Where does your mind go when you hear the sound of a group of bikers? Are you thinking about their speed? Disgusted about how they don’t seem to care about your ‘slow’ moving car? Fear because you’re worried about their safety? Or jealousy because you wish you could be them?
For me, it’s the camaraderie. There’s the community feeling around bikers as they always seem to move in groups, like a pack of roaring wolves. However, there’s still a perception about bikers worldwide. They’re looked at as reckless, rebellious, spoiled and dangerous.
We can trace this back to the Hollister riots of 1947 where over 4000 bikers attended the American Motorcyclist Association’s Gypsy Tour motorcycle rally in a small town in California. Popular culture as well has played a part in painting the public’s idea of what bikers are about. As with everything else, Bikers will tell you that 99% of their community is peaceful and safe and there’s only a problematic 1%.
Let’s bring this back home now..
When the son of the President, Yusuf Buhari was involved in a ghastly accident while on his bike in 2017, the media was flooded with condemnations about power bikes and the general biking community. It was so much that members of the Nigerian Biking Community had to come out to defend themselves.
“Just as there are reckless riders, we also have reckless motorists, but more often than not, motorbike accidents are met with less sympathy than car accidents, with a larger percentage of the blame being heaped on the rider, even before a proper analysis or a valid eyewitness account is provided”. This is from an article discussing the call for stricter regulations regarding super bikes by Syreeta Akinyede.
You can check out the full article here
The writer is trying to make a point here. Nigerians already look at bikers and the biking community in a certain light, whenever there’s an accident the blame is immediately put on the person on the bike. However, there’s a lot more than meets the eye with Bikers in Nigeria.
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In Abuja, one of the biggest motorcycling associations in West Africa, the 09 Bikers are more than thrill seeking bikers. The group has over 200 members from around the country with rules, regulations and programmes all guided by the union.
The club was formed in 2006 and according to a member, the monthly training sessions have ensured there hasn’t been any casualty recorded so far among the club’s members. “We have a road captain whose duty is to make sure all bikes are road worthy and were used in a previous training. We bring in experienced riders to conduct trainings and also use different electronic gadgets, which make it difficult to go astray.”
In Lagos, there’s the Female Bikers Initiative (FBi). This group was set up by female riders who came together to bring awareness to issues Nigerian women face. One of the FBi board members, Jeminat Olumegbon explained “A bunch of us, bike riders, came together because we knew when we ride we draw attention to ourselves so we used that as a form of communication starter, especially in rural areas”.
Since the group’s formation, they’ve set up breast and cervical cancer screening events across the country. Back in 2015, Olumegbon rode 20,000 km through eight countries in 30 days to raise funds for children in orphanages.
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Here’s another, Ogbonnaya Kanu set up the Ride Easy Superbike Training School, located in Ikeja. The school aims to keep fellow riders safe on the roads and groom new riders.
Along with Segun Obanaya, Kanu also co-founded the Fotodadi Foundation in 2015. The foundation was set up in memory of Tonye Claude-Wilcox and Wemba Otike-Odibi, two riders who passed away. The foundation awards scholarships to disadvantaged fatherless and orphaned children from primary school through to university level. With a majority of the foundation’s donors being Bikers.
And then there’s Ryker’s Ride. A biker fundraising and awareness ride that was started by Mr. Paul Lawson. Ryker’s Ride unites bikers all over Africa to support and highlight the work of children’s charities. In an interview, Lawson explained “A lot of people did not know they could make a difference or that such homes existed, and several others have been challenged, because we came so many miles to help children in their towns. We have reports from some of the homes we visited that bikers and other people have been coming to support them and donate stuff since we visited.”
Riding super fast can be scary or fun, depending on how you look at it bikers aren’t all dangerous. Some might ride for fun and the adrenaline rush, however, others have found worthier causes to support and found a way to give back to the communities around them.