King of the Mountain: From Genocide to a Cycling Team in Rwanda
This is a wonderful little story. Inspirational. Uplifting. Enlightening. Makes you wonder at the dark depths of humanity, but also the hope, faith, and potential contained therein.
Cycling for Samuel is a way out of poverty for him and his family, but it is also a representation of how his country can, and is, healing from its terrible scars by working together for a common goal. Coming together in the name of humanity for the common good. To see to it that no one, no matter what tribe you belong to, is subject to abuse, injustice, or death.
That’s what cycling means to Samuel.
It’s what cycling should mean to everyone.
We talk altogether too much about the negatives that are mixed-up with cycling – the “war against motorists”, the “war against cycling”, the battle for or against infrastructure, drugs in racing, scoff-laws, poseurs, mamils (I detest the term), hipsters, lycra, entitlement, the fearsome danger to pedestrians… you get the idea.
Remember when you started cycling? When you first picked up a bike? When you first turned the pedals, without training wheels? When you rediscovered it as an adult? When you realized that you could get to work faster, happier, less stressed, with more money in your pocket and with a healthier body and mind? When you use it to connect with mates and overcome personal barriers?
That the barriers to cycling are nearly as low as simply using your own two feet? That anyone can do it, regardless of age, gender, class, or economic status? That it helps the environment, the economy, the sense of community, and congestion?
Yeah. That’s what cycling is. Or that’s what it should be about, anyway.
I know that the media has a thirst for bad news, a hunger for fear, and a taste for moral posturing, and that it’s all because that’s what sells. A good story is nice and all, but it doesn’t hold our attention for very long.
I started this website because I wanted to help cycling help make our communities a better place, and sometimes I get tired about hearing everyone get all upset about this and that – that this sucks, and that person is to blame, that nothing is ever good enough, and that we demand better!
Yes. Obviously, these are real concerns and we do need to strive for the top. The best. The ideal. However, what Samuel and King of the Mountain reminds us is that it’s all, in the end, really quite simple.
We’re just people, every single one of us. Sometimes we forget that if you are Hutu or Tutsi, or a cyclist or motorist, we are all just people. “We work as a team and we work as brothers”. I think we miss that way of thinking too often when we talk about cycling in the wider context of society.
“If we can come together as a team, we can come together as a country.”
I know someone’s going to give me a hard time about this, but if Rwanda can start to come together with genocide still playing on the inside of some people’s eyelids, then surely cyclists and motorists and pedestrians and politicians and citizens can learn to come together as people to make the most of our infrastructure.
Header image: source