Sihle Khumalo (1975 - ) was born in Nqutu in rural KwaZulu-Natal. He completed his matric at Sukuma Comprehensive School in Imbali Township just outside Pietermaritzburg. He furthered his education at Natal Technikon (now Durban University of Technology), Wits Business School as well as at Stellenbosch Business School.
Khumalo’s works comprise of travel literature that arose from a fascination with the African continent and a childhood dream to explore it. This passion has been channelled into the bestselling book Dark Continent My Black Arse which covers his epic Cape to Cairo trip. His other major African trip which was from Johannesburg to Kigali in Rwanda, also by public transport, is chronicled in the book Heart of Africa. In 2011 he travelled from Dakar in Senegal; through Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and finished off in Accra - Ghana; also using public transport. His latest book, Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu covers this West Africa adventure. In addition to his books, Khumalo has contributed shorter pieces to Cheesecutters and Gymslips, uMama, and written for a number of travel magazines.
His works have been critically acclaimed. The first two books were long-listed for the Alan Paton Award and his third won the 2014 South African Literary Award (SALA) in the creative non-fiction category. In 2011, Khumalo was selected by the Destiny Man Magazine as one of 40 men, under the age of 40, who are Destined for Greatness. His writing has also received endorsements from the likes of Zakes Mda, Max du Preez and Paul Theroux.
Khumalo is married with two children and lives in Johannesburg where he works for a property development company.
Excerpt from Heart of Africa (2009:89):
Lake Tanganyika is said to be very deep. With an average depth of 1470 metres it is the second deepest lake in the world, after Lake Baikal in Russia. It is approximately 673 kilometres long in a north-south direction and, on average, fifty kilometres wide. Looking out over the expanse of water, I started worrying about how often the ferry, which is forever on the move, got a thorough inspection and proper maintenance.
The fact that Lake Tanganyika is so deep was not a comfortable thought to someone (me) who, although he can swim, can only do a few strokes before he needs to stand on firm ground again.
I learned to swim at the mature age of thirty-one. It was one of those things that had been on my To-Do list for ages, but I had not gotten round to it until I wanted to enter the reality-TV show, Survivor South Africa. Then I had no choice but to learn to swim.
The supervisor of the public swimming pool on the main Durban beachfront taught me. The man used to scream, yell and shout at me as if I were a child. I just had to take it – teaching the public to swim was not part of his duties. It took me about two weeks to confidently do my few strokes. As for being a contestant on Survivor, I was shortlisted for the first round of auditions, but since only models made it – as anybody could see when the final contestants were announced – I stood no chance.
I can say this much about swimming: it is one of those things you have to learn to do at a very young age when fear and panic do not feature in your vocabulary.
2013. Almost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu. Cape Town: Umuzi
2009. Heart of Africa: Centre of my Gravity. Cape Town: Umuzi
2007. Dark Continent My Black Arse. Cape Town: Umuzi