Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane is a South African mountaineer, adventurer, expedition leader, marathon runner, motivational speaker, and author. Further, he is also renowned as the chief scout of the Scouts in South Africa. However, his most notable achievement in his life is his climb to Mount Everest. While there have been many mountaineers and adventurers who have been to the summit, there had not been a single black man who had summited Everest before Vilane. He set the world record as the first black man to conquer Everest.
He did not, however, ascend the tallest peak in the world on his very first try at mountaineering. It took him years of being an adventure enthusiast and getting to know people from the mountaineering community to finally become successful in making the final and most extravagant summit of all time. He is a representative for not only black people but also everyone who loves the mountains.
If you want to know more about Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane, make sure to read till the end of this article!
Who is Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane?
Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane was born on December 1, 1970 in Shongwe Mission in Mpumalanga. He is best known for his climb to the 8848 mountain for the very first time in black history. When he was only 11 years old, his South African father and Swazi mother moved to Swaziland. He started his schooling journey from Mater Dolorosa school in Swaziland. Initially in his life, he did not figure out his love for mountaineering and had to work as a laborer and a goatherder.
With time, Vilane discovered a career as a game ranger in 1993 at Malolotja Nature Reserve in Swaziland. He loyally worked at the reserve for eight years until he joined the Bongani Mountain Lodge, again as a ranger. His job included taking visitors of the reserve or lodge on tours through the trails.
Luckily for him, he met the then British High Commissioner to Swaziland, John Doble, in his job. Impressed by his skills, Doble was confident that Vilane would work better as a mountaineer. He really didn’t want to see a waste of potential, which led to the two coming to a decision. Doble promised the ranger that he would find him financial help for the Everest expedition, and Sibusiso promised to climb Mount Everest once everything was set.
However, it was not easy for Vilane to climb Everest immediately. He started climbing as his job in 1996. He summited Cathedral Peak, Mont-aux-Sources, Sterk Horn, and Cleft Peak in the Drakensberg. In 1999, he also became successful in ascending Mount Kilimanjaro, which is the tallest mountain in Tanzania. It was only, finally, in 2003, that he was able to test his skills at Mount Everest. Vilane became the world’s first black man to conquer the tallest peak on 26 May 2003, which was a day after all of Africa celebrated Africa Day. Furthermore, his climb was also coincidentally on the celebration of the 50th climbing anniversary of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hilary, who became the first people on Earth to set foot on the summit of the mountain. President Thabo Mbeki also congratulated him for making his nation proud.
While his first ascent to Everest was for personal goal achievement, his second ascent was aimed at raising charity for South Africa. South African mountaineer Alex Harris and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes went with him on his second expedition to the peak in 2005. They started from the Northern Ridge. Fortunately for him, Vilane also became the first black man to climb the mountain twice.
Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane Mountaineering
After having spent several years in mountaineering, Vilane started working actively in the mountains. Throughout his life, he has been able to climb some of the tallest and most renowned mountains in the world. He was also the first black man to summit all seven summits in the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Everest, Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, Carstensz Pyramid, Vinson Massif, and Denali/Mount McKinley in the years 1999, 2003, and 2005, 2006, 2006, 2006, 2006, and 2008 respectively.
Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane Humanitarian Work
Sibusiso’s second expedition to Mount Everest was dedicated to raising funds for South Africa’s development. While a lot of other mountaineers have been engaged in mountaineering and outdoor activities for their personal goal accomplishment, this is not the case for Vilane, as he has done everything for the sake of his country.
After his summit to a few mountains, he raised funds for educational, health care, and revenue-forging institutions like Swaziland-based SOS Children’s Village, Birth to Twenty, the Chris Hani-Baragwanath-based children’s research body, and Africa Foundation. He is also the African ambassador for Lifeline Energy (formerly the Free Play Foundation). Emmanuel trekked for 1113 km to the South Pole, yet again, for humanitarian purposes. Many international agencies appreciated and acknowledged his efforts and helped him, to an extent, get further funds and donations.
He became the official Ambassador to the Mandela Bangle program, which is a library program raising funds under “Participate for Good Expeditions”. Similarly, he is also a member of Global Offering (GO) projects, an eco ambassador for Indalo Yethu, and a supporter of Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Leadership Group, which focuses on environmental protection. He has been working as a contributor to a private game reserve in Limpopo.
Sibusiso held the position of Chief Scout in Scouts Africa from 2013 to 2017.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Who is the first black man to summit the Seven Summits?
Sibusiso Emmanuel Vilane was the first black man to summit the Seven Summits.
What controversy was Sibusiso Vilane involved in?
Vilane was a team leader on an expedition where a member died while ascending. The mountaineer made a statement saying, “I asked him how he was, and he said, ‘I’m ok… I suspect there is some flu creeping in. ‘” which was deemed controversial.
What are Vilane’s achievements?
Vilane met the Queen at Buckingham Palace after his climbing feats. He was also a part of the Three Poles Challenge, reaching the summit of Everest and the South and North Poles, and he led a team of expeditors to Aconcagua.
When did Vilane reach the North Pole?
Vilane reached the North Pole in 2012.
Who is Vilane’s wife?
Sibusiso Vilane’s wife goes by the name Nomsa.