Travelling in Africa: Armchair travel giveaway of Njinga by Kate Leeming

I first heard of Kate Leeming’s African adventure via an email from my mother. She told me she’d seen an interview with Kate on TV and was sure I’d love her story.

As many of you will know: mothers are always right! I do love Kate’s story. She’s a fellow Western Australian originally and has spent her life doing all kinds of incredible things, with the most recent amazing adventure being a 299-day bicycle trek across Africa, resulting in her book and film Njinga.

Armchair Travel review of Njinga by Kate Leeming

Njinga: Breaking the Cycle in Africa by Kate Leeming

Kate sent me a copy of her book, Njinga, to review, and it’s really a breathtaking book. Armchair travel for me falls into two kinds: firstly, the tales that remind you of places you’ve been or sound like places you might like to go, and secondly, the kind of travel adventures you know you’re never going to manage yourself, but like to read about. Njinga is most definitely the latter, but I was absolutely enthralled with it.

Kate’s journey across Africa was a massive undertaking, with all kinds of challenges along the way (and some significant dangers at times). But throughout the book, Kate manages to keep the focus looking outward so often – yes, she tells the tale of the personal adventure she was on, but she sets it beautifully in the context of Africa and the African people she meets along the way. She planned the trip to visit numerous organisations across Africa that are trying to improve problems like poverty and education and I love her philosophy of aiming to give a “leg up” rather than a “hand out”. And the traveller in me absolutely loves the way that Njinga still manages to describe the landscape and culture of the twenty different countries Kate travelled through. It’s a great triumvirate of well-written words, lots of photos and detailed maps, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Towards the end of the book (and her journey), Kate writes:

The African continent had been an incredible canvas for an expedition. My journey had flowed from one country to the next and from one issue to another, encountering a continuum of different cultures and crossing diverse landscapes. I had seen and experienced so much but at this point it was all still so raw. Now, nearing the finish, it felt like I was only at the dawn of my voyage of understanding.

Funnily enough, I felt just the same way as a reader. Africa’s a mysterious continent to me, I’ve only been able to see some of northern Africa with short trips to Tunisia and Egypt so far, and so the Africa of Kate’s journey is a stranger to me. But a very intriguing stranger. You might remember this quote from last month:

Travel books about Africa

After reading Njinga, I feel like I have a small sense of what it’s like to “see the world with the lid off”. But I definitely want to know more. You won’t see me riding 22,000km to know more but I do look forward to exploring some of this amazing continent soon.

Giveaway: Two copies of Njinga and a ticket to the film in Perth

Fortunately, I am able to pass on some of this amazement to you, as part of the Armchair Travel month giveaway. Kate Leeming has very kindly sponsored this month of giveaways (massive thanks, Kate) and this week the giveaway includes two copies of her book Njinga, and one free ticket to the screening of the film Njinga in Perth (buy your own film/launch tickets here if you want!).

To win one of these three prizes, you don’t have to jump through too many hoops. You just need to answer the following question, either by leaving a comment below, or leaving a comment on this Facebook post, whichever you prefer. (Make sure you leave me a method to contact you, too – email or Facebook).

The question to answer is:

What is the thing you most want to know about Africa?

(Sorry: book giveaways are for United States and Australia residents only; film ticket giveaway for residents of Perth/Western Australia and available to attend on 15th February.)

Ahead for Kate Leeming: Breaking the Cycle South Pole

Crossing Africa (and Australia and Russia …) by bicycle is not enough! Kate’s next big journey is an Antarctica expedition this southern hemisphere summer, raising money to support the fight against HIV in Africa, a strong need Kate identified during her travels there. I’ll definitely be keeping in touch with Kate and give everyone an update about this trip at some stage but in the meantime this video of Kate’s appearance on Channel 10 here gives a good overview of some of the challenges she’ll face.

I certainly am fascinated by Antarctica (and even have an Antarctic Travel Pinterest board, it’s a place I really want to get to) but I’m certain I won’t try cycling across it – but I will be very happy to try to support Kate in her attempt.


Competition fine print: Njinga book and film ticket

  • Entries close at midnight (Perth time) Wednesday 11th February 2015.
  • The book giveaways are restricted to residents of the United States and Australia, due to postage restrictions – it’s a beautiful but heavy book!
  • The winner of the film ticket needs to be based in or near Perth and available to attend the screening on Sunday 15th February 2015 at 1.30pm in Mt Lawley.
  • This is a game of skill. The most interesting answer will be chosen by an appointed judge.
  • Winners will be notified by email and published on the Facebook page.
  • Prizes are not redeemable for cash and are non-transferable.


So, get to it – three days to comment on this question, gang!

What is the thing you most want to know about Africa?


  1. Being Australian is often defined by those who have not been here by cultural stereotypes and tourist highlights (think drawling Akubra hatted khaki wearing outdoorsy types, pristine white beaches, Uluru and the like) which obviously represents only a very tiny bit of the Australian experience. What would be the greatest misrepresentations of Africa from a local point of view (apart from it being a country rather than a continent)?

  2. oh i would so love to read Kate’s book. Africa is simething thet gets into your blood and your soul. Its kinda hard to explain really but i just love it. We’re taking the kids there in April fir the first time and i hope they love it as much as we do :))

  3. Love to know about the “real” people. Everyday life and beliefs as well as traditions

  4. Africa often seems to be the continent that the west forgets. The inadequate international response to Ebola, the 2000 people killed by the Boko Harem in Nigeria, 5.4 million people killed in Congo since 1996, not to mention disease and environmental degradation are all things that get little mention in our media. What chance is there that Africa can rise above it’s massive challenges and pave a path towards greater stability and prosperity?

  5. I’d like to know how widespread internet connectivity is in Africa – I’ve heard that some third world countries have skipped landlines completely and have mobiles and internet – and I wonder how far that’s spread?

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