It is 10 days since Kui passed on. Her death caused by a reckless driver. We just laid her to rest today in her family home. All along I could not help thinking that we shouldn’t be here. Kui would have been riding today to work or somewhere else. She could be here were it not for a reckless driver who took away her life. I am angry, angry at the driver, angry at the systems that enabled her death and the death of so many others. You can drink and drive because you can buy your freedom at a thousand Kenya shillings. You can kill anyone and go scot free because if you know someone in the system, you just give “kitu kindogo” and get away with it. Our systems are not punitive to these recklessness, they are enablers of illegality. It costs very little to break the law than it costs to abide by it. And that is how our dear Kui’s life was cut short.
On 21st November, a slow Saturday evening, WhatsApp messages on my phone were beeping more than usual. Mostly, the girls in my biking group are usually active on our WhatsApp chat group. And although more than half of us have never met face to face, we have such an amazing sisterhood. Actually our group is called “Inkedsisterhood”. We can discuss anything in this group. From girly stuff to supporting each other on our different areas of life. Motherhood, career, riding there is always someone coming through for a sister.
I checked my messages at around 22:00 o’clock. As usual, I scroll down looking for the most interesting ones. The interesting ones always have the most responses with the funniest emojis. Unfortunately on this evening, one message had the most responses with the emotional 😭 and sad 😔 emojis. The message was announcing the passing of one of us, I mean one of the girls in our group. The first woman rider in Kenya to have died in a motorcycle accident. The news were and still is unbearable.
The most interaction I had with Kui is about a month ago, when she sent me a message requesting to be added into the South American ride 2022 group on Facebook. She shared her excitement about riding in South America and wanted to make sure she starts preparing early enough. We became Facebook friends on this day as well. I may have said hello to her in person at the flag off for Bikers 4 Boobies ride last month, but I don’t remember well. There was way too many people.
Kui’s accident had nothing to do with riders error. She was an experienced and responsible rider with a number of rides where she was a sweeper or escort (the one who is responsible for making sure no biker is left behind. Usually rides the last in a group). She was that responsible. I can imagine her excitement on Friday evening, knowing she had a ride the following day. It’s a feeling most of you won’t understand, only a biker knows this feeling. She was riding with friends, three other gentlemen. The three gentlemen so shaken and the family so broken, the details of how she met her death would emerge later.
As scanty as the details are to us and the public, it is said that a young man of about 19 years of age, who is said to have been intoxicated and driving at a high speed, swerved to her lane after loosing control of his car. He hit Kui with the side of the car throwing her crashing on the hard tarmac. The huge impact left her with severe internal injuries. She succumbed to the injuries on arrival at the hospital. The other riders were just saved by the grace of God as he narrowly missed them. He could have killed all four of them. If this young man was intoxicated as the news say, why did the police let him go? May be one day we will know!!. Without more detail, we are left to mourn Kui, a young woman whose life was cut short by a reckless driver.
Every biker leaves their home with the fear of not returning home because bikers are treated as not deserving to be on the roads. There is absolute no respect for bikers on our roads. “You drivers!!” are always out to kill us. You have succeeded a couple of times and we have a number of angels riding in heaven. You have robbed wives their husbands, children their dads, sisters their brothers mothers and fathers their sons and now you came for the daughter and auntie.
Your animosity and disrespect towards bikers is evident in how you overtake when a biker is oncoming, how you push us off the roads, how you deny us parking in the streets, building and malls. To you, we are not deserving of anything. Many times we have to get off the road just to save our lives. Our lives on the roads are “Us against the world”. If only you could respect us and share the roads with us!!
Kui was an author, she has authored the book “Those that came before us “. How could she now be “The one who left before us”. Kui was also involved heavily in social community work and was a volunteer at the Vitabu Vyetu. The tribute from her colleagues at Vitabu Vyetu read in part and I quote; “There is no explaining how big a loss her demise is to our team and the children alike. We will remember Kui as the intelligent lady who contributed in the formulation, revision and implementation of our curriculum. Smart such that she knew how to interact with all types of people and make them all feel included while at it. A team player at hear. Kui was the type of person to read and act out whatever she was reading dramatically, as she believed it aided the students understand. She collected pens and stationery from her workplace and colleagues, for the kids because she said, “every pen counts”.
Those that came before us. Women Warriors by Kui Gitonga
The death of Kui has come as a very big blow and loss not only to the biking community but the public at large. It has hit home and we can’t help to ask – “How many need to die before road traffic offenses STOP being solved with a few folded notes by the roadside? How many need to die for bikers to earn respect on the roads?”, How many need to die, for the public to see bikers and riding as no different from driving and share the road?”. We have so many questions AND ONE APEAL to all of you!! SHARE THE ROAD, RESPECT A BIKER. Our fellow biker Wakili Timam put it very well in his post. I would like to leave you with that message and hope that we will not loose another biker to a reckless or drunk driver.
To the young driver, I pray you change your ways. Do you sleep? do you find sleep at all?
“Thee well Rev Sister. Ride with the Angels. Tutaonana badaye“