On the old Battlefield Route in memory of Mandela's staunch beliefs and resilience

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2020 Pride of Africa Ride (POAR)
2020 Pride of Africa Ride (POAR)
Vuyi Mpofu

• Vuyi Mpofu and Bongiwe Didiza continue their journey on two motorbikes.

• On their latest leg, they visit the Nelson Mandela Capture site in KZN.

The duo rode via the old Battlefields Route in the area.

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As Covid-19 infections increased over the 2020 festive season and President Cyril Ramaphosa began talks of stiffer measures to curb its spread, it became apparent that we would be unable to implement a large portion of the plans we had for the Pride of Africa Ride (POAR). Our return trip would have seen us travelling via Battlefields Route, where eight significant wars were fought between Zulu warriors (the greatest army in Africa at the time) and British soldiers.  

Accompanied by local Zulu guides, we learned of our gallant forefathers' momentous accomplishments, namely, Kings Shaka, Cetshwayo and Dingaan - in their spirited efforts to defend the land from the invasion of the Queen's army. While essential, it is a pity that this portion of South African history is not widely documented or taught in schools today. 

Contrary to what is and has been most commonly narrated in local and global media, the Black South African story has gotten lost in the account of slavery and colonialism. We have not adequately told the proud, rich, colourful and inspirational side of who we are as a people and through this visit, I had hoped to educate myself better and share what I had learnt.

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2020 Pride of Africa Ride (POAR) at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Kwazulu-Natal

Managing the terrain

The ride to and around Isandlwana and Rourke's Drift mainly consisted of gravel once we had ventured off the main tarred road. Both the 1250 GS and 900 XR easily managed the terrain as both bikes are fitted with Dynamic Traction Control as standard, among other features designed to ensure a high riding safety level. Of course, Bongiwe Didiza, on her 1250 GS would have been happier and more at home on the dirt than I might have been on my 900 XR, only because the GS is a thorough-bred adventure bike while the 900 XR is an adventure sports bike. 

I had mischievously looked forward to the day Bongiwe and I rode into the deeply traditional community in anticipation of the community's shock factor seeing two black women on motorbikes. But I had a strong sense they'd warm up to us throughout our stay once they realised that we were not 'rebellious women from the city'. Thankfully, they saw that we were 'well brought up African women' that have not lost their traditional African upbringing; despite us riding motorcycles.

READ: Female riders challenge the status quo despite 'varying degrees of disapproval'

We also managed to visit the Nelson Mandela Capture site, which is a landmark of magnificent proportions. Unable to go into the museum and to the actual statue itself, we were content to take pictures at the entrance. Preparing to leave and push back towards eGoli, a heavy silence fell upon both Bongiwe and I.

We realised that where we are today - both professionally and personally - is because of this man's staunch beliefs and resilience. Words could not adequately describe what we felt, but we knew that riding here on motorbikes is about a justifiable 'thank you' as any. We've broken barriers, and we will continue to do so again.

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2020 Pride of Africa Ride (POAR)
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