Unogwaja cyclists given a rousing welcome

2016-05-30 10:32
Dale Bannatyne having an emotional moment as he meet his wife Sarah and baby Mckenzie.

Dale Bannatyne having an emotional moment as he meet his wife Sarah and baby Mckenzie. (Thabang Mathebula, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Cyclists taking part in the Unogwaja Challenge — which has raised money for Umsilinga Primary school — were given a rousing welcome as they arrived in the capital city on Saturday.

The Unogwaja (hare) had cycled all the way from Cape Town before running the Comrades marathon yesterday.

The challenge started six years ago to emulate Phil Masterton-Smith, who in 1933 could not afford a train ticket from Cape Town to Pietermaritzburg to run the Comrades. Masterton-Smith cycled to Pietermaritzburg and ­finished the marathon in 10th place that year. The challenge raises funds for the Unogwaja Light Fund, which generates ­financial support for community-based organisations in South Africa that are ­focused on education and skills development.

The Unogwaja Light Fund currently supports Umsilinga Primary School in Pietermartizburg, Vukusebenze Shelter in Cradock and Lebone Village in Bloemfontein. To date this year Unogwaja has raised R1 107 770.

The cyclists, Unogwajas, this year included riders from the U.S., Brazil, England, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

The 12 men and women of Unogwaja were welcomed at an emotional ceremony at the Natal Carbineers on Saturday.

The cyclists met their families and school pupils who were waiting for them.

The procession then embarked on a kilometre walk to the City Hall where Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela officially welcomed the team.

Ndlela commended the efforts of the team.

“We are thankful that you chose one of our schools as a beneficiary of this initiative. The only way to have a better future is through school. You all started the race together and you finished it together,” said Ndlela.

Unogwaja captain Nathaniel Mabetwa encouraged the over 1 000 thousand pupils of Umsilinga Primary and Berg Street Primary who came to welcome them not to allow anyone to stop them from studying.

“Never forget these words. We see doctors and the leaders of tomorrow in you. Along the journey we came across young people of your age walking to school very early in the morning. Never allow anyone to rob you of your education,” said Mabetwa.

Mabetwa said their journey was “very exciting and educational”.

“It was about spreading the message of hope, love, courage and taking responsibility,” he said..

“We as adults should take responsibility to remove anything that will be an impediment to our children’s future.

“We should ensure today’s problems are not going to hinder their future. Our problems should not be inherited by our children,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  cycling

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