel from Bulawayo to Harare to be part of this.
After an ambitious start, slowed with the reality of exhaustion, an injury, and some shed pounds. He worked his way up completing the longest distance of walking1 500km in the country.
“I was proud of myself I had set an impossible goal to many and I beat the odds. Above all, I was honored to not complete this alone but with such great support from everyone who came. Zimbabweans truly have love in their hearts which they shared with me and for me, that is the greatest and most valuable souvenir.
Guy Jennings, a Consultant at Wild Aid Southern Africa says he was proud of Makowa’s accomplishment and that he was a young person moving in the right direction with a great initiative.
“I am proud of Joseph and what he’s doing. He is a young person taking positive action towards a great cause. We hope in the near future to work and support him on such impactful initiative”
Makowa says the walk impacted his life positively, learned valuable lessons and his next quest is to conquer Mt Kilimanjaro at a record time.
The major areas he walked included Marondera, Macheke, Headlands, Rusape, Nyazura, Mutare, Nyanyadzi, Birchenough Bridge, Nyika Growth Point, Masvingo, Mashava, Zvishavane, Filabusi, Mbalabala, Esigodini, Bulawayo, Ntabazinduna, Shangani, Gweru, Kwekwe, Battlefields, Kadoma, Chegutu and Norton
His legs grew stronger, feet more calloused, swathed with resilience and determination to power through. Somewhat arduous moments for a greater cause, Zimbabwe finally has its own roaring Mufasa.