The Sunday Mail
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
For Tawanda Chikasha, his history-making journey across the Atlantic Ocean began on a canoe in the early 2000s.
Chikasha is the only Zimbabwean who has taken part in the Cape to Rio yacht race — a 6 000-kilometre journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
The race began eight days ago and is expected to last for 21 days.
Speaking from his Cape Town base before the race began, Chikasha said being part of the race means a lot to him.
“It is the biggest offshore sailing event in the Southern Hemisphere. I am not taking that lightly.
“This is an opportunity to prove that young people are capable of doing extraordinary things. The objective is to win the race so that I encourage the youth to take part in great sporting competitions at the highest levels,” he said.
Chikasha’s team consists of students from the University of Pretoria and Wits University. These are Emma Clark (Wits), Jonathan Ham (UP), Hearn Johnson (Wits), Ryan Robinson (Wits) and Michaela Robinson (UP).
They are called the JM BUSHA 54 Sailing Team, named after title partner and social firm, JM BUSHA 54.
The JM BUSHA 54 team will be sailing on a 35ft (11m) yacht called Ciao Bella.
As Chikasha sails across the world, his father Francis Chikasha is on cloud nine.
“I’m a proud man, very proud indeed,” said the older Chikasha.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day my son would be taking part in a race like this, let alone make history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to do so,” he said. Though he would be the last to admit it, Francis is behind his son’s love for the sea and the historic feat.
‘‘Being a former rugby player, albeit at provincial level, I’ve always encouraged my boys to take up sport.
“He followed in my footsteps, to some level at least, as he played rugby at St George’s College. He even represented the nation in golf,” he said. The defining moment for both Francis and his son came in the early 2000s.
“I worked as a professional canoe guide and eventually became the general manager of a canoe company on the Zambezi River (Shearwater Adventures).
“It’s either Tawanda fell in love with the sea during a holiday trip where we participated in some recreational scuba diving some years back, or his affinity for water grew during boat rides during my time with Shearwater Adventures,” he said.
Either way, the gods have certainly smiled on the 22-year-old. Chikasha is now in his final year at Wits University, where he is studying a Bachelor of Science in Economics Degree.
A scholarship offer to do his master’s at a university in France awaits him.
Whether at sea or on land, the future looks bright for this young man.