Riding For Hope

Riding has always been synonymous with freedom – especially when one rides for fun as opposed to professional competitions. In South Africa, there is – arguably – no name that is more synonymous with freedom as that of struggle icon Nelson Mandela. For that reason, it therefore seems apt to honour Nelson Mandela’s Centenary Celebration with a bicycle ride.

The Nelson Mandela Legacy RIDE4HOPE is one of many events mandated by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to mark the centenary commemoration of South Africa’s first democratically elected president. The Nelson Mandela Legacy RIDE4HOPE will create a platform to carry Mandela’s message of hope as it cuts across two provinces; from Vilakazi Street in Soweto (Gauteng) to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick (KwaZulu-Natal).

When Nelson Mandela died in 2013, he had championed numerous charitable initiatives since his release from Robben Island in 1990. He raised funds for schemes dealing with Aids, education, children and rural development. These initiatives have ensured that the Mandela legacy lives on. Today, most of these philanthropic initiatives are channeled through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Anyone who has read the icon’s biography Long Walk to Freedom would agree that it is a moving and exhilarating story of a heroic life, characterized by hardships, resilience and eventually victory. While on a different scale, the ride promises a myriad of vicissitudes – including physically grueling hills and thrilling descents. However, both the starting and finishing points are places of great historical significance in South African history.

The Mandela family’s four-roomed home on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets is now a museum that houses artworks, memorabilia as well as family photographs and is also open to the public. The Mandela home is one of the main tourist attractions on Vilakazi Street.

During the four-day ride, cyclists will make scheduled overnight stops in Standerton, Newcastle and Ladysmith before reaching the final destination in Howick. At these bivouacs, both riders and the crew will engage in community upliftment activities as means of giving back to the society.

Mandela was a strong proponent on acts of generosity and once said: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

The sculpture of the Nelson Mandela at the Capture Site in the Midlands is one of the most visually creative monuments in the country. Some commentators argue that the site is where Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom began, but that’s discussion for another time. What we do know is that he had been travelling – disguised as a chauffeur – when he was nabbed by apartheid era police on the site in 1962.

is arrest marked one of the most significant moments in the history of the apartheid South Africa, as well as the future of this country. The monument at the site was created by Marco Cianfanelli and is celebration of “the multi-faceted influences and the nature of a single human being that had an enormous effect on the identity of a nation”.