The Uganda Bikers
By Pietro Averono
Shimmering headlights glimmering in the distance rapidly grow in intensity. The changing pitch of mechanical motors mutter and they pass, jacket patches revealing the riders to be members of The Uganda Bikers.
Started in 2003 by a group of motorcycle enthusiasts, both local and expatriate, who realised that, while riding for fun, they could also ride for a cause, The Uganda Bikers have over the years promoted behaviour change as a means of controlling the spread of HIV/Aids and rendered financial assistance to orphans affected or infected by Aids, while practicing safe motorcycling, through Uganda and other countries in sub Saharan Africa.
With the generous assistance of our sponsors, The Uganda Bikers have been able to make contributions towards “Operation School Fees”, facilitating the education of the orphans of the “Reach Out” initiative of the Mbuya parish, and have provided financial assistance towards the completion of The St Josephs School, Kireka, where a number of the orphans receive their education.
Most of the riders started off riding street cruisers but over the years adopted adventure motorcycles as a more suitable platform.
Working in cooperation with the commissioner of the traffic police, the Uganda Bikers endeavour to promote safe road use amongst other road users by always travelling in full protective gear which includes helmet, padded jacket, and pants, as well as boots, and gloves. Boda boda riders are encouraged in safer road use being supplied with reflective jackets free of charge.
Departing for Arua earlier this year the bikers admired the scenic beauty of the mighty Nile tumbling over Karuma Falls, before proceeding along the road transecting Northern Murchison Falls National Park. Enjoying lunch in Pakwach we reached Arua at four in the afternoon.
Regular participants in the Nairobi Concourse d’ Elegance, the Uganda Bikers have proved a focal point of attraction at the annual motor show. Although the motorcycles are prepared in advance, entry in the event is particularly tricky as the motorcycles proceed from Kampala by road over some of the more challenging roads in East Africa. On arrival in Nairobi we spend a day in the preparation and cleaning of the machines.
Facing stiff competition from cars and motorcycles hailing from as far afield as South Africa the bikers compete against entries dating back to the 1930’s. Representing Uganda at the event the Uganda Bikers regularly win prizes, achieving 6th, 8th and 10th places during the 2000 event. The varied landscape enroute makes this one of the most enjoyable rides on our annual calendar.
During 2004 twelve members of the Uganda Bikers, (designated Ambassadors of Hope by the Uganda Ministry of Health), travelled 6027 km from Johannesburg, South Africa, traversing Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya spreading the message of behaviour change as the key to curbing the spread of HIV/Aids, at venues arranged by the Ministries of Health of the various countries. The motorcycles were transported to Johannesburg by sea and required partial reassembly in Johannesburg. We toured Soweto, accompanied by vocalist Yvonne Chaka Chaka, visiting Mandela House and the Apartheid Museum. The journey included the national parks of Botswana and the beauty of Victoria Falls. Entering Tanzania under police escort we made regular village stops attended by large crowds, conveying the Ugandan HIV/Aids success story. Our Dar Es Salaam reception was attended by a jubilant crowd with a college presenting a play on HIV/Aids control. Enjoying a rest day we visited Bagamoyo.
The former Tanzanian head of state, the honourable Hassan Mwinyi, flagged us of on the next leg of our journey. Along the way we were able to view the majesty of Mount Kilimanjaro. Two days in Nairobi were spent on maintenance. We entered Kampala in procession led by the Police Brass Band and were received at Constitutional Square by the Minister of State for Health and our sponsors and supporters. The experiences of this twenty two day safari, and the fellowship enjoyed with fellow bikers will live with us forever.
During 2005 we toured Rwanda. The mountainous terrain, sweeping curves and excellent roads made for enjoyable motorcycling, prompting a second tour as far as Bujumbura in Burundi during 2006.
Trips to Gulu during the conflict period enabled the bikers to present bales of clothing and candy to the children of the Phaleng refugee camp. During one trip we passed through Murchison Falls National Park and had the opportunity of observing elephant grazing barely thirty meters distant, while sitting on our motorcycles.
The Mount Elgon region and Sipi Falls are frequent destinations due to the vastly improved roads.
We recently went to Fort Portal, attending the coronation of King Oyo, on his eighteenth birthday.
Over the weekend June 11 to 13, we visited Hoima attending the anniversary of the coronation of King Solomon Gafabusa of the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. From Hoima the bikers proceeded to Fort Portal, before returning to Kampala.
The Uganda Bikers welcomes new members provided they own a reliable motorcycle of at least 400cc capacity.
For more information, please contact:
Mobile: +256 702 492679 / +256 772 770940.