Bikeathon Inspired by Jonathan Seex Launches August 25
To Benefit Kenya Rivers & the Indian Ocean
A seven-day cycling rally from Kajiado to Watamu is designed to “connect the dots” between Kenya rivers and pollution in the Indian Ocean. Inspired by the late Jonathan Seex, an avid mountain biker and CEO of the Tamarind Group who lost his life in the March Ethiopian Airline crash, the 680 km bikeathon begins next Sunday, August 25.
Colleagues from the Tamarind Group, one of the corporate partners, and Seas4Life Trust invite more bikers to help build Kenya’s Blue Economy.
“We aim to bring attention to the rivers that flow from Nairobi to the sea,” said Julie Church, co-founder of Seas4Life Trust. “For instance, the Mbagathi River leads into the Athi, becoming the Galana and entering the ocean just north of Malndi as the Sabaki. The sources of these rivers are forests in the Aberdares and Ngong Hills. They used to bring clean water to the sea, feeding people, wildlife and other ecosystems en route. They are now heavily polluted.”
The name Nairobi was derived from the Maasai word enairobe, which means a place of cool water. The burgeoning capital city of 6.5 million people began as a water depot for the original train line from Mombasa, known as the Lunatic Express. But over a century later, what happens in Nairobi does not stay in Nairobi.
Josemaria Maina Mbui, born in Nairobi only 20 years ago, said, “I can’t relate to those cool clear waters. I’ve only seen black rivers, unless I venture up near Mt. Kenya, where I was able to drink out of a clear stream.” Mbui, who has been training with pro biker Simon Blake for over a year, reminds bikers to wear their helmets even though much of the route is off-road. More bikers are needed, as well as sponsors for bikers. You can join for only one day, and non-cycling family members can sign up for the safari across Amboseli and Tsavo. Proceeds will benefit sustainable solutions. “If you don’t do something about the rivers,” Mbui said, “you can’t swim in the ocean when you go to the coast on holiday.”
Nor can you enjoy the seafood that made the original Tamarind in Mombasa famous. “We serve fish from the Indian Ocean,” said Gerson Misumi, Chairman of Tamarind Management, which includes the Tamarind Dhow, the Carnivore, and the Tamarind Tree Hotel designed by Jonathan Seex; “We need a clean environment in order to sustain tourism. We have to look after our own environment; we cannot wait for others to do it.” He points out tall glass bottles the Tamarind uses to serve guests water: “We discontinued single use plastics, but we need to do much more to have a healthy ocean. It’s a concern to us as a company. We need to wake up and plan our towns and malls to be sustainable. If we don’t, we should not be surprised our rivers look the way they do.”
Martin Dunford, founder of the Carnivore Restaurant and an avid surfer, said he had just seen hundreds of big plastic bags floating in Mombasa’s Kilidini Harbour. A 2-month study of toxic flow in Kenya Rivers is running this week in the Daily Nation.
For a constructive solution to ensure clean water from the Chyulus to Mombasa, see the latest issue of Swara magazine, the journal of The East African Wildlife Society. The Society is also partnering with other NGO’s to help restore the Mara River, a lifeline for the Mara-Serengeti ecosystems that flows into Lake Victoria.
Nish Lakhani, a trustee for Seas4Life, said this bikeathon is only the first annual event in the works.
To find out more https://seas4life.org