Friday, September 28, 2012

In Conversation With: Lerato Mogoatlhe “Half Human, Half Amazing”

I love LeratoMogoatlhe. I love her because she doesn't just dream but she lives her dreams. And I love her for not just saying she is proudly African but for stepping out of her comfort zone to experience her continent. She inspires me.

Image stolen from her Facebook page :-)

When was the last time you journeyed our continent intensely?

It was in 2010, and I was at it for 6 months. I was in East Africa; Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania. I didn't go to my other planned destinations which were; Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. I came back home because I ran out of steam and cash.

What discouraged me the most was that when I wanted to go to Ethiopia, I could only get a visa if I flew to Nairobi. The only other ways to get the visa was if I was Kenyan, Eastern African or had a residential permit in East Africa.

It’s really crushing when you want to go to a place and you are forced to take the privileged route when you don’t have the privilege.

With no steady salary, what did you live on?

I was freelancing; I had a column in True Love, Sunday Times and City Press. I also always chose the cheapest mode of travel and accommodation.

When did the travel-bug bite?

In 2006, when I was an entertainment journalist for City Press, I went on a media trip to Zanzibar. I hated every single moment of it. I learnt then that I don’t like travelling in groups. 

It was only when we were flying out and I saw Zanzibar from the aerial view - I fell in love. I decided then to change my attitude when travelling. 

In the same year I was on another media trip to Ghana and from the moment we arrived I knew I was going to love it there. The air in Ghana is humid but not overwhelming. West Africa has a great pulse and energy, the people are fun and friendly. 

On the day we were leaving I told myself that if I saw a Woolworths store I’d move to Ghana. I didn't expect to see it but five minutes later a Woolies appeared. That was a significant sign for me. I went home and started looking for a job in Ghana.

But things didn't work out like that?

I didn't find a job in Ghana as planned. But towards the end of 2007 I decided I wanted to leave my job as a music and entertainment journalist – I was bored. I had three options: Go back to varsity, start a business or travel. 23 June 2008 I boarded a SAA flight to Dakar Senegal.

You planned to travel for 3-months but you were there for more than a year?

My intention was to go to Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ivory Coast. I went to them all and added Torgo, Bernine and Guinea. I kept travelling because I was having the time of my life. I gave myself fully to the travel experience. I went with the flow and what a beautiful flow it was.

Fast forward to 2011 you are back in SA and working for True Love Magazine…

21 countries later, I ran out of money and believed I’d gotten all I could get from my travels. I figured it was time to resume normal life.

And how was life behind a desk?

It was not a train smash. The train smash was my travels were becoming a distant memory. As time kept moving I realised that I wanted travelling to be my life. I didn't want 10-years from now to be that person saying, “in x year I took three years of my life to travel”.

Where to from here?

I have a one-way ticket to Burundi. I fly out on the 7th of October. My first goal is to travel my continent and when I’m done, the rest of the world. I’ll come back to South Africa to visit but I don’t want to stay here.

Where and when are you going to settle down?

I will settle down in my grave. I do worry about having a house and all the usual ‘normal’ stuff but I don’t want to die without giving myself a chance to live a life that makes me truly happy.

For more on Lerato's travels stalk her online via twitter: @LeratoMogoatlhe and her blog


  1. Go for it! he best advice I got was "travel in your twenties, even if you have to borrow money to do it". Not it's highly addictive.

  2. i love this woman. i have met her severally in Nairobi. she is just too awesome to let go whenever she is in town.

    1. I'll let her know David. Thank you for reading.

  3. Half amazing? For me, she is fully amazing. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing.
    alveo lerato