East Africa: Women Bikers Take Their Safety Message On the Road

Six women, the Throttle Queens, are traveling across East Africa on motorbikes to raise awareness of road safety issues in the region.

The six Kenyans have spent the past week on an epic journey across East Africa that started in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Good Friday. The bikers have passed through Kampala and Kigali, spreading the word about the need to use the roads safely.

"The reason we are riding is because there is a lot of road carnage and death on our roads. So our mission is to get people to share the roads and to use the roads responsibly," Throttle Queens member, Njeri Mwangi explained during a stop-off in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Thousands of people die on the roads in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda every year. Drink-driving, ignoring traffic rules and pot-holed roads are the main causes of death according to the Global Road Safety Partnership's Crash Data.

The Throttle Queens idea was born out of the fact that motorcycle riders run a high risk of death, especially in Africa. "We met a lot during funerals burying our friends that died in road accidents. And so we decided that we wanted to meet, when we are living and having fun," Mwangi told RFI.

They women meet up for rides around six times a year. The current road trip is their longest yet, and the most challenging. "Kampala was the most difficult part of the journey because of the traffic. Luckily we were helped by members of the Kampala Motorcycle Club who escorted us into the city," Njeri explained.

The bikers are also being helped along the way by a dedicated back-up team that includes some of the women's husbands, and three 4x4 vehicles. Everywhere the women go people stop and stare, "this means we have people's attention straight away and can convey our message to a captive audience," Njeri said.

The Throttle Queens are due to return to Nairobi to a hero's welcome on Monday 29 April. Their journey is being keenly followed on social media and by local broadcasters.

After this 2,000-kilometer jaunt, the women have a voyage to South Africa in 2020 in their sights.

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