Well here we are in Zanzibar, half way through the kigali2joburg ride. There is actually another 800 km until we are half way through in distance, but this is the point we set ourselves so that we could have two days of much needed rest.
I am sitting in a thatch covered shack right by the sea, in the very vibacious Air BnB we are staying at in the Northern part of the island. No bike to get up and pack, no mechanical problems to sort out, just a day of sun, sea and sand. Bliss.
And it’s also allowing me time to reflect on the meaning of a journey like this.
It’s an amazing thing to have the opportunity to see Africa from the outside. That’s kind of what it feels like on the bike, that you are in the elements, not watching from the inside of an air conditioned cocoon. Actually present and experiencing everything in the raw.
You ride into endless oceans of views, punctuated by mountains and valleys, open plains and tropical rain forests, until you reach an actual ocean, sunset glistening on the waves lapping against the beach. It is a thing of beauty. And the people you ride with as well as the people you meet, make it an even more luminous experience.
It’s an interesting place that we have traveled to, not just in terms of the geographical destination, but also in terms of a spiritual and emotional waypoint. As a group we have bonded in a way that you never could just by meeting for dinner or having a coffee. We have helped each other when a bike has had mechanical issues. watched each other’s backs as we have worked our way though crazy traffic, made on the spot calls as the route hasn’t worked out as we thought. My friends picked my bike up three times when I had a bad day and my off road skills decided to have their own vacation. We have been a team.
We’ve also learned a little about the people who inhabit these lands we have ridden through, people who know so much more than we do in so many ways and who we are trying to learn from as we go. Every conversation proves that we are all the same at the core, all with our own stories and experiences that make us unique and special. It doesn’t matter if you are a Kenyan, a Ugandan, a Rwandan, a Tanzanian or a Canadian. All of us belong.
We use a phrase in our work to describe this sense of belonging. “There is no other, there is just us”. All of us together, no matter what the colour of our skin, our race, or religion. We are all beautiful human beings, and I choose to believe that we are all made in the image of God, all loved by Him equally, whatever we choose to believe. That we are all worthy of respect and dignity, all valued equally. It doesn’t matter whether you are a materially wealthy Canadian biking through, or one of the children we see playing in the dust, waving wildly at us. All of us count. All of us are equal. All of us belong.
It’s one of the reasons I believe so passionately in our work at Wellspring, as we partner with our Rwandan friends to see justice and opportunity given to the children of Rwanda through the provision of a quality values based education. An education that not only teaches great math or English or science, but also allows whole communities to experience transformation as we work together to create a better world. Everyone should get the opportunities we have in the Global North. It should never be limited to the privileged few, and a trip like this makes me even more determined to do all we can to open the doors to every child, so that they can have a chance to see their lives changed as well.
Today also marks our last day together as a full group, with Lisa, Faith, Danielle and Kaitlyn staying on for a few days in Zanzibar. Even as we enjoy this last day by walking across to an island in the distance at low tide, we are not looking forward to parting. Well those four lucky people are looking forward to a little beach time as we load up bikes and ride, but it’s hard to think of the group splitting. I won’t be able to look in my rear view mirror and see Lisa with a bring it on grin on her face as we tackle another off road stretch. Or see Kaitlyn behind me, having my back as she rides so brilliantly and making me wish I was half as skilled as her. I won’t be able to hear Faiths laughter and infectious joy making us all dissolve into fits of giggles, so happy and glad to be here. And I won’t be able to enjoy Danielles rich observations about life, people and culture, insights that have provoked deep questions and conversations about why we are the way we are and how we can become better humans.
The other six of us will carry on, into Southern Tanzania then onto Malawi, knowing that parting is such sweet sorrow, but that we carry a part of each other with us, as well as the people we have met along the way. It will be hard to ride away from our companions, but part two of the kigali2joburg ride beckons and there is more adventure to come.
May the road rise to meet you.
(To sponsor the Kigali2Joburg ride and help Wellspring give children in Rwanda a quality values based education that treats them with dignity, respect and will change their lives forever, please click here.) Photo cred Wes Robinson