On April 9th, we set out on a cycling expedition that we thought could take anything between 7 and 10 months. We expected to cover more than 10,000 km and travel through as many as 11 African countries.
6 months in, what an adventure it has been. In reaching Dar es Salaam, we’ve covered over 6000 km, produced 13 sustainability stories (with 3 more in the pipeline), 2 video diaries (with several more in the editing suite) and a compilation story charting our journey so far. We’ve met countless inspiring Africans who are working against the odds for a better future: from a beekeeping trainer to a cycling game ranger; and from young female entrepreneurs to an elderly dendrologist; and many more.
We’ve done all this filming and editing while cycling. Along the way we’ve had many hairy experiences: encounters with hyena’s; near-collisions with trucks; infected chafing and deep gashes; muggings at the hands of vervet monkeys. However, we’ve been supported every kilometre of the way by the warm, hospitable people of Africa and, lest we forget, many friends, family members and strangers on social media. Our winning of the Millet Expedition Project has helped us stay safe, warm and comfortable as we camp wild all over the continent. We haven’t broken any speed records, but through our films, we hope to have produced something of value.
We’ve also witnessed much of the destruction being wreaked on people and planet. We’ve seen the devastating impact of sugar cane monocultures in Zambia, the effects of the worst drought in living memory in Namibia, and the overfishing of Lake Malawi. Seeing these unfolding disasters only serves to reinforce the need to find, nurture and celebrate practical solutions, and the people who are working to develop and realise those solutions at scale.
We always said that our route would be malleable – depending on the stories we wanted to cover (we ended up travelling through Zambia instead of Zimbabwe in order to meet with the youth radio reporters of Agents for Change in Lusaka), or for safety reasons (we avoided Northern Mozambique due to reports of instability there).
Given the recent political strife in Ethiopia, we have taken the difficult decision to conclude MoJo Velo (at least this instalment of the concept) in Nairobi, 1500 km short of Addis Ababa. We had long anticipated the delights of Ethiopia, its cuisine, coffee, diverse people and sacred mountains. For several months, we had been monitoring the situation in Ethiopia hoping for stability. However, with the tragic deaths of scores of protestors and the imposition of a nationwide state of emergency, we would be ill-advised to cycle there.
Our journey so far has been entirely incident free – completely breaking with common stereotypes of Africa as an unsafe continent. We wish to keep it that way.
We aim to arrive in Nairobi on 8th December, hopefully in time to undertake a celebratory hike up Mt Kenya. In the meantime, we still have 2500km left to cover. We’ve got three fascinating countries to visit: Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. We are sure to meet many more fascinating people and will do our upmost to capture their stories on film. We’ve got a packed agenda to produce more uplifting films showcasing the talents and passions of Africans, while navigating our way through the muddy mountains of East Africa.
So join us for the last two months – let us know what you think of our videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, sign up to receive email updates on our website, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
We will go flat out to make these last two months the most productive and interesting of the trip so far.
From an excited Steven and Russell in Tanzania.