Twenty five cyclists will this weekend bring their 6,000km journey all over East Africa to an end in Nairobi, Kenya.
They were initially 43 cyclists – from the seven neighbouring countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and South Sudan – on this fifth edition of the annual Great Africa Safari (GACS) that started in Mombasa on August 1.
But family issues, work, gruelling, the physical demands of climbing hills in Burundi and Rwanda, the need to pedalling consistently in the flat landscapes in Tanzania, and negotiating different kinds of weather and terrains in Kenya and Uganda took their toll on some of the riders forcing them to drop.
Equity Bank Uganda saw the need to support this initiative that is tailormade to promote East African tourism, cultures, climate, and integration and jumped on board from the time they entered Uganda on September 7 till they exited on Wednesday with more fanfare when they stayed in Kampala between September 16-19.
The cyclists have been to different villages all over the region planting trees, spreading their gospel, and interacting with locals.
“Hopefully, next year, we will be able to give more funds,” Equity Bank’s executive director Liz Kasedde, said during a flag-off ceremony on a rainy Monday morning organized to see off the cyclists at Kololo Independence Grounds – from where they headed to Jinja and then to the Busia border from where they enter Kenya.
The first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East Africa Affairs Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga donated Shs1.5m to the contingent to complete their race and praised female cyclists Saidat Mutimukeye and Uganda’s Shamal Nakabuye for their resilience.
“It has been a challenging journey so far but we are soldering on,” 25-year-old Nakabuye, a member of Fun Cycling Uganda and a peer educator in her day-to-day life, said.
Also present in Kololo was the Special Presidential Advisor on Kampala Affairs Sarah Kanyike, who also doubles, as one of the organizers of GACS.