Abdul steps out of his home in the small village of Oria, Tanzania, into the dim morning light and takes a deep breath of the thin, crisp mountain air that his lungs know so well. As he looks around at his village, he sees in the distance the familiar ridges of the tallest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, which has been a part of his backyard since he was a boy. When gazing at the majesty of this peak, an outsider may see nothing more than an ominous, snow-capped mountaintop, but Abdul sees something much different. He has spent over 15 years climbing Kilimanjaro, and he knows the landscape of this mountain as well as he knows the subtle grooves on the back of his own hand. To Abdul, Kilimanjaro is more than a picturesque backdrop to his village; it is his whole life. This mountain is his job and his livelihood, as well as that of his family and friends in his village. But even more than that, Kilimanjaro is Adbul’s home, and he has a profound love and appreciation for it.
Growing up the fourth of seven children in the village of Moshi, Tanzania, Abdul knew he needed to find a job once he completed secondary school. The son of soldier and a tailor, he started working as a porter on Kilimanjaro in 2005, carrying food and gear up the mountain for the climbers. In 2012, when he became a certified Kilimanjaro guide, Abdul started leading thousands of groups up the arduous 20,000 foot climb, offering his clients his wisdom, advice, and, most importantly, his loyal friendship.
After working for several different tour companies, Abdul, with the help of the Acanela founders Kylie and Andrew, launched his own guide company with his older brother, Harma, in 2015. Abdul saw this transition not only as a way to bring in more income for his beloved wife and two children, but also as a way to give back to his community in Oria. A small, rural town that depends predominantly on rice farming, Oria’s villagers often struggle day to day to make ends meet; Abdul, noticing this need, decided to use the launch of his company as a way to help his neighbors.
Today, Abdul’s business provides an essential source of jobs to the youth in his community, as it is one of the only tour companies that operates out of his village. With the continued help of the Acanela team, Abdul and his coworkers lead thousands of expeditioners every year up the slow trek to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Abdul’s great passion for his work and for his village even drove him to establish a local soccer team with his coworkers called ‘Wapalianda Football Club'. In their language, Wapalianda means ‘mountain climbers,’ and the team decided on that name because, as Abdul says, “climbing mountains is our favorite thing to do; it is our job, and it is our life, too.”