Drink-driving, ignoring traffic rules and poor roads claim thousands of lives in the region, every year.
It is for this reason that six female riders dubbed the Throttle Queens, from Kenya took to the road to spread the word about road safety. For a week, they travelled from Kenya to Kigali for days meeting different groups of people and exploring the city.
Njeri Mwanji, one of the six riders, shares that in 2016, the group lost a friend who was a biker, and have since lost many others to road accidents, which eventually motivated them to carry out the campaign.
“Road safety is important to us because in Africa we have roads that are not well planned for all road users, so we all have to use the same roads and no one has more right than the other. If the law was enforced on traffic rules and people observed them, then hopefully we’ll see less accidents on roads,” she said.
Upon their arrival in Kigali on Monday, they met a group of Rwandans at the Gahanga Cricket Oval, as part of their campaign, as well as other Rwandan bikers, and talked about road safety, while also sharing their experiences riding and why it connects them.
“It was overwhelming just to see the people that came up, the stadium was beautiful. We didn’t get a chance to meet the cricket ladies and hopefully we can meet them because they are an inspiration and we hope we can inspire them back,” Mwanji said.
Determined to ride to accomplish their mission of advocacy and adventure the ladies drove from Kigali to the Burundian border, visited Gisenyi, and Kigali, including the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where they paid respect to the victims of the Genocide. For days they overlooked their obstacles of rain, twisty roads and riding on the right hand of the road, different from Kenya.
The Throttle Queens, Aisha Mohammed, Njeri Mwanji, Rhoda Omenya, Shiku Njenga, Mary Wanjiku, and Victoria Musyoka, have been riding bikes for years, and were brought together by their passion for the sport.
“We all love to ride for fun, for adventure, but most importantly we had a vision of empowering young women especially, to take up the sport of riding, because of the benefits we have enjoyed being bikers. It is not just about riding however, the message we are sending is, whatever dream anybody has can achieve and whatever you put mind to do you can achieve.
The message we are sending to people out there is to stretch their limit and think differently. This is our way of giving to the community through our passion,” said Njenga.
Last year the group rode to Moshi to outride for Miss Kilimanjaro pageant and they have been to every corner of Kenya, riding for fun, advocacy and making money by outriding for events.
“Road safety is one of our main causes and it’s not a short campaign because a lot needs by all road users but also our governments need to do even more to make the roads more usable and friendly to every user, as they improve them. This is something that we will continue to champion about now that we have a willing audience because this ride has gotten us an audience as people are looking and asking questions. So I hope that we will continue with this conversation,” said Wanjiku.
On May 4, the International Female Ride Day and together with other female bikers in Nairobi, they intend to ride to a children’s home to spend time with them.
Aisha Mohammed revealed that the growing community of female bikers in Kenya, has helped overcome stereotypes surrounding female riders.
“There are different stereotypes about women on bikes but in Nairobi, there are 100 female bikers riding for sport, commuting and many other reasons so it’s no longer bizarre to see a woman on a bike which has earned us respect, which is really refreshing because we are bringing honor back where it may have been lost,” she said.
The group looks forward to returning to Rwanda soon and urges bikers in Rwanda to uplift more Rwandan women to adopt the sport.