Once in a while, this blog features strangers with whom I share tables in different coffee shops across the country. Our coffee addiction connects us. This time round, the stranger in question happens to be an adventure rider and a coffee enthusiast. This encounter took place at Imigongo Art Center in Kayonza.
He goes by the name Katikati Fernand. The veteran biker owned his first motorcycle at a tender age of 16. His Honda Cruiser 125 cc made him the coolest boy in Bujumbura, where he lived at the time. That was 48 years ago. Yes, he has been traveling on two wheels for almost half a century.
Katikati is a Kigali-based businessman. Our conversation took place when he had a coffee break in Kayonza, on his way to Nyagatare. On the parking lot, his 1,000 cc Africa Twin made my Indakangwa look like a baby. His collection of toys includes a 1,200 cc BMW Cruiser. This bike got a huge endorsement when James Bond used it in his 1997 thriller, Tomorrow Never Dies.
Recently, Katikati got rid of his third bike, a BMW R 1200 GS. He sold it in order to create space for a sleek Goldwing, which happens to be his dream bike. The yet-to-be-imported Goldwing is another masterpiece from Honda. He fell in love with this bike when he was a little kid. It is about time he fulfills his childhood dream.
Katikati is a member of a club known as Kigali Free Bikers (KFB). KFB fellas ride big machines, boasting not less than 400 cc. Whenever they do a group ride, their powerful engines cause a commotion and turn heads. They are united by the love of motorcycles and adventures. Being able to afford expensive two wheelers and burn fuel for fun is a privilege they don’t take for granted. In this regard, their tours are designed to give back to the community. They ride for charitable causes.
Over the years, Katikati has created memories he will cherish for the rest of his life. He recalls the ride to the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo as one of the most memorable expeditions he has ever been part of. Biking around the hidden gems, in the shadow of the volcanoes, took his breath away.
One of his frequent trips between Kigali and Bujumbura turned out to be extremely challenging. His bike broke down somewhere between Ngozi and Kayanza. He was unable to fix it. Pushing a heavy motorbike for hours, in a desperate attempt to find a mechanic, is one of those stories I like to listen to over coffee.
His advice to bikers: Invest in proper protective gear. A few years ago, a taxi-motor rider appeared out of nowhere and caused what could easily be a fatal crash in Bugesera area. He was involved in a bad accident but escaped unscratched, thanks to his well-equipped biking gear wardrobe. One more thing: Don’t ride under the influence of alcohol. Don’t ever do that.
The author is currently visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Kayonza is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Akagera Rhino Lodge, Jambo Beach, Imigongo Art Center, Silent Hill Hotel and Ihema View Campsite.