Suhana Jacobs, a 44-year-old PhD student, reached the summit on September 25, just two months after Zulu died on the mountain.
Jacobs hoisted a banner in his honour, even though she had never met him.
“I was just two months away from embarking on the expedition when news broke that Zulu had died on the mountain. The news was devastating to me and what followed was a period of deep introspection.
“It was also during this period that I began to read more about Gugu and his amazing zest for life. Seeing pictures of him and his wife always reaching for the clouds inspired me and that is when I decided to dedicate my climb to him,” she said.
Jacobs, a mother of three, said unravelling the banner which was emblazoned with a photo of Gugu and the words: “In memory of Gugu Zulu” against a background of Mount Kilimanjaro, had been a cathartic moment.
“Everyone on the summit broke out in applause; people from all over the world. The guides were moved because they all knew Gugu, even though they hadn’t met him.
“The guides spontaneously started cheering: ‘Viva South Africa’ and ‘Viva Madiba’. For me, unfolding the banner was a moment of triumph knowing that Gugu was with me throughout my journey and that we had reached the summit together.”
She said she would never forget that moment when she placed the banner with the picture of a smiling Zulu on Uhuru Peak.
“It was surreal. It was as if Gugu was smiling at all of us, smiling at his family and smiling at everyone at home,” she said.