As I write this, we’re already sitting close to Day 14 of our Southern African road trip. My ability to recall all of the experiences and put them in chronological order is starting to diminish. I know my close friends will poke fun at me and claim old age. The culprit, in my opinion, are the long distances and very tight schedules that we’ve been maintaining for the last 10 Days.
I think the team’s maturing as the days tick by. It’s been amazing to watch the riders interact with the locals as we stop for fuel in the smaller towns and villages. It’s usually bigger Harley’s, the touring models, that first draw people in. Within minutes we have crowds of people gathering around. I watch my tired brothers patiently answer all of the questions with a laugh and a gesture of friendship.
Phones click away with their small cameras, for these folks, people who face many hardships, which in most cases I would never be able to fathom or survive. For them this roaring petrol stop, and the message we bring to fight gender based violence, would be something they will be talking about for a long time to come.
A young man, with a huge smile on his face, walked up to me at our stop in Chiapate and said, “Me, I have never seen a Harley Davidson, only in magazines. Now I can say, I have seen it with my naked eye.” Later, a group of shy youngsters, not saying a single word, gathered around and we gave them some of our stickers. Only turning my back for seconds I noticed that one of the youngsters stuck the sticker we gave him on his forehead. There between his friends, this little guy, with our sticker on his forehead.
That silly gesture moved me a little as I know that it was probably something that I would have done at his age. It’s then that I realized that these weren’t anonymous faces that we just passed on our 15 day journey, but individuals and people with their own dreams and aspirations.
I have forced myself to crawl out of my introverted shell as well, and being able to engage with people has been the most rewarding aspect of the trip thus far. I got to know Africa and its people a little better and with all its faults I believe we live on a wonderful continent and our greatest strength are the wonderful and friendly people who inhabit it.
I can only pray that this will eradicate the darker aspects of African society, such as gender based violence in the future as this UN Women initiative gains traction within these communities.