BORDERS AND BEYOND: A MOTORCYCLE JOURNEY THROUGH AFRICA

Part I: From Kenya to Zimbabwe

Visa requirements make it notoriously difficult for Africans to travel within their region. Aliko Dangote, one of Africa’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, famously stated that he needs 38 visas to move around the continent while his American staff breeze through border checkpoints. This is the reality for many Africans from all walks of life, and it seems both unfair and unnecessary.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of visa-free movement for Africans is taking the continent by storm.

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 traveling 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 from Nairobi to Africa’s ‘southernmost’ tip. We hope it will spark debate about how Africans move within and beyond their borders.

A show of solidarity – Tanzanians wave the Kenyan flag.

Pastor Nick has stories for days, so journalist Oyunga Pala asked him to share his travel journal from the Jubilee Ride South, 2013–2014. The journey aimed to raise 15 Million Kenyan Shillings to help set up an endowment fund under the Jubilee Scholarship Fund. The plan was to ride through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, into Kenya then onto Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and back to Kenya.

And off they went...

Tanzania

Tanzania would prove a challenge for the speedstars. Fellow rider Moses was busted twice for speeding, or you could say riding at 54 km/h in a 50km/h zone. He continued with his speeding ways and on the day we left Iringa, he decided to throttle to 180 on a 30km zone.

Two cops ran to the side of the road hoping to stop him, but by the time they raised their hands, he had blasted through at the speed of sound.

The rest of bikers trailing him, obeying the law, were flagged down and given a tongue lashing as collateral offenders.

The Beautiful Lake Malawi

Riding along Lake Malawi was totally gorgeous! We stopped at fishing villages and played with monkeys, walked on a 110-year-old bamboo bridge that was constructed in 1904, had an encounter in a traditional shrine with the traditional gods of the Malawi, and enjoyed the best twists ever as we weaved through the mountains to Mzuzu on our way to Nkatha Bay.

Pit stop on an ancient bamboo bridge

Pit stop on an ancient bamboo bridge

Next was Zambia...

Victoria Falls

We arrived in Lusaka under a heavy rain. By the grace of God we bumped into the Kenya High Commission vehicle and were taken to the Kenya High Commission in Lusaka for a courtesy call and a connection with the Kenyan community in Zambia. That evening we had a taste of Kenyan tea and later on settled in Lusaka for the night at Mr. Kariuki’s (a Kenyan) Kalahari Guesthouse.

Riders on the storm in Lusaka

Riders on the storm in Lusaka

The Kenyan riders sample a Zambian delicacy – dried mopane caterpillars

The Kenyan riders sample a Zambian delicacy – dried mopane caterpillars

Crunchy delicacy

Then we rode into Zimbabwe

The walls of the medieval city of Great Zimbabwe

It was a short ride from Lusaka to the border in Chirundu to Zimbabwe. This was our first one-stop border stop that had immigration and customs of two countries all in the same building — excellent idea! However, this was our worst border crossing because the clearance process was longer than the rest. We spent three hours trying to clear the seven bikes and two cars! The immigration demanded letters we did not have, and demanded that we pay road toll that we had not paid in our port of entry in Chipata.

Need for speed... and breathtaking scenery

Need for speed... and breathtaking scenery

It delayed our arrival in Harare but at least we saw elephants and baboons at the immigration border!

This is an excerpt edited by Noni Munge and the ACP-EU Migration Action team from an article by Kenyan satirist and humorist Oyunga Pala. Click here to read the full story.

Next week, Pastor Nick and friends ride through the Namib Desert, visit Nelson Mandela's home and encounter yet more immigration hurdles... All while skirting elephants and ostriches on the road.