African adventure

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Four recent St. John’s graduates, NICK STANHOPE, REBECCA GOWLAND, JONNY POLONSKY and ROBERT HADMAN give us weekly updates as they cycle the length of Africa to campaign against slavery #1 Rob: The story begins… A couple of years ago my friend Nick Stanhope invited me to join him for what can only be described as “the trip of a lifetime”. This horrible cliché was, however, justified. His plan was to travel by bicycle all the way from Cape Town to London. It was irresistible and I immediately signed up. At the time, Nick and I lived in a skanky house on Museum Road. It was our second year, and hence levels of maturity were at an all time low. Nick, an immaculately dressed, eyebrow-plucking alpha male, brought a tiny measure of class and responsibility to the house, yet his bike-ride idea was anything but compatible with the middle-aged, father-figure tag with which I had branded him. So Nick, Becks, my feminist fiancée, Jonny and I committed ourselves to the summer of 2003 for our adventure. Becks’ experience as chair of the University’s branch of Amnesty International gave us the focus necessary to turn this pipe dream into today’s reality. Personal connections to Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People and one of the world’s leading authorities on modern slavery, inspired us to raise money and awareness for Anti-Slavery International, the oldest human rights charity in the world. Fund-raising has been fun but exhausting. We have managed to raise roughly £25,000 so far, £15,000 of which ASI has already received. Saracen Bikes gave us four very shiny machines at an incredibly good price, all our spares have been severely discounted and our flights donated through relatives’ air-miles. Contributors range from Jeremy Paxman to Jeffrey Archer, but we’re still waiting for Sting and Desmond Tutu… Getting a documentary off the ground has also proved tough, but it’s been really fun pursuing contracts, coming up with ideas and talking about factors such as group psychology. We decided to set off from Cape Town on 23rd August, International Slavery day, cycling 100 miles a day, investigating and filming cases of slavery en route, camping every night, and producing a documentary on the move. Our route should take us from South Africa, through Mozambique and Malawi and into Tanzania. From there we aim to cycle into Kenya and then to Ethiopia. Then it gets very tricky; Sudan is a bit of a shit to get into and not much fun once you’re there, it’s one of those war-in-adesert type places with a flourishing slave trade and a distinct lack of roads. Then when/if we get to Egypt, we’re still thinking of making a break for Jordan and coming round the Med via Syria and Turkey You will get updates of our weekly progress here but please check out our swanky website at www.capetowntolondon.co. uk – any interest we can generate amongst jobless students will be helpful. Next week we’ll be thousand miles closer to home and doubtless will have lots more to report – look forward to photos of our scabby arses…ARCHIVE: 0th Week MT2003 

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