MARGARET SAMULELA, Lusaka
WORLD traveller and motivational speaker Najmun Nahar could not have picked a better spot than Zambia’s Victoria Falls to mark her centenary journey into her 100th country spreading the message of love.
The Victoria Falls, the seventh natural wonder of the world, was first made known to the outside world, when a world traveller, like herself, fell mesmerised by its sheer splendour.
“…But scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight,” wrote missionary and explorer David Livingstone as he reported back to the Queen in faraway England.
But maybe Nahar has gazed upon even more beautiful sights, as she has travelled through a 100 countries looking for and spreading the message of love.
“My message is really that under the skin, we are all one people. And by travelling, I have learnt to respect all religions, races and ethnic groupings because we are all essentially looking for the same thing in this journey of life,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Mail.
Nahar has taken a lifelong mission to motivate people across the world to see the goodness in each individual. She is doing this with her country’s flag in one hand and a message of love in the other.
Originally from Bangladesh in Asia, Ms Nahar, an avid climber, has traversed through countries in all six continents and seen the world from the summit of several mountain tops.
“In Peru, in the Peruvian Andes, I was enchanted by the rhythmic blending of rainbow colours atop the Vinincunca Mountain, which is also known as the rainbow mountain,’ she said.
Nahar carries her country flag on each trip, and this has earned her the nickname Bangladesh flag girl.
“My entry point on this leg of the journey into Africa was Ethiopia, where I have a friend I met at a conference in South Korea some years back. With her aid, I was able to interact with the natives and also share a motivational talk with some pupils at a school,” she said.
From Ethiopia, Nahar travelled by road through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania before entering Zambia through Nakonde.
She made the crossover into Zimbabwe by foot and will leave Zimbabwe by plane back to Bangladesh before embarking on the next one.
“I have always known Zambia to be a peaceful nation, but now I know its nation with very friendly and welcoming people,” she said.
Sharing the story of how her love of travelling begun, Nahar recalls the inspiration from her father to not only get an education, but also take advantage of all the opportunities the school offered.
“So, I joined the Girl’s Scouts and before long, we were travelling within the country and into the neighbouring Asian countries. With every trip, I yearned for more,” she said.
After excelling in her education, Nahar got a scholarship in 2006 to study for a Masters in Asian Studies at Lund University in Sweden, and this opened up a huge opportunity for her to tour Europe.
“With a Schengen visa, I have been able to tour many of the European countries. I saved most of the money I earned through work and would use my off days to leap off to any nearby country. This also took a lot of route planning and looking out for any good deals on flights so that I could get the cheapest one,” she said.
After getting a visa to America for some research work, Nahar took the opportunity to visit most of the states with her mother.
“While in the Swiss Alps, my mother was captivated by the wonderful scenery that she burst into song. Looking at her, I saw a younger beautiful version of her and was thankful that I had taken her on that trip,” she said.
Nahar has also travelled with her siblings especially within Asia.
“But mostly, I am a solo traveller, and will join travel groups or hiking groups as that provides safety. However, after that I usually just go alone and mingle with the natives of that nation I am in,” she said.
During the Girl’s Scout days, one of the trips involved climbing up a local mountain top. It was at the top that Nahar combined her love for people, climbing and feeling the motivation to love.
“Up on that mountain, within those clouds, I saw the love of God and made a decision to share it with the world,” she said, in reference to the help she received from total strangers while in Zambia.
With every journey, Nahar keeps her social media fans updated on her movements, and they edge her on.
“When I get back to Bangladesh, I hold motivational talks with universities, colleges and different communities. And even when I travel, I try to keep my social media audience motivated,” she said.
“I will ride on foot with sixteen million people in my heart to Zimbabwe from Zambia’s famous Victoria Falls!” she wrote on Facebook.
The post received thousands of cheers from her fans.