BORDERS AND BEYOND: A MOTORCYCLE JOURNEY THROUGH AFRICA
Pt. II: From Cape Agulhas to Nairobi
We left off our Pan-African motorcycle crew (click here for Part I) in Harare where they were halted at customs to fill towering piles of immigration forms.
This gave me them enough time for some impromptu elephant and baboon sightings at the border, and once they were able to clear their bikes at customs, they moved on... to the tip of Africa.
In partnership with the Pan-African Citizens’ Network (PACIN) and Kenyan journalist Oyunga Pala, the ACP-EU Migration Action is working to ignite discussion among Kenyans about the advantages of visa-free movement in the 19 African nations of the COMESA region and beyond. Capturing stories of Africans travelling their continent provides a powerful glimpse of the challenges that borders present and opportunities that visa-free travel can create for both cultural and economic exchanges. This story offers a glimpse into pastor Nick Korir's 23,000km motorcycle adventure. We hope it will spark debate about how Africans move within and beyond their borders.
We rode 80km to the border and began the process of immigration and customs to get into South Africa. The process was clear but long... And then a true miracle occurred as we did not have one of the required letters of authority but it was not asked for!
All our bikes got cleared by noon and we began the ride through Polokwane to Johannesburg. The moment the crew entered South Africa we knew immediately that we were in a different country, the roads just change. Sidewalks, large highways, motorist are courteous, then the signage… Totally enjoyable cruising down the highway.
Christmas break with family and back on the road to Cape of Agulhas
At the end of the Christmas break we rode 500km towards Durban. We took the scenic farming route and enjoyed the picturesque landscapes of Kwazulu Natal. We arrived in Pietermaritzburg before dark and decided to spend the night there before setting off through Durban to Port Elizabeth. We got to visit Nelson Mandela’s Home, burial place and museum. It was very significant for us. On 31st December we rode from Port Elizabeth to Bredasdorp all the way down to Cape Agulhas. It was epic seeing the southernmost tip of Africa and figuratively reaching our destination.
The ride through the Namib Desert was a spectacle. Authentic, raw, indigenous and untamed. We rode on the straightest roads we have ever been on, and horizon after horizon all we saw was straight highways.
We rode towards the Namibia-Botswana Border crossed to Botswana at Mohembo Border post and we finally spent the night at Gumare after a brief stop at the Okavango River. We rode through the Okavango Delta and got to see the tributaries and the rich and green ecosystem that surrounds the delta.
Back to Zambia
We rode from Nata to the North-West border of Botswana and Zambia at the Kazungula border crossing. We did about 500 km through the national park and almost hitting elephants, ostriches and other fauna crossing the roads. Elephants were roaming around freely. This was the first border that we have had to cross over a ferry. The ferry crosses the great Zambezi River between Botswana and Zambia. On Day 33, we geared up for the final leg back to East Africa.
We got to the Kenyan border at noon and enjoyed a very warm welcome from the customs and immigration officials.
It was great to be back home.
We then rode through Kisii and Narok and finally got back to Nairobi.
Did you have any issues with visas?
I did not have any visa issues because we decided to go through Commonwealth countries. COMESA and the EAC have in place treaties that make it easy for Kenyans to travel through these countries. As far as visas go, Namibia and South Africa had the most stringent requirements.
Talk about the people and sights?
East Africa feels like one country. Things are very familiar. The impact of western culture is felt greater in Southern Africa.
What about the language barrier?
In Tanzania, we have to speak in upgraded Kiswahili. We did not go to Mozambique or Angola because they do not speak English. They speak Portuguese and the visas would not have been as easy. But we could use English throughout apart from Burundi, where people speak Urundi and French. In Rwanda, we were surprised to find a large contingent of Kiswahili speakers. In Malawi, people spoke the Queen’s English.
What important aspects did the Jubilee ride reveal about yourself?
The Jubilee Ride showed me the extent I can go to achieve a goal because I was willing to do everything within my ability and resources to make this dream of riding to the Cape and back, a reality.
This is an excerpt edited by Noni Munge, Jorge Galindo and the ACP-EU Migration Action team from an article by Kenyan satirist and humorist Oyunga Pala. Click here to read the full story.