What we are doing
In January 2019 embarked on our dream journey taking on the challenge of cycling from Cairo to Cape, slowly-slowly (or pole-pole in Swahili) over the course of the year. The ‘Our Africa Pole-Pole’ is a passion project, with the aim of answering one big question: What do we want our African future to look like? We are on a mission to engage with our African sisters and brothers to explore this question together - carrying all our supplies, travelling on minimal budget and all about having fun along the way.
Why we are doing it
We want to have some fun and this is our idea of fun. We love Africa, we have received so many gifts from her and her people but feel we need to learn more about our incredible continent, first hand, by speaking to her people. We believe there is intrinsic value in taking the time to stop and listen to voices that are almost never part of the 'development conversation'. We hope that engaging with young people on these issues will encourage them to believe that they have what it takes to be change-makers. Also, collectively the insights that emerge will contribute to the understanding that international organisations and individuals have of ‘development’ in Africa. We hope that the fresh insights from the people we engage with will alter the conversation that informs ‘development’ action in a positive way. In sharing this story, we know that people removed from Africa’s reality will begin to see our continent in her true light – rich in community and creativity, deep desire to live in harmony and willingness to work for a future that includes all Africans.
Read more about our mission here
Where to watch our story unfold
See the OUR AFRICA page on this site to follow our posts on our map and OUR BLOG page for written updates. We will also regularly be posting on Facebook and Instagram.
Who we are
5 young South African spirits (and some wonderful friends joining for sections), passionate about the African continent and confident in the good it has to offer to the world
Michie Rorich (sister)
Adventurous, flowerchild and passionate about contributing to human well-being. Qualified as a "development economist" with a Masters from Oxford. She is embarking on this journey to deepen her understanding of the continent that has given her so much - trying to catch a glimpse of the infinite knowledge fellow Africans have to offer. “Having conversations with people we meet along the way about their visions for the continent, the challenges Africa faces and potential solutions they propose, I hope to better understand the role I can play as a development economist in the African context”. Read more about Michie's mission in her application for the Emergent Venture grant.
Robbie Rorich (brother)
Robbie is one of South Africa’s top trail runners, with podium finishes in the country’s top races.
He is a passionate sculptor, whose work features in numerous galleries across the country and in overseas private collections. He currently funds tutors4tomorrow (a non-profit organisation that tutors underprivileged high school students) with his art sales.
As an outdoor enthusiast, Robbie has cycled more than 10 000km’s of cycle tours in Southern Africa, as well as his first Cape Epic at the age of 19. Graduating in 2018 with a degree in Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, he has been top of the class for all practical projects, including autonomous robots.
Angus is interested in Trail Running, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Canoeing and Music Production/Composition. Angus is currently studying Music Technology and Composition with Ethno-Musicology. Backed by UCT, Angus is planning to collect samples of local traditional music along the route, which will be used for study, composition and documentation processes by the University of Cape Town.
Jess grew up surfing the beaches and hiking the mountains surrounding Durban, KZN. Being immersed in nature from an early age, she became enamoured by the beauty of nature and it became natural to her to align herself with an environmentally minded future. Through her studies in the fields of ecology and marine biology, she realised that an understanding of people in relationship to the environment is a necessity, which led her to pursuing a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture. This has allowed her to grapple with the relationship between humans and nature through design. Jess is excited to be navigating the route from Cairo to Cape Town by bicycle next year, allowing her to experience how these interactions manifest themselves throughout the African continent. Jess fell ill with typhoid in Uganda and is currently recovering at home.
A lover of adventure and time spent surfing, hiking and climbing is time well spent. Finishing her masters’ in civil engineering she is passionate about sustainable engineering solutions and innovation. On this African adventure she hopes to observe cases of innovation and creative problem solving happening at the rural level. But never taking herself too seriously she hopes to share joy, bring playfulness and even though she isn’t a great dancer, do it at every arising opportunity.
Lauren Granger is a born and bred Cape Town girl who has always made the most of what the mother city has to offer as a lifesaver, surfer and, more recently, a trail runner. Having obtained her PPE from Stellenbosch University Lauren spent some time back packing through South America before studying a post graduate LLB fat UCT. She was working as an attorney in Cape Town before throwing in the towel to further her studies at the University of “Travel By Bike” with the incredible people of team Pole Pole.
A bit more about our mission
Key to telling the story of what we, the youth of Africa, want our African future to look like will be to get a sense of the development required n Africa. To do this we will start by defining development very broadly as 'good change' (as Robert Chambers has done). We will spend time with young people exploring what 'good' is: what it means to be well for individuals, communities, nations and our continent. We will share this through video recordings of our conversations, photographs taken by the people we meet and interactive walks through communities where we ask the participants to show us the good they see or would like to see. You can follow this on the OUR AFRICA page, Facebook or Instagram. We will then discuss whether we need ‘change’ and - if so - what our role, as young people is in this change. We will take this opportunity to highlight stories of youth that have already made positive changes in their communities.
On the name Pole-Pole
The magic of our trip is that we have the time to go slowly-slowly through Africa - to be able to meet, get to know and share stories of young people which might otherwise be heard. We love the proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together". Development may be a slow process but if we work together where will get to the place we all want to be.
Team Pole-Pole's individual involvement in the project
Michie will lead the open conversations about 'good change'
and then each of the others will delve into the subjects we are most interested in as they relate to well-being:
Robbie with his love for running,
Angus for music,
Suz with her interest in rural innovation,
Jess in the relationship between people and the environment
and Shanga in health and medicine.
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