Confessions of a Ugandan biker group and how they are teaching about cancer on 2 wheels
Uganda Bikers Association is one of the most popular bikers group in Africa and have a number of worthy campaigns they are running across the region.
The annual car show event is organized by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club and is open to all makes of cars and motorcycles.
77 cars and 41 motorcycles lined up to be judged for their preparation, their cleanliness and, especially, their elegance.
Among the participants who graced this year's event was Uganda Bikers Association, one of the biggest and most popular biker group in Africa.
Business Insider SSA bumped into Steven Mukisa, a rider from Uganda who is also a member of the popular Uganda Bikers Association group and had a chat about the biking culture in Africa.
What do you love most about riding a bike?
Steve: Freedom! Anybody who has a bike knows it and it is not that we don’t have cars we do, some of us have more than one car parked in our compounds but we still choose a bike mainly because a bike represents freedom. I always feel sorry for people who have cars and then have to sit in a traffic jam for hours, I always wonder why did you actually have to buy that car that is now making you suffer (laughs) I believe we all have gadgets because they make our life easier, you have a phone because it makes your life easier likewise we get our bikes because
So when you are not on top of a bike what do you do?
Steve: I am a dermatologist
How old were you when you started riding bikes?
Steve: I am about 15years old when I started riding bikes and my first bike was a 250cc bike.
So how long have you been riding bikes?
Steve: I have been riding bikes more than 20 years.
What is your current bike?
Steve: I have had a number of different bikes as you keep growing you know the money grows new bikes change and they keep getting better and better and as you grow you also grow in experience and become more sure-footed on the road so it gets better and better with time.
so this year I have an FJR 1300.
Many riders normally christened their bikes with all sort of names, have you christened your FJR1300 with any name?
Steve: You know we do have attachments with our bikes and so each of us has a special name they give to their bike and most of the time our bikes we name after ladies names for instance it would be a Japanese girl, an American or a German girl depending on where it came from so mine is called holy ghost.
Tell us more about Uganda Bikers Association?
Steve: We have about 50 members but we only managed to come with 20 members for this year’s Concours d’Elegance. We have different types of people in our group who are professionals and do other things, we have ambassadors, accountants architects, and many others.
If one wants to join our club first there is a membership fee of about $100 and because most of the times we do undertake long routes like for example we had to ride all the way along East Africa so the entry bike is 400cc upwards.
So how did Uganda Bikers association came about?
Steve: We are people who got together because we love bikes and we wanted to do something because of our love for the bikes mainly because wherever we stop people are attracted to our bikes you know so when they gather by our bikes we get a chance to talk about road safety we get a chance to talk about HIV/AIDS and we also get a chance to talk about Cancer.
We have run this campaign throughout our country we have been to different parts of Uganda, apart from that we have also run it through the East African route so we have been through Rwanda then Dar es Salaam then down Mombasa and then back to Nairobi where we are doing the Concours d’Elegance.
Uganda bikers association is one of the most popular bikers group in Africa and you have a number of worthy campaigns you are running, how do you fund your campaigns and so far has any corporates companies come on board?
Steve: From the membership fee, we collect part of it is used to support and fund our different activities and campaigns as well as reach out to other people to push our campaigns.
Of course we do welcome corporate sponsorships and currently we do work with companies like Citi tires, if a company comes and say well we see what you are doing we like what you are doing and we want to be part of it so we let them be part of it and together we spread road safety, cancer awareness and HIV/AIDS gospel.
There is a strong perception out there that riding a bike is very dangerous, how do you guys counter this narrative?
Steve: Yeah exactly that is the reason why we go around teaching and spreading the cause for road safety, you know when we are riding we have to make it easy for motorists, you have to know what a motorist is thinking so that you can be safe on the road. You have to make sure you are visible to motorists because at some point you are the smallest on the road, smallest and fastest and that can be dangerous. basically there are dangers in everything if I ask a pilot is it dangerous to fly a plane he would say well it is dangerous to fly a plane but you would still fly a plane so it is dangerous to ride a bike but you still ride a bike but you have to take all the precautions to make sure you minimize any chance of accident happening and that is what we do and preach. You have to wear a reflector so that you are visible, your lights have to be on when you are on the road, you have to wear protective gear you know to protect your elbows your knees wear gloves to protect your finger and you have to expect anything to happen on the road so be ready for whatever.
Bike is one of the sexiest toys Ladies can’t get enough off it, so how do you handle all the attention?
Steve: This is a new bike, it a 2016 bike so wherever you go it always attracts attention and some would say ooh can I take pictures, is it okay to see it and take pictures and I am like yes yes then another lady comes in at the mall and say ooh can my kid take a picture on top of it you know the kid love bikes so basically you get used to it and you also make lots of friends with the bike, they approach and say that is a nice looking bike and you end up with a lot of friends.
Bike culture is still a fairly new sport in Africa compared to the west where it is really big and apart from that there is also the ‘bad boy’ image crisis associated with the sport?
Steve: Generally there is perception about bikers out there which has already been set by people in the west and movies that bikers are bad ass men you know, but we want to change that perception that we are not always gun welding but just like ordinary people, we can actually do something good and be agents of change in the society. We don’t want to carry fear we don’t want to carry terror we want to carry good message of change across Africa.
Where do you see Uganda Bikers Association say in the next 5 year?
Steve: I see this growing into a much bigger charity organization which can always be looked at as a vehicle to carry a message mainly because wherever we are people gather and when people gather you are able to talk to them, you are able to pass on a message.
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