Transcript: An Epic Trek Across Africa | Jul 12, 2018

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a gray blazer over a white shirt.

A caption on screen reads "An epic trek across Africa. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says IT'S AN ASTONISHING GOAL TO WALK
AND KAYAK ACROSS THE SECOND
LARGEST CONTINENT IN THE WORLD.
AND TORONTO-BASED ADVENTURER
MARIO RIGBY ACCOMPLISHED IT,
CROSSING THROUGH EIGHT COUNTRIES
ON HIS 12,000-KILOMETRE TREK
FROM CAPE TOWN TO THE BUSTLING
STREETS OF CAIRO AND
SURPRISINGLY, THOSE FACTS ONLY
HINT AT WHAT AN EPIC JOURNEY IT
WAS AND WE'RE PLEASED TO WELCOME
MARIO RIGBY TO OUR STUDIO TO
TELL US ALL ABOUT IT.

Mario is in his early thirties, with a short beard. He's wearing a gray baseball cap, shirt and t-shirt.

Nam says HI!
WELCOME.

Mario says HI, HOW ARE YOU?

Nam says I CAN'T WAIT TO CHAT TO YOU
ABOUT WHY YOU DID THIS BUT
BEFORE WE GET TO THAT, I WANT TO
SHOW PEOPLE THE TRIP THAT YOU TOOK.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Crossing the African continent."

Next to a map of Africa on which Mario's route from Cape Town to Cairo appears highlighted, text reads "2 year journey, 8 countries visited, walked paddled and sailed 12000 kilometres, 740 days on foot, 60 days on the water."

Nam continues SO YOU STARTED IN CAPE TOWN,
SOUTH AFRICA ON NOVEMBER 24TH,
2015 AND ARRIVED IN CAIRO, EGYPT
ON FEBRUARY 24TH, 2018.
THAT'S 27 MONTHS
OF TRAVEL, OVERALL.
YOU VISITED EIGHT COUNTRIES,
LIKE I MENTIONED, IN TOTAL.
YOU WALKED, PADDLED,
AND SAILED 12,000 KILOMETERS
SOUTH TO NORTH.
YOU SPENT 740 DAYS WALKING,
WHICH WAS 95 percent OF YOUR TRIP.
AND 60 DAYS PADDLING.
I'M GETTING EXHAUSTED JUST
TALKING ABOUT THIS.

[MARIO LAUGHING]

NAM SAYS AND YOU HIKED
EIGHT TO 12 HOURS A DAY.
UM, FIRST QUESTION, WHY DID YOU
WANT TO DO THIS?

The caption changes to "Mario Rigby. Explorer."
Then, it changes again to "Planning, prepping, packing."

Mario says YOU KNOW, I MEAN, NAM, THIS IS
SOMETHING THAT I STARTED TO
GOOGLE.
I SAID, "OKAY, WHO HAS DONE ANY
HIKING AND EXPEDITIONS IN AFRICA?"
AND AS I GOOGLED, YOU KNOW,
EVERYTHING WAS IN EUROPE OR
NORTH AMERICA AND I THOUGHT TO
MYSELF, "WELL, WHY ISN'T THERE
ANYTHING IN AFRICA?
AFRICA CAN'T BE THAT BAD, YOU KNOW."
SO I WANTED TO INVESTIGATE MYSELF.
SO I STARTED TO DO THE RESEARCH
AND I LOOKED INTO IT AND THOUGHT
THIS IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST
FASCINATING CONTINENTS ON THE
PLANET.
IT OFFERS EVERYTHING.
JUNGLES, SAVANNAHS, DESERTS,
EVERYTHING.
EVEN COASTLINES.
EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO PEOPLE AND
CULTURE, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE THINK
ANYWHERE BETWEEN 2,500 TO 4,000
DIFFERENT TRIBES.
WHY WOULDN'T YOU WANT TO
EXPERIENCE THAT?
SO TO ME, THE ANSWER SIMPLY
WOULD BE, "WHY NOT?"

NAM SAYS WHY NOT?
OKAY, AND IT IS A CONTINENT OF
54 COUNTRIES, RIGHT?

MARIO RIGBY SAYS YEAH.

Nam says BECAUSE A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK
AFRICA IS A COUNTRY BUT IT'S A
CONTINENT.

Mario says JUST ONE, YEAH.

Nam says SO WHY THIS SPECIFIC ROUTE?

Mario says I TOOK THIS ROUTE ORIGINALLY
BECAUSE GOOGLE MAPS TOLD ME TO GO THAT WAY.

[NAM LAUGHING]

Mario says NO... NO, NO.
THERE WAS... ACTUALLY THERE IS, IF
YOU ACTUALLY GOOGLE CAPE TOWN TO
CAIRO ON GOOGLE, APPARENTLY IT
CHANGES EVERY YEAR.
THE ROUTE CHANGES EVERY YEAR AND
THAT'S BECAUSE OF THE... THE
COUNTRIES CHANGING LAWS AND
ROADS BEING ADDED AND BEING
TAKEN AWAY.
LIKE...

NAM SAYS YOU MEAN LIKE POLITICAL
SITUATIONS?

Mario says POLITICAL SITUATIONS AS WELL.
SO I TOOK THIS ROUTE BECAUSE A)
I WANTED TO HUG THE COASTLINE
AND 2) I WANTED TO EXPERIENCE A
PART OF AFRICA, PARTICULARLY
EAST AFRICA WHERE WE'VE KNOWN
HUMANITY TO HAVE STARTED
BASICALLY ADVENTURING AND
WALKING OUTSIDE OF AFRICA
THROUGHOUT EUROPE AND ASIA,
WHICH MADE UP THE REST OF THE
HUMAN POPULATION.

Nam says AND YOU'VE SAID THAT YOU WANT TO
CHANGE THE IMAGE WE HAVE OF EXPLORERS.
WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Mario says SO I WANTED TO CHANGE THE... WHAT
PEOPLE SEE AS AN EXPLORER.
I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO THINK
THAT AN EXPLORER IS SOMEONE WHO
GOES TO A PLACE AND EXPLOITS
THEM FOR WHATEVER SELFISH
REASONS BUT I THINK NOW, TO BE
AN EXPLORER... BECAUSE I THINK
WE'VE COVERED A LOT OF LAND.
A LOT OF PLACES IN THE WORLD.
I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF PLACES
THAT HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY
EXPLORERS AND ADVENTURERS.
BUT WHAT I DO NOW IS, "HOW DO I
GET TO THOSE PLACES BUT SHOW IT
IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT?"
SHOW IT AS REALISTICALLY AS I
POSSIBLY CAN.
SO I THINK MY JOB IS TO
BASICALLY PRESENT THE REALITIES
OF THESE PLACES.
THE EVERYDAY LIVES AND I THINK
THAT'S ONE THING THAT I THINK
PEOPLE HAVEN'T REALLY DONE TO A
FULL EXTENT FOR AFRICA.
AND I JUST KIND OF WANTED TO DO
THAT.

Nam says WELL, WE'RE GOING TO TALK MORE
ABOUT WHAT YOU SAW AND SOME OF
THE THINGS THAT YOU EXPERIENCED
ON THIS TRIP.

Mario says UH HMM.

Nam says BUT LET'S GET TO THE LOGISTICS
AGAIN.
YOU TRAVELLED WITH... WE'RE GOING
TO SHOW A PICTURE RIGHT NOW.
YEAH.
YOU TRAVELLED WITH ONE BACKPACK?

A picture shows a medium sized backpack and its basic contents, including a sleeping bag and a water bottle.

MARIO SAYS ONE BACKPACK, YEAH.

NAM SAYS ONE BACKPACK AND WHAT WAS
IN THE BAG THAT YOU TOOK FOR... TO
YOUR TREK ACROSS THE SECOND
LARGEST CONTINENT?

Mario says IT CHANGES FROM TIME TO TIME.
SO IF I'M ON LAKE MALAWI, YOU
PROBABLY FIND A LOT OF BANANAS IN MY BAG.
BUT AT THE BEGINNING, YOU KNOW,
I'M KIND OF A BEGINNER WHEN IT
COMES TO BACKPACKING.
I HAD NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE.
SO WHAT I HAD WITH ME WAS KIND
OF... IT'S... IT'S PRETTY FUNNY
BECAUSE I HAD A MACHETE WITH ME.

NAM SAYS A MACHETE IS A LONG KNIFE.

Mario says LIKE A LONG... LIKE A REALLY LONG
KNIFE THAT YOU USE FOR BUSHWHACKING.
AND I HAD... WHAT ELSE DID I HAVE
THAT WAS REALLY UNNECESSARY?

NAM SAYS SHOES?

Mario says WELL, SHOES WERE NECESSARY.
BUT I JUST HAD A LOT OF THINGS
THAT WEREN'T REALLY NECESSARY.
LIKE TOO MANY CLOTHES.
SO MY BACKPACK WEIGHED TOO MUCH.
AND I JUST HAD... AND THEN
EVENTUALLY... I JUST BROUGHT IT
DOWN TO THE ESSENTIALS WHICH IS
FOOD, WATER, A FEW SHIRTS, A
COUPLE OF PANTS.
AND SOME SURVIVAL STUFF LIKE
ROPE, DUCT TAPE AND YEAH.

Nam says AND SOME WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH
EVERYBODY ELSE, RIGHT?

Mario says AND YEAH, WELL USING MY CELLULAR PHONE.
AND YOU KNOW, I REALLY HAVE TO...

NAM SAYS WHICH WAS SOLAR-POWERED, RIGHT?

Mario says WHICH WAS SOLAR-POWERED SO I HAD
A SOLAR PANEL WITH ME, WHICH IS FOLDABLE.
YOU CAN FOLD IT OUT, PUT IT ON
MY BACKPACK, WHILE I'M WALKING
IT WOULD CHARGE MY PHONE OR
CHARGE MY CHARGER, MY POWER BANK
WHILE I'M GOING ALONG MY WALK.
AND AS YOU CAN PROBABLY TELL,
IT'S PRETTY HOT ALL THE TIME.
THERE'S SUNSHINE SO I NEVER HAD
A PROBLEM WITH CHARGING MY
DEVICES.

Nam says YOU'RE A PERSONAL TRAINER AND A
FORMER TRACK STAR BUT THIS TRIP
WAS PHYSICALLY GRUELING, EVEN FOR YOU.
HOW CHALLENGING WAS IT?

The caption changes to "Mario Rigby,m @MarioRiby."
Then, it changes again to "Pushed to the limit."

Mario says IT... I DID... PRIOR TO CROSSING
AFRICA... I DID A LOT OF TRAINING FOR THAT.
I DID TORONTO TO... SORRY TORONTO
TO HAMILTON AND THEN AFTER A
MONTH, I DID TORONTO TO MONTREAL
AND I HAD A WALKING COACH WHO
WOULD BASICALLY TAKE ME 50 TO 70
KILOMETERS PER DAY.
HER NAME IS DONNA FOSTER AND SHE
OVERWORKED ME IN A SENSE THAT
WHEN I FINALLY ARRIVED IN
AFRICA, I WOULD ONLY AVERAGE
ABOUT 25 TO 50 KILOMETERS PER
DAY AND SO IT WAS REALLY EASY.
WHAT MADE IT DIFFICULT WAS THE
HEAT, THE BASICALLY, THE TERRAIN
JUST GOING UP AND DOWN.
THOSE WERE THE CHALLENGES THAT I
REALLY HAD.

Nam says WELL, I WAS GOING TO SAY THAT
BECAUSE PLACES IN AFRICA ARE
VERY DIFFERENT FROM ONTARIO, RIGHT?

Mario says YEAH.
THERE ARE SOME PLACES THAT ARE
VERY DIFFERENT BUT THEN THERE
ARE ALSO A LOT OF PLACES THAT
ARE VERY SIMILAR.
LIKE FOR INSTANCE, FARMLAND.
IF YOU WERE TO BE PLACED IN THE
MIDDLE OF A FARMLAND IN ONTARIO
LIKE WALKING FROM TORONTO TO
MONTREAL AND THEN THERE'S A
FARMLAND IN SOUTH AFRICA, OR
EVEN IN KENYA, YOU WOULD NOT
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

Nam says I GUESS IN THE PARTS WHERE
THERE'S LIKE ANIMALS AND STUFF
BUT ANYWAY.
I'M GETTING AHEAD OF MYSELF.
BUT YOU'VE DESCRIBED THE BOREDOM
OF WALKING FOR HOURS ON END AS
PAINFUL.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Mario says YEAH, SO, YOU KNOW, IT GETS TO A
POINT WHERE BOREDOM IS
ACTUALLY... BASICALLY TURNS INTO A
PAIN RECEPTOR.

NAM SAYS SO IT WAS BORING WALKING?

Mario says IT'S NOT JUST THAT IT'S BORING.
I THINK IT'S NOT LIKE YOU'RE
PICKING UP A PHONE BECAUSE
YOU'RE LIKE, "OH, I'M BORED SO
I'M GOING TO PICK UP A PHONE."
IT'S MORE THAT YOU'VE
OVERWHELMED ALL YOUR SENSES
SO YOU TRY TO DISTRACT YOUR
MIND AT THE BEGINNING.
THEN YOU START TO THINK ABOUT
YOUR PAST AND THEN YOU'RE LIKE,
"OKAY.
I THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING THAT I
COULD HAVE OF THE PAST."
AND THEN YOU START TO THINK OF
THE FUTURE, THEN YOU START TO
THINK OF PRESENT MOMENT.
SO IT IS KIND OF A MEDITATIVE STATE.

A selfie taken by Mario appears, in which he stands in a desert with large sand dunes.
Another picture shows him standing on a rock cliff overlooking a river with lush islands in the middle.

Mario says BUT THEN ALL OF THESE PHASES
NUMB EVENTUALLY OVER TIME UNTIL
YOU GET TO THIS LAST PHASE WHICH
IS LIKE YOU KIND OF PHASE OUT,
IN A SENSE.
SO THERE WERE TIMES WHERE I
WOULD WALK AND THEN ALL OF A
SUDDEN, I WOULD JUST FEEL LIKE
I'M WAKING UP AND I'VE JUST DONE
FOUR HOURS OF WALKING.

Nam says DID YOU NOT LISTEN TO LIKE
PODCASTS OR MUSIC?

Mario says YEAH, THERE WAS A LOT OF TIMES I
LISTENED TO PODCASTS.
I LISTENED TO ALAN WATTS, MOST
OF THE TIME.
HE'S A KIND OF LIKE A SPIRITUAL
PHILOSOPHER.
AND... BUT I NEVER LISTENED TO
MUSIC UNLESS IT WAS LIKE NEAR
THE END OF MY EXPEDITION OR OF
MY TREK OF THE DAY.

NAM SAYS WHY WAS THAT?

Mario says USUALLY, DANCE OR REGGAE.

NAM SAYS BUT WHY DIDN'T YOU LISTEN
TO MUSIC?

Mario says OH, WHY DIDN'T I?

Nam says YOU KNOW, I'M SURE PEOPLE
WATCHING THIS ARE LIKE,
"I WOULD JUST LISTEN TO
MUSIC THE WHOLE TIME."
THAT'S WHAT YOU WOULD THINK, RIGHT?

Mario says BUT YOU'D BE SURPRISED AT HOW
PAINFUL THAT COULD BE OVER TIME.
AFTER ABOUT TWO, THREE, FOUR
HOURS, LISTENING TO MUSIC...

NAM SAYS AND WALKING.

Mario says AND WALKING AND SWEATING AND
THERE'S LIKE FLIES COMING AT
YOU, YOU KNOW, IT GETS
INCREDIBLY ANNOYING.
AND I'M GUESSING TOO THAT YOU
PROBABLY WANT TO KEEP YOUR
SENSES OF WHERE YOU'RE GOING.

MARIO SAYS THAT'S IT, YEAH.
SO YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR SENSES.
YOU DON'T WANT TO GET HIT BY CARS.
YOU DON'T WANT TO BE ATTACKED BY
ANIMALS.
YOU DON'T WANT TO BE APPROACHED
BY PEOPLE FROM BEHIND SO YOU
REALLY KIND OF LEARN HOW TO
BECOME AWARE.
YOU BECOME PART OF NATURE.

Nam says BEYOND WALKING TOO, SOME OF YOUR
TRIP WAS OVER WATER AND YOU HAD
NEVER KAYAKED BEFORE THIS...

MARIO SAYS NO.

NAM SAYS BUT YOU DECIDED TO DO THIS
ON THIS TRIP.
AND YOU KAYAKED OVER THE NINTH
LARGEST LAKE IN THE WORLD,
LAKE MALAWI.
IT WAS A 550-KILOMETRE PADDLE
AND IT TOOK YOU TWO MONTHS.

MARIO SAYS UH HMM.

NAM SAYS WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

A picture shows a blue kayak on a lakeshore.

Mario says YOU KNOW WHAT NAM, I MEAN, IF
YOU EVER... [LAUGHING]... IF YOU
EVER TOOK LIKE YOUR WORST
NIGHTMARE AND THEN YOU JUST LIKE
TIMES THAT BY 100, THAT'S KIND
OF WHAT THAT FELT LIKE.
I'VE NEVER KAYAKED BEFORE.
I WAS ALWAYS AFRAID OF GOING
INTO DEEP WATER.
ACTUALLY, DEEP WATER WAS ONE OF
MY BIGGEST FEARS.
BUT I FELT LIKE I'VE BEEN USED
TO OVERCOMING A LOT OF FEARS.
LIKE PRIOR TO MALAWI, I GOT INTO
A LOT OF TROUBLE.
SO I'VE LEARNED HOW TO OVERCOME
A LOT OF FEAR AND TO ME, TO
KAYAK THE LAKE WAS JUST TO GIVE
A BREAK FOR MY LEGS, IN A SENSE.
BUT THE FEELING WAS REALLY... I
WOULD SAY, ULTIMATE FREEDOM.
IF YOU CAN JUST TAKE A KAYAK AND
JUST GO OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
LAKE, ONE OF THE LARGEST LAKES
IN THE WORLD WHICH SEEMS LIKE AN
OCEAN AND IT'S KIND OF LOST IN
THIS LIKE ABYSS OF MIST AND
WATER, WHERE YOU CAN'T TELL THE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHERE THE AIR
AND THE WATER MEETS.
THAT IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST
AMAZING FEELINGS.

Nam says I MEAN, IT SOUND BEAUTIFUL BUT
IT ALSO SOUNDS TERRIFYING
BECAUSE YOU WERE SHIPWRECKED AT
ONE POINT.

Mario says YEAH.

Nam says HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Mario says SO I WAS SHIPWRECKED BECAUSE
THERE WAS APPARENTLY A
MICRO-TEAR WHERE I WAS SEATED
AND I DIDN'T SEE IT UNTIL TOO
LATE BECAUSE EVERY TIME YOU
PADDLE, MY BODY WOULD PRESS INTO
THE SEAT AND IT OPENED UP THE
MICRO-TEAR.

NAM SAYS IT WAS SUCKING UP THE
WATER.

Mario says EXACTLY.
AND I WOULD NEVER FIGURE OUT
WHAT HAPPENED.
IT TOOK ME A WHILE.
AND THEN EVENTUALLY I FIGURED IT
OUT BUT MY KAYAK WOULD SINK IN
THE MIDDLE, LIKE WE'RE TALKING
TWO KILOMETERS OUT INTO WATER.
AND YOU'RE KIND OF PANICKING
'CAUSE YOU'RE THINKING, "THIS
COULD BE YOUR LAST... YOUR LAST
STROKE" AND YOU KNOW THAT YOU
HAVE TO CARRY THE KAYAK NOW
BECAUSE YOU CAN'T KAYAK ON IT SO
YOU HAVE TO JUMP OUT, SWIM, USE
ONE HAND TO PADDLE.
AND THEN USE THE OTHER HAND TO
HOLD ON TO THE KAYAK.

Nam says BUT ALSO, MALAWI IS A LAKE THAT
HAS A LOT OF OTHER LARGE
CARNIVOROUS... LIKE THEY'RE
CARNIVORES.
LIKE IN THE WATER.
WASN'T THAT TERRIFYING?
NOT REALLY IN THE WATER.
MORE LIKE...

NAM SAYS ON THE SIDES, RIGHT?

Mario says YEAH, ON THE SHORE.
SO YOU HAVE CROCODILES AND...

NAM SAYS HIPPOS.
HIPPOS.

The caption changes to "Turbulent waters."

Mario says AND HIPPOS ARE, YOU KNOW,
THEY'RE CUTE LITTLE CREATURES
THAT DON'T EAT PEOPLE BUT THEY
WILL DEFINITELY ATTACK YOU AND
THEY HAVE LIKE ONE OF THE
LARGEST TEETH THAT CAN
DEFINITELY PIERCE THROUGH YOUR
BODY WITH EASE.
AND THERE WAS A TIME WHERE
ACTUALLY, I ENDED UP CAMPING
NEXT TO A FAMILY OF HIPPOS.
IT WAS THREE OF THEM AND I WAS
FAR AWAY ENOUGH TO NOT BOTHER
THEM BUT ALSO, YOU KNOW, I THINK
THEY WERE USED TO HAVING HUMANS
AROUND BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE A
LOT OF FARMERS WOULD GO SO
THAT'S WHY I CHOSE THAT SECTION.

Nam says ANOTHER TERRIFYING PART OF YOUR
TRIP HAPPENED WHEN YOU WERE
PASSING THROUGH MOZAMBIQUE AND
YOU WERE SHOT AT BY AK-47S.
AND YOU ACTUALLY GOT THIS ON
CAMERA.

Mario says UH HMM.

Nam says AND WE WANT TO SHOW THE AUDIENCE
WHAT IT WAS.
SHELDON, CAN YOU PLEASE ROLL.

Shaky footage shows Mario's legs as he crams into a small space made of dark metal, resembling the back of a car.

[GUNSHOTS]

MARIO SAYS SHIT!
SHIT!

[GUNSHOTS]

Another clip shows a soldier running towards Mario. Then, he films from a hiding place in tall grass, near a road, where a soldier lies on the ground holding a gun.

[Music plays on RADIO]

The clip ends.

The caption changes to "Bullets and shackles."

Nam says I MEAN, THAT IS TERRIFYING.
IT WAS REALLY TERRIFYING.
WHAT WAS GOING ON THERE?

Mario says SO, BASICALLY, I WAS PICKED UP
BY THE MILITARY.
BY THE GOVERNMENT OF MOZAMBIQUE.
YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO WALK
THROUGH THIS PARTICULAR ZONE,
WHICH IS THE CONFLICT ZONE.
IT WAS ACROSS THE SAVE RIVER.
AND THERE'S THIS BRIDGE AND
BASICALLY, YOU HAVE THE NORTHERN REBELS.
SORRY, THE REBELS IN THE NORTH.
PART OF THE RENAMO FORCES WHO
WERE TRYING TO BASICALLY ATTACK
ANYONE OR ALL THE MILITARY THAT
ARE IN THE SAVE BORDER REGION
BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO CUT THE
BRIDGE THAT WOULD END EXPORT
BETWEEN THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH.
ANYWAYS, I WAS MIXED IN WITH THE
ACTION OF THEM FIGHTING EACH
OTHER AND I LOOKED LIKE I WAS
PART OF THE WHOLE MILITARY,
YOU KNOW, TEAM BECAUSE MY... MY
CLOTHING WAS ALL UNIFORM.
IT LOOKED LIKE CAMOUFLAGE AND SO
THEY SHOT AT US.
THERE WERE EIGHT SOLDIERS.
SIX IN THE BACK, TWO IN THE
FRONT.
AND THE CAR JUST STOPPED AFTER
ABOUT HALF AN HOUR OF JUST
DRIVING THROUGH THIS AREA.
AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, WE HEAR
THREE GUN SHOTS AND THEY WERE
ATTACKING US AND SO THE TRUCK
STOPPED, EVERYONE GETS OUT,
THEY'RE SHOOTING.
AND I'M JUST KIND OF FREAKING
OUT, AS YOU CAN TELL.

NAM SAYS DID YOU THINK YOU WERE
GOING TO DIE?

Mario says I THOUGHT THAT IF THE SOLDIERS
DIDN'T ATTACK THEM, OR IF THEY
DIDN'T, YOU KNOW, TAKE CARE OF
THE SITUATION, THEN THEY WOULD
DEFINITELY COME AFTER ME AND
THEY WOULD DEFINITELY PROBABLY
EXECUTE ME.
I DON'T SEE WHY THEY WOULDN'T.

Nam says BUT WATCHING THAT, DO YOU
THINK... DOES THAT GIVE YOU... LIKE
IN HINDSIGHT, YOU WATCH THAT.
DO YOU THINK THAT MAYBE YOU
SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE THE TRIP?

Mario says UM, THERE WAS A MISCALCULATION
ON MY PART.

[LAUGHING]

Mario says IT WAS A VERY... IT WAS AN
UNNECESSARY RISK.
BUT THE THING IS ALSO, YOU KNOW,
THE INFORMATION THAT I GOT AT
THE TIME WAS KIND OF MIXED SO A
LOT OF PEOPLE WOULD SAY,
"NO THE SITUATION
ISN'T REALLY BAD."
AND THEN OTHERS WOULD SAY, "THE
SITUATION IS REALLY BAD."
SO YOU KNOW, THEN I TALKED TO
THE LOCALS BUT BY THE TIME I GOT
THE REAL INFORMATION, IT WAS
ALREADY TOO LATE.
I WAS TOO CLOSE TO THE BORDER.
I COULDN'T REALLY... I COULD HAVE
GONE BACK BUT IT WOULD HAVE COST
ME TOO MUCH TIME AND MONEY.
SO I JUST DECIDED TO GO FORWARD
WITH THAT.

Nam says YOU WERE ALSO ARRESTED A COUPLE
OF TIMES AND THIS WAS IN MALAWI.
YOU WERE THROWN INTO JAIL.
WHAT HAPPENED THERE?

Mario says SO MALAWI WAS QUITE INTERESTING.
A LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE ON
THE COAST DON'T REALLY GET TO
SEE FOREIGNERS THAT MUCH AND YOU
KNOW, ME BEING A FOREIGNER BUT
YOU KNOW, AT THE SAME TIME BEING
BLACK, I FIT THE PROFILE OF
POSSIBLE REBELS THAT THEY MIGHT
HAVE FOUGHT AGAINST IN THE PAST
SO THIS POLICE OFFICER BASICALLY
DIDN'T BELIEVE THAT I WAS A
FOREIGNER, EVEN THOUGH I
PRESENTED MY PASSPORT TO HIM AND
HE LOOKED AT IT AND HE SAYS,
"I DON'T BELIEVE YOU."
HE SAYS, "YOU ARE AFRICAN AND I
TAKE YOU TO JAIL."
SO. YEAH, HE TOOK ME.
I WAS THERE FOR A FEW DAYS.
COUPLE OF NIGHTS UNTIL I HAD A
FRIEND WHO WAS ACTUALLY WALKING
LAKE MALAWI.
I WAS KAYAKING SO I WAS ALWAYS A
FEW DAYS AHEAD.

NAM SAYS UH HMM.

Mario says 'CAUSE KAYAKING IS A STRAIGHT
LINE AND THEN WALKING YOU'RE
GOING WITH THE ROADS, YOU GO
AROUND THE MOUNTAINS AND HILLS.
SO HE WAS A BIT BEHIND AND WHEN
HE FINALLY ARRIVED TO THE
VILLAGE, HE'S AN ITALIAN GUY AND
HE BASICALLY, YOU KNOW,
HE FOUND ME AND HE SAID, "HEY,
YOU'VE GOT MY FRIEND.
YOU NEED TO RELEASE HIM."
AND SO WITH HIS WORD, THEY
RELEASED ME BUT AFTER THAT,
WE WENT TO THE POLICE, THE
HEADQUARTERS AND THEY GAVE ME A
FORMAL APOLOGY WITH LETTERS AND
STUFF LIKE THAT.

Nam says I MEAN, I THINK THAT WAS KIND OF
A LOT OF LUCK.

MARIO SAYS IT WAS A LOT OF LUCK,
YEAH.

Nam says BECAUSE YOU HADN'T SHOWN UP.
AND THE CONDITIONS IN THE JAIL
WERE PRETTY BAD.

Mario says HORRIBLE, YEAH.

Nam says HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE
HOSPITALITY YOU CAME ACROSS ON THE CONTINENT?

The caption changes to "With open arms."

Mario says AFRICANS ARE SOME OF THE MOST
HOSPITABLE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET.
I THINK I WAS COMPLETELY
OVERWHELMED WITH THE HOSPITALITY.

In a picture, Mario smiles and raises a clenched fist, surrounded by dozens of children who do the same.

Mario says THERE WERE EVEN TIMES WHEN I WAS
JUST... I THINK I GOT ANGRY JUST
BECAUSE THERE'S TOO MUCH
HOSPITALITY OF LIKE,
"EAT THIS, EAT THAT."
IN ETHIOPIA, THEY WOULD FEED YOU
WITH THEIR HANDS.

NAM SAYS AND AT ONE POINT, YOU WERE
SLEEPING ON A BEACH AND SOMEBODY
WAS LIKE, I'M GOING TO SLEEP
BESIDE YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE IN MY
COUNTRY..."

Mario says ABSOLUTELY.
I WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU'RE SAFE."
THIS WAS IN MALAWI.
THIS WAS A FEW DAYS AFTER I GOT
ARRESTED.
I JUST GOT TO THIS VILLAGE.
AND YOU KNOW, THE THING ABOUT
AFRICA IS THEY MAKE THEMSELVES
THE SELF-APPOINTED GUARDIANS FOR YOU.
THEY DON'T WAIT ON AUTHORITY OR
ANYBODY ELSE TO TAKE CARE OF THE SITUATION.

In another picture, Mario poses on a roadside with a group of women in colourful robes and headpieces.

Mario says I THINK THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN THE WEST.
I THINK WE RELY ON PROFESSIONALS
OR ON PEOPLE WITH AUTHORITY TO
TAKE CARE OF THE SITUATION.
AND... BUT IN AFRICA, IT'S QUITE
DIFFERENT.
THEY FEEL LIKE, "YOU KNOW WHAT,
YOU ARE HERE WITH ME AND I'M
GOING TO HELP YOU.
YOU KNOW, YOU'RE IN MY HOME."

Nam says HOSPITALITY OF A CONTINENT.

Mario says ABSOLUTELY.

Nam says AND SO A LOT OF PEOPLE WELCOMED
YOU INTO YOUR... INTO THEIR HOMES.
BUT YOU HAD AN INTERESTING
MOMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA ON THE
WESTERN CAPE.
TELL US ABOUT THE WHITE SOUTH
AFRICAN WHO LET YOU STAY WITH HIM.

Mario says SO THIS WAS IN... I FORGOT THE
NAME OF THE PLACE, ACTUALLY.
BUT IT WAS... THIS WAS WESTERN
CAPE AND I WAS SUPPOSED TO STAY
WITH THIS FAMILY.
I HAD CALLED THEM AHEAD OF TIME
AND YOU KNOW, I SAID,
"HEY, I'M GOING TO SLEEP OVER."
THEY DIDN'T KNOW I WAS BLACK AT
THE TIME.
MY NAME IS MARIO RIGBY SO THEY
PROBABLY THOUGHT YOU KNOW, MAYBE
AN ITALIAN GUY OR BRITISH FELLA.
PLUS, WITH MY ACCENT.
SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN THEY SAW ME,
THEY WERE QUITE SURPRISED AND
YOU KNOW, THEY MADE AN EFFORT TO
TRY TO ACCOMMODATE ME.
AND...

NAM SAYS BUT IT WAS MORE THAN AN
EFFORT BECAUSE THIS GENTLEMAN
SAID THAT DURING APARTHEID...

Mario says YEAH...

Nam says HE WAS PART OF A GROUP OF
PEOPLE WHO WOULD ACTUALLY SHOOT
WHAT HE CALLS "THE BLACKS."

Mario says YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.
SO THIS GUY, HE WAS PART OF THE
APARTHEID, THE MILITARY THAT WAS
AGAINST THE FREEDOM FOR BLACK
PEOPLE.
AND YOU KNOW, HE SPOKE ABOUT IT
FREELY AND HE SAID,
"HEY, LISTEN, I USED TO SHOOT
THE BLACKS THAT WANTED TO BECOME FREE.
AND I FEEL REALLY GUILTY NOW BUT
IT'S SUCH AN AMAZING THING THAT
YOU KNOW, NOW, I CAN SIT
TOGETHER WITH ANOTHER BLACK MAN
AND TALK ABOUT THIS OPENLY."

NAM SAYS HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

Mario says YOU KNOW, I FELT A SENSE OF... OF
COURSE THERE'S GOING TO BE A
LITTLE BIT OF ANGER AND YOU
KNOW, RESENTMENT AND ALL THESE
FEELINGS BUT I TRIED TO OVERLOOK
THOSE FEELINGS AND I TRIED TO
FOCUS A LOT ON WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW.
AND THIS MAN IS TRYING TO DO
RIGHT AND I THINK, YOU KNOW,
FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN, BECAUSE NOW
THEY'RE DOING CHARITY WORK FOR A
LOT OF UNDERPRIVILEGED BLACK
YOUTH IN AFRICA.
THEY STILL KEEP IN CONTACT WITH
ME, ACTUALLY.
SO THEY STILL e-mail ME ONCE IN A
WHILE.
THEY SAY, "HEY, HOW IS
EVERYTHING?
AND THIS WHAT WE'RE DOING."
SO THEY'RE REALLY MAKING AN
EFFORT.
AND I THINK THEY'VE JUST
REALIZED THAT THEY MADE A GRAVE
MISTAKE AND THEY WERE JUST A
PART OF IT.

NAM SAYS AND PEOPLE CAN CHANGE, I
THINK.

MARIO SAYS AND PEOPLE CAN CHANGE,
ABSOLUTELY.

Nam says I COME FROM UGANDA AND I CAME
HERE AS A CHILD, AS A REFUGEE,
AND YOU MADE A DETOUR IN UGANDA.
IT WASN'T A PART OF YOUR ROUTE
BUT YOU WENT THERE.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF UGANDA?

The caption changes to "A personal connection."

Mario says OH MY GOODNESS, UGANDA.

[LAUGHING]

Mario says SO I WAS IN EGYPT JUST PRIOR TO
THAT AND EGYPT IS... I DON'T KNOW
IF YOU'VE EVER BEEN BUT... IT'S
VERY HUSTLE BUSTLE.
EVERYONE IS JUST LIKE, "HEY, MY
FRIEND."
YOU KNOW, IT CAN BE EITHER
HOSPITABLE OR HOSTILE.

In a picture, a smiling Mario poses with a dozen young men and women in colourful attire and headbands.

Mario says YOU DON'T REALLY KNOW WHAT'S
GOING TO HAPPEN IN EGYPT BUT AS
SOON AS I FLEW INTO UGANDA, AT
THE AIRPORT, THE ATMOSPHERE IS
VERY DIFFERENT.
EVERYTHING WAS GREEN, LUSH.
THE SOILS WERE BRIGHT RED AND
THE PEOPLE JUST COME AND LIKE,
"HELLO, MY FRIEND.
WOULD YOU LIKE A TAXI?"
YOU KNOW, IT'S JUST VERY CALM
AND VERY SOOTHING AND I JUST
LOVED THE WAY THAT THE PEOPLE
WERE ALWAYS SMILING AND SO
FRIENDLY.

Nam says I MEAN, I'M A LITTLE BIASED BUT
IT'S A GREAT PLACE.

[LAUGHTER]

Mario says IT IS, ABSOLUTELY A GREAT PLACE.
YOU KNOW, I WISH I SPENT LONGER
THAN A WEEK IN UGANDA BUT YOU
KNOW, EVEN BEING... I WAS AT THE
REFUGEE CAMP... AND EVEN BEING
THERE, THE PEOPLE WERE
INCREDIBLY HOSPITABLE.
THEY WERE SO FINE.

Nam says AND THOSE ARE SUDANESE REFUGEES,
I THINK WE HAD A PICTURE OF THAT.

MARIO SAYS YEAH, YEAH.

Nam says SO WHEN YOU FINALLY CROSSED THAT
FINISH LINE AND YOU SAW THE
PEAKS OF THOSE EGYPTIAN
PYRAMIDS, AFTER SOMETHING LIKE
800 DAYS OF TRAVEL...

MARIO SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS HOW DID THAT FEEL?

In a picture, Mario stands on a ledge of a pyramid, as a gigantic pyramid rises in the distant background.

MARIO SAYS IT FELT WEIRD.
I DIDN'T... IT FELT LIKE YOU KNOW
WHEN YOU GO FOR A MARATHON RUN
AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU
STOP, IT'S A WEIRD FEELING.

The caption changes to "Reaching the finish line."

NAM SAYS I'VE NEVER TAKEN A MARATHON
RUN SO I DON'T KNOW.

[LAUGHTER]

In another picture, Mario points at a bas-relief hieroglyph on a sandstone wall.

MARIO SAYS WELL, FOR THE VIEWERS WHO
HAVE BEEN ON A MARATHON RUN, OR
ANYTHING THAT YOU DO FOR A LONG
TIME, EVEN IF YOU'RE STUDYING,
EVEN IF YOU'RE LIKE IN STUDY
MODE AND YOU'RE READING A BOOK
OR SOMETHING AND ALL OF A
SUDDEN, THE BOOK ENDS.
YOUR BRAIN WANTS TO CONTINUE
DOING THAT.
OR YOUR BODY WANTS TO CONTINUE
RUNNING BECAUSE IT'S LIKE A
SHOCK FOR IT TO STOP.
THAT'S KIND OF HOW IT FELT.
BUT FOR ME, IT WAS MORE
EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, AND
PHYSICAL ALL AT THE SAME TIME
AND IT WAS JUST LIKE KIND OF
LIKE A COMPLETE SHUTDOWN AND I
DIDN'T... I FELT MORE THAT I WAS
GOING TO CELEBRATE AND BE LIKE,
"YEAH, I JUST FINISHED,." BUT I
FELT MORE LIKE, "I CAN'T BELIEVE
I'M DONE."
IT WAS KIND OF SAD.

Nam says YOU FELT SAD.

Mario says YEAH.

Nam says I KNOW I'M CURIOUS BUT HOW DID
YOU AFFORD THIS?
HOW DID YOU PAY FOR THIS?

MARIO laughs and says SO I DID A
BUNCH OF DIFFERENT THINGS.
AT THE BEGINNING, I USED MY OWN
MONEY, THEN MY MOTHER HELPED ME
OUT, THEN I STARTED TO DO A GOFUNDME.
AND AFTER THE GOFUNDME, I
STARTED TO SELL T-SHIRTS ONLINE
SO I DID THAT.

In two pictures, Mario stands in a misty green field surrounded by families of small apes.

Mario says ACTUALLY, THAT WENT REALLY WELL.
THE CROSSING AFRICA T-SHIRTS AND
THEN AFTER THAT, THEN I GOT A
SPONSOR.
SO IT WAS JUST KIND OF LIKE A
GRADUAL PROGRESSION TO BECOMING
MORE LIKE FINANCIALLY
INDEPENDENT AND THEN EVENTUALLY
GETTING PAID FOR IT.

NAM SAYS TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

Mario says TO DO WHAT I LOVE, YEAH.

Nam says SO WE OFTEN TALK ABOUT AFRICA AS
IF IT'S ONE BIG REGION.
I MENTIONED IT'S 54 COUNTRIES.
BUT WE THINK THAT IT'S THE SAME
PEOPLE, THE SAME ISSUES.
BUT GIVEN YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW
DO YOU GET PEOPLE TO REALIZE
AFRICA'S REGIONAL DIFFERENCES?

The caption changes to "Across the continent."

Mario says SO, YOU KNOW, I'VE BEEN SPEAKING
TO A LOT OF YOUTH LEADERS OR
AFRICAN YOUTH LEADERS HERE IN TORONTO.
AROUND THE WORLD, ACTUALLY.
AND THEY'RE REALLY TRYING TO
BRING OUT THE VOICE OF AFRICANS
AND I THINK RIGHTFULLY SO.

A picture shows several small three-wheeled vehicles parked on a dirt street as a minaret rises in the background.

Mario says AND THE WAY THAT WE'RE LOOKING
AT IT NOW IS, YOU KNOW, INSTEAD
OF LIKE... 'CAUSE THERE'S 54
COUNTRIES IN AFRICA AND I THINK
WE'RE QUITE UNFAMILIAR WITH A
LOT OF THEM.
SO EVEN ANOTHER WAY TO
CATEGORIZE AFRICA BY SAYING EAST
AFRICA, SOUTH AFRICA, NORTH AND
WEST AFRICA OR EVEN CENTRAL
AFRICA.
SO A LOT OF YOUTH ARE
IDENTIFYING THEMSELVES AS LIKE
EAST AFRICANS.
PARTICULARLY REFUGEES WHO ARE
BORN REFUGEES IN SAY,
FOR INSTANCE, UGANDA OR SOUTH
SUDAN BUT THEN THEIR PARENTS
ARE FROM KENYA AND
THINGS LIKE THAT.
SO YOU KNOW, THEY WOULD CONSIDER
THEMSELVES EAST AFRICAN IN A
SENSE AND THEY'RE TRYING TO
CREATE A COALITION AND I THINK
THAT'S REALLY FASCINATING.
I THINK THAT'S INTERESTING.
LIKE WEST AFRICA HAS THAT STRONG
REGIONAL STRENGTH AND I THINK
EAST AFRICA IS GOING THERE AS
WELL NOW AND THEN YOU HAVE NORTH
AFRICA WITH LIKE, YOU KNOW,
NORTHERN SUDAN AND EGYPT AND
PLACES LIKE THAT.

Nam says AND GOING BACK TO A COUPLE
QUESTIONS AGO WHEN I ASKED YOU
HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOU ENDED AND
YOU FELT THIS SADNESS SO I'M
GUESSING YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING
TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE?

Mario says ABSOLUTELY.

NAM SAYS WHERE YOU GOING TO NEXT?

Mario says YOU MEAN WHAT MY NEXT EXPEDITION WOULD BE?

NAM SAYS YEAH, YOUR NEXT EXPEDITION
WOULD BE.

The caption changes to "Plotting another course."

Mario says YEAH SO THERE'S A FEW THINGS
LINED UP.
I THINK I'M BASICALLY LINED UP
UNTIL THE YEAR 2022.

NAM SAYS SO WHERE YOU GOING?
WHAT CONTINENT?

Mario says SO, THE BIG EXPEDITION THAT I'M
GOING TO DO, THE NEXT ONE IS THE
END OF THE YEAR AND THAT'S
CALLED PROJECT EVA, WHICH IS AN
ELECTRIC VEHICLE ACROSS AFRICA.
IT'S MORE LIKE AROUND AFRICA.
SO I'LL BE STARTING IN NORTHERN
EUROPE IN NORWAY AND JUST KIND
OF MAKE MY WAY DOWN THE
CONTINENT.
AND THEN CROSS OVER TO MOROCCO,
THEN WE USE THAT ELECTRIC
VEHICLE TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE AFRICA
ALL THE WAY AROUND.
SO THIS IS GOING TO BE A REALLY
LONG EXPEDITION.
WE'RE TALKING OVER 30,000
KILOMETERS.

NAM SAYS AND WHAT IS THE GOAL FOR THAT?
LIKE WHY DO THAT?

Mario says THE GOAL FOR THIS IS TO PROMOTE
RENEWABLE, SUSTAINABLE ENERGY IN AFRICA.
PARTICULARLY BECAUSE AFRICA HAS
ALWAYS BEEN A POWER OF ENERGY,
WHETHER IT'S THROUGH OIL, GAS,
OR EVEN HUMAN SLAVERY THAT
HAPPENED NOT TOO LONG AGO.
EVEN CURRENTLY.

A picture shows a child walking along a dirt road lined with rotting wood, as a trucked passes by.

Mario says AND WE WANT TO TRANSITION THIS
KIND OF ENERGY INTO RENEWABLE
ENERGY, WHICH IS, I THINK, A
SAFER AND LONG TERM CHEAPER
VIABLE SOLUTION TO AFRICA'S
POWER PROBLEM.
THE POPULATION OF AFRICA IS
GROWING EXPONENTIALLY.
THEY PREDICTED THAT BY THE YEAR
2100, IT WILL BE ABOUT 4 BILLION
PEOPLE.
SO HOW ARE THESE EXTRA 4 BILLION
PEOPLE GOING TO GET ENERGY?
EVEN THOUGH NOW, MOST AFRICANS
IN RURAL AREAS CAN'T GET ACCESS
TO THIS SO, YOU KNOW, THERE'S
GOING TO BE A BIG PROBLEM IF YOU
DON'T FIND SOLUTIONS FOR THIS.
SO BASICALLY, WHAT WE'RE GOING
TO DO IS, YOU KNOW, SHOW A
CONCEPT IDEA OF PRESENTING KIND
OF LIKE A MOTIVATIONAL PUSH FOR
RENEWABLE ENERGY IN VILLAGES AND
ALSO TO GOVERNMENT AND TO
POLITICIANS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Nam says MARIO, THANK YOU FOR CHANGING
OUR PERSPECTIVE OF THE CONTINENT
AND TRAVEL WELL.

Mario says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

NAM SAYS THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

Mario says APPRECIATE IT.

Watch: An Epic Trek Across Africa