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Lungi Mchunu launches epic quest to sail into the record books

South African sailor Lungi Mchunu is attempting to become the first African woman to sail to the North Pole.

Lungi's expedition, which left Rostock in Germany mid-July and aims to leave the Arctic by September before it gets iced in, is aimed at raising awareness of climate change amongst the youth.

Lungi, who is documenting her experiences for Canon, will use her film and photographs to ‘paint’ a picture of the impact of human behaviour on the planet. She will also use her experience, and the knowledge imparted by scientists and researchers, to customise the story for an African audience.

“Before I began sailing, I was just as uninformed as the next person about ocean health and climate change issues," she says. "While most people will never travel to the Arctic, it touches our daily lives in more ways than we realise. Scientists refer to it as the world’s refrigerator.

"It keeps the planet cool and plays a critical role in regulating global temperatures and counteracting climate change. To bring it closer to home, if the Arctic ice continues to melt at the rate that it has, the heat waves that South Africans have been experiencing will become worse, so will drought, which is already a problem affecting our agricultural sector."

The fieldwork Lungi and her colleagues are doing is proactive and includes studying the ice melting rate and how it affects the weather patterns that we will experience in South Africa over the festive season.

“I want my audience to understand the impact of our behaviour on the environment, and hopefully inspire them to change>'

Lungi plans on doing an exhibition and conducting talks on climate change at schools, companies and non-profit organisations when she returns to South Africa.

Lungi got interested in photography in 2013 when she started photographing her basketball community initiatives. At the time the International Federation believed that there was no basketball in South Africa and she wanted to find ways to bridge the communication gap between players and FIBA (International Federation).

She bought a Canon 1100D and began using photography to tell the story and raise local basketball to a global platform. She then also began documenting her sailing story through photography.

“When words fail me, my photos speak for me," she says.

First published in Click.

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