Cape Town – More than 500 bikers gathered at N1 City on the last Sunday in January for the third annual Ubuntu Run. It was one of more than a dozen such runs held on the same day all around South Africa, a celebration of the biker spirit that transcends not only politics but every distinction that divides and classifies South Africans.
They came on an astonishing variety of machinery, from the Kasi-Riders of Khayelitsha on their big gleaming road-burners to kids from Durbanville on mopeds and scooters, rubbing shoulders and clasping hands with laid-back cruiser riders and big-booted off-roaders. To paraphrase another type of happy gathering, some of their bikes were old, some were new, a few were borrowed and many were blue.
But that made no difference: each had two wheels, a big heart inside a biker jacket and a bigger smile inside a crash helmet.
Promptly at 9am, after a blessing from Pastor George Lehman of the Bikers Church in Brackenfell, the mass ride took off, escorted by Traffic Services, down the N1 and M5 for a tour of the city that ended at Killarney International Raceway with live music, food, drinks and biker bling on sale, for a party of note.
Bikers are of necessity colour-blind; once a rider is kitted up you can’t tell their ethnicity, gender or belief system. He or she is just another member of a closely knit community that’s as well known for charity initiatives such as the Toy Run, the CMA Blanket Run and a host of similar projects, as for loud exhaust pipes and wheelies.
In that way motorcyclists are a microcosm of South African society. Whatever they ride and wherever they come from, bikers are united by their passion for the freedom that comes on two wheels and an engine, to go where you want to go and be who you want to be, and by the respect and honour they show to all the members of their community.
The Ubuntu Run, however, is not about a day of camaraderie in the sun with fellow bikers; it’s about bringing that spirit to everything we do on the other 364 days of the year. As Pastor George - as he is affectionately known - put it, the Ubuntu Run is not an end but a beginning, and when we gather at the same place, a year from now, for the 2019 Ubuntu Run, we should be asking ourselves: How well have we done since the last time?