WRWR (Women Riders World Relay) is heading to Africa. If you don’t know who or what am talking about click on this link. It is a global movement which started slightly over one year ago and it involves women riders from all over the world passing a baton from one country to another, one continent to another as a relay using our motorcycles. We don’t run for this relay, we ride.
On 2nd January, 2020, the baton will touch down in South Africa and our sisters in the south will send it up north through Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and finally Kenya. These countries are just but the representatives of the entire continent.
The HisTory and HerStory of the African woman.
Women riding motorcycle is not an old tradition in Africa, like it is in other parts of the world. In fact, if you google African women riders, you will find that all the articles are pretty much recent. All written in the past few years and so are any TV interviews.
Our African culture has largely contributed to this. There are many things, activities, careers and hobbies that an African woman could not engage in because, they were considered un-African. Motorcycle riding is just one of them. The good news is that we have overcome quite a lot and can now be placed in the global map. Our fellow women out there believe in us, have supported us and continue to include us in the global map. And WRWR is one way of demonstrated how womanhood and Sisterhood has moved beyond borders. We are one. We are women. We are not defined by colour, location or privileges. We speak one language. Women, mothers, sisters, daughters and natures and together we can achieve anything.
While the future for the African woman is still a lot of work in the kitchen, we must celebrate the milestones we have made. We have seen political representation of women increase, we have seen a decrease in maternal and child mortality. We have seen a decline in early marriages and female genital mutilation and many other atrocities. We are grateful for these milestone.
African women are not sitting around waiting for help. They are doing it from within. Helping each other and fighting these demeaning beliefs and cultures positively. Women who ride in Africa are largely professionals with stable jobs, careers, and businesses. We have stood up to us. They are women who are able to buy a motorcycle of a good brand and can afford to maintain it. They are women in different professions hence a pool of knowledge and skills. In Kenya Suzuki and Ryce Motors sell the most motorcycles to women riders. A number of other women are riding BMW, KTM and other big brands.
African women riders have in their own countries and in their own capacities taken up different initiatives to alleviate the lives of our brothers and sisters. They are addressing medical, education, mentorship, entrepreneur issues to improve the social economic levels and status in Africa.
In west Africa Nigeria and Ghana have the FBI (Female Biker Initiative), having female bikers from various affiliations. The FBi goes into active medical partnership care in the two countries… And are looking to spread to other west African countries soon. They have partnered with various medical professionals to create awareness on breast and Cervical cancer, promote screening and early detection management, while sensitizing on healthy lifestyles to reduce cancer… In our communities.
In Tanzania where women don’t ride for leisure but largely ride for work, Claire Elsdon and Khalid Maagi of PikiLily have worked with women in training them as motorcycle mechanics as well as how to ride. Their e-ranger project which involves repair and maintenance of motorcycle ambulances is largely supported by women. These motorcycles ambulances have helped reduce mortality rate in a country where about 24 women die daily of preventable causes relating to pregnancy and child birth because they cannot get to hospital in time.
In Uganda where there is only one known woman rider, she has teamed up with the male group of riders who each year ride to raise money for cancer patients. She is the voice and face of women in the Pearl of Africa country and a great example that there are no limitations.
In Kenya where we have the second largest number of women riders after South Africa we have a number of clubs with each carrying an initiative towards community support. The initiatives include and range from cancer care and awareness, children homes support, mentorship of teen boys and girls and road safety awareness.
In Botswana, the women riders work hand in hand with their male counterparts to effectively support the education sector through ensuring the students (both boys and girls) have equal opportunity in school by providing optical care and solutions (glasses) to the students with vision impairment.
There are many other wonderful African women riders initiatives and stories in many other African countries. I could write a book.
We are excited to welcome the baton to our continent. We are excited to send it back with a piece of Africa. We are excited that this baton will go back with a lovely story of the African Women Riders. HerStory will be heard far and wide. From South Africa to Kenya, we are representing the entire continent, we will dance to it like we do, we will swing it like we do, we will drum it like we do, we are proudly welcoming WRWR baton to our home, our continent Africa.
PHOTOS AND PHOTO CREDITS.
Picture 1– Kenya women riders during the International Female Riders Day ride May 2018. Photo credit to Njeri Kanja of Hadithi Picha.
Picture 2 – Throttle Queens ladies during one of their wedding escorts. Photo credit to Throttle Queens.
Picture 3 – Hayley Bell the founder of WRWR – Photo credit to WRWR Facebook page.