Greg James, Phillips Idowu, Dara O-Briain and Chelsee heeley get ready for Africa

Greg James, Phillips Idowu, Dara O’Briain and Chelsee Heeley get ready for Africa

Every year celebrities travel over to Africa and witness what they call devastating conditions (it’s a shame they only ever show the ‘poorer areas’ and don’t congratulate any of the continent’s growth!)

So far this year we have heard of One Direction supposedly visiting the ‘slums’ of Ghana and now six celebrities take on the challenge of white water rafting single handily down the Zambezi River in southern Africa, meeting locals along the way.

One of these is 34-year-old Olympian Phillips Idowu, from Hackney.

Wanting to support the cause and help more children get into schooling, he took on the challenge alongside Waterloo road actress Chelsee Healey, Spice Girl Melanie C, Radio One DJ Greg James and comedians Dara O’Briain and Jack Dee.

The celebs fight the rapids

The celebs fight the rapids

Setting off this week on Monday 28 January in Sekoma Island, the six have battled their way down the Zambezi River, locally known as the ‘Gnashing Jaws of Death’!

Sounds more like a relaxing cruise.

Anyway along the way they have made stops in different areas near the river, with the final stop at Victoria Falls.


But Phillips found it particularly difficult on day three (Wednesday) when he, Chelsee and Jack Dee walked along with Zambian school children from Thorntree, who trek for two hours before reaching school each day. He said

I have a son and a daughter, and when I looked at every single one of these kids it was like looking at your own child. I thought how I would feel if that was the lifestyle my kids had to live. But these are the lucky ones – there are plenty of kids out there who can’t even get to school at all!

And that isn’t all the athlete struggled with, admitting to feeling physically unfit during the journey,

It’s back-breaking stuff. Before I got even half way my back was killing me!

Phillips tearful

Tearful Phillips

Let’s just hope they all make it back in one piece after their final day of swimming alongside the hippos, crocodiles and snakes tomorrow.