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Video: How cycling is helping Rwanda overcome memories of genocide

Short film by Oscar-nominated director relates how Samuel Mugisha was inspired by national team - and now rides for it

A short documentary from Al Jazeera follows a young cyclist from Rwanda who was inspired by the sight of the central African country’s national team riding by that he decided to take up cycling himself – and now, he is in the squad.

The sport has become a symbol of the country’s struggle to put its past behind it, in particular the 1994 genocide on which some 800,000 people, mainly members of the minority Tutsi community, died.

Samuel Mugisha’s own family was touched by the tragedy, and his pursuit of a professional cycling career is driving by his ambition of helping improve the lives of his mother and four siblings.

The film was made by Oscar-nominated director, Orlando von Einsiedel and was filmed in capital city Kigali and the surrounding mountains.

The role of cycling in helping Rwanda overcome that brutal chapter of its history has attracted the attention of writers and film makers from around the world in recent years, and the country is now home to its own national tour.

In 2012, just five years after American framebuilder Tom Ritchey and Tour de France rider Jock Boyer helped set up the national team, it had a rider, Adrien Niyonshuti, competing at the London Olympic Games, with the story covered in the feature-length documentary, Rising From Ashes.

Rising From Ashes from T.C. Johnstone on Vimeo.

Niyonshuti – who himself lost six brothers during the genocide – provides an example for Mugisha and others to follow.

Now aged 28, he turned pro with MTN-Qhubeka in 2009. Racing at UCI Professional Continental level, the South Africa-based team will ride the Tour de France for the first time this July.

Last year, the Rising From Ashes Foundation Ritchey and Boyer founded brought out a follow-up video focusing on how the project is progressing, including construction of the Africa Rising Cycling Centre.

The Next Chapter from Rising From Ashes Foundation on Vimeo.

 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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