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Noo Saro-Wiwa Recalls a Racially-charged Trip with the Soweto-based Eagles Biker Gang

Looking for TranswonderlandNoo Saro-Wiwa, daughter of Ken Saro-Wiwa, continues the travel-memoir theme of her book, Looking for Transwonderland, in an essay written for The Independent.

In the article, Saro-Wiwa recalls a trip she took to the Free State with the Soweto-based Eagles – “the country’s only black biker gang at the time”. While her journey took place in post-apartheid South Africa, the racism she encountered reveals a country still battling with transition:

Spring time in the still fledgling New South Africa. I was in a white Mercedes, feeling cool though looking a bit of a fool in my borrowed Harley-Davidson jacket, vest and Harley bandana. I was accompanying Paul and Manny, two members of the Soweto-based Eagles, the country’s only black biker gang at the time. I had contacted the Eagles after reading about them in the local newspaper, and asked if I could join them one weekend. We were en route to a biker rally in a town called Villiers, a small Afrikaner bastion of the Free State province.

As we filled out our entrance forms at the rally site, a white guy with a handlebar moustache and mullet hairstyle sauntered towards us. “I like your haircut,” the man said, stroking the bald scalp of Andries, one of the Eagles. “He looks like a moffie!” (Moffie is a derogatory Afrikaans word for homosexual). As Andries moved to a nearby kiosk, the Afrikaner followed him. “You blacks!” he continued at maximum volume. “There are so many of you, you make this place so dark!”

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Photo courtesy the Mail & Guardian

 

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