Motivational and inspirational speaker, mountaineer and expedition guide and leader Sibusiso was born at Shongwe Mission in Mpumalanga, South Africa. His South African father and Swazi mother moved the family to Swaziland and that’s where Sibu was eventually schooled (from the age of 11). After a stint as a labourer, and drawing on his experienced as a goatherd, Sibu began his working career as a game ranger in Swaziland in 1993. In 1996 he met John Doble who became a great friend and benefactor, and who was instrumental in finding the necessary sponsorship for Sibusiso's Everest summit expedition.
Sibusiso started climbing in 1996 by summitting peaks in the Drakensberg. In 1999 he summitted Kilimanjaro and went on to the Himalayas in 2002, successfully climbing Pokalde, Lobujé and Island Peak, all of which are over 6 000 metres high, as part of his training for the Everest expedition.
In March 2003, Sibusiso set off for the Himalayas again in his quest to be the first black African to summit earth's largest and most fearsome mountain, Everest, the Queen of the Himalayas. He summitted successfully on 26 May 2003.
On that day, South African President Thabo Mbeki congratulated him on his achievement and grit. “In this, he has shown the heights we can all scale in life if we put our shoulder to the wheel and work at things without flagging. Sibusiso, you have done us proud!” (In 2006 Sibusiso was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (Bronze) by President Thabo Mbeki. Technically he can sign his name 'Sibusiso Vilane, OIB'.)
In 2005 Sibusiso reached the summit of Everest again with Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Alex Harris after accessing the peak from the North Ridge - the more difficult and statistically less-successful side. This achievement meant that he is the first black African to climb the world's highest peak twice and by two different routes. Three children's charities benefitted from his climb: The Birth to Twenty Research Programme at Wits University, the Africa Foundation and the SOS Children's Village in Swaziland.
Sibusiso is one of a handful of South Africans, and the first black African, to achieve the feat of climbing each of the Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks on each of the seven continents.
1. Kilimanjaro (Africa) 1999
2. Everest (Asia) 2003 and 2005
3. Aconcagua (South America) 2006
4. Elbrus (Europe) 2006
5. Carstensz Pyramid (Oceania) 2006
6. Vinson (Antarctica) 2006
7. Denali/McKinley (North America) 2008
On 17 January 2008, Sibu and his Team Extreme partner, Alex Harris, became the first South Africans to walk to the South Pole completely unassisted. In early 2012 Sibu completed the three poles ‘challenge’ when he trekked to the North Pole. (The Three Poles are the North Pole, the South Pole and Everest.)
Sibusiso’s irrepressible spirit and infectious enthusiasm for life inspires and uplifts people of all backgrounds and circumstances, and especially children. As a professional speaker, his message is simple: every person has their own “Everest” to climb. Whether you’re prepared for it or not, it’s there - challenging you to reach the top. And if he can do that in the most dangerous and inhospitable of conditions and against all the odds so, he suggests, can you.
Since 2006, Sibusiso has been the African ambassador for Lifeline Energy (formerly the Free Play Foundation) - see www.lifelineenergy.org. He dedicated the 1,113 kilometres he trekked to the South Pole, in some of the worst conditions imaginable, to the children of South Africa. In May 2008, as a result of this generous act and hundreds of sponsors supporting Sibu, Lifeline Energy was able to provide 300 Lifeline radios to children from the Nkomazi district, where Sibu was born.
"The future entirely depends on the education of children, their access to information to broaden their thinking and understanding of the ever-changing and challenging world" says Sibu.
Sibusiso founded a running club called Born to Win. He has also hosted a radio show 'My Climb, Your Climb' on 1485 Radio Today in which he interviewed black achievers about the challenges they faced and overcame in their careers and lives. He was also patron of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Leadership Group.
Sibusiso is married to Nomsa and is the proud father of four. He supports the educational needs of three young girls in honour of those who contributed to his own education when his parents couldn’t afford it.
On Thursday December 2011 Sibu was introduced to the Queen of England at a reception at Buckingham Palace. The reception was held to acknowledge those involved in mountaineering, adventurer and exploration. Also present was Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a great friend of Sibu.
In January 2012, and again in 2013, Sibusiso successfully guided a team of South Africans up Mount Aconcagua. This is the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, the highest in South America and one of the seven summits. In 2012 he helped five of the team members to the summit of this mountain including South Africa’s youngest person to summit Aconcagua (at age fifteen).
In 2012 Sibusiso became a fully-fledged member of the British Alpine Club.
Sibusiso has become the only black South African to complete the grand slam of adventuring known as the Three Poles Challenge: reaching the summit of Everest, South and North Pole. Sibu’s last achievement of the three, the North Pole, took place in April 2012.
In 2012 Sibusiso was included in the ‘Green Book 'of South Africa's 100 Most Influential People in Sport’ at a function hosted by Minister Fikile Mbalula of the Department of Sport and Recreation.
In April 2013 Sibusiso Vilane teamed up with legendary long-distance runner Bruce Fordyce to run the African-X trail run in the Cape.
On 2 June 2013 Sibusiso ran his fifth Comrades Marathon in aid of the 46664 Bangle Initiative. For more about the work of this charity, please see www.46664bangles.com.
In July 2013 Sibusiso summitted Mount Kilimanjaro with Richard Mabaso and Joshua Awesome on Mandela Day.
In December 2013 Sibusiso was appointed as Chief Scout for the South African Scouts Association.