Cycling Stories

She Broke the Taboos

October 12, 2020

She Broke the Taboos

Aunty grew up in a patriarchal society where many things favor men. No woman should wear pants or uncover their hair in public, or ride a bicycle, no matter what the circumstances. It was believed that cycling would break a girl’s virginity, so she was bound to observe these social norms.  

Aunty’s elder brother bought a black Chinese-made bicycle for himself, and his sons also became good riders and cyclers. One of the sons became Aunty’s very close friend, who helped her break the taboos and change society’s narrative. 

During the summertime, as the moon shone onto the happy youth dancing in the village, Aunty and her nephew would drag the bike out into the darkness where no one would notice. She also dressed traditionally after leaving, but uncovered her hair and replaced her long, baggy skirt with jeans shorts once she and her nephew reached the learning field. 

Then, for a couple of hours, Aunty was free to busily learn cycling in the cool night air before dressing as custom required, pushing the bicycle back, parking it in the compound’s back yard, and joining the dancing groups.  

Aunty was a quick learner, and she could ride perfectly after only a couple of days of training. She was so happy because she’d managed to accomplish the task amid the most challenging circumstances. She spoke happily and smiled from ear to ear. She was ready to face the world. 

One day, Aunty was exhausted from fetching twenty liters of water on her head, so she asked her mother if she could bring the bicycle with her on the way to the borehole. After persuading her mother that she would only push the bike up the hill, instead of riding it, she reluctantly agreed. That day, Aunty fetched a remarkable 60 liters of water! 

This continued for a while, and the process became normal to Aunty, who had gained enough confidence to face social criticism. She was also comfortable wearing pants and shorts and uncovering her hair in public. 

One day at the market, Aunty decided to uncover her long, black hair, which laid on her shoulders. She wore a purple blouse that clung to her body and accentuated her breasts. Her jean shorts featured three white stripes, like a Zebra’s, running from her waist down to her knees, which shaped her buttocks nicely. On her feet, she wore blue sandals with white and purple lines on each side.

You could see Aunty’s soft, chocolate skin from her toes up to above her knees, where it met with her well-fitted, perfectly shaped shorts. No words could describe her glamour and beauty that day. It was like she was molded with different clay than others. 

A simple scarf around her neck, Aunty rode the bicycle through the market at midday, with three jerricans tied to the back carrier. As she passed a group of old women, they stopped in their tracks, stood with their hands on their hips, and whispered between one another, “Whose daughter is that? She’s riding a bicycle! What about her virginity? Who would marry such a spoiled girl?” 

A group of men sitting under the trees sipping liquor stared in their direction, eyes glued to the scene, mouths watering with what they saw. Although the whole market was already full of commotion, Aunty lifted her hands from the handlebars, waved and blew kisses to the public, and maintained her balance until she reached the water. 

There, everyone stood motionless, while Aunty went about her business. She parked the bicycle ten meters away, untied her jerricans, smiled broadly, and swung her hips majestically as she walked toward the water.  

The crowd allowed her to fill her containers immediately, but she kindly refused and patiently waited her turn. Meanwhile, a group of young men under a tamarind tree could not take their eyes off her. 

With her containers filled, Aunty returned to the bicycle and pedaled back home with the weight of sixty liters of water. Meanwhile, her name spread like wildfire in the marketplace. She was a hot topic, and her name was spoken at every gathering and drinking point. 

Back at home, Aunty was preparing dinner when her elder brother arrived, and she immediately disclosed what she’d done. She was ready for whatever consequences she might face. 

Because her brother lived abroad and had seen many females riding in public, uncovering their hair, and wearing pants, he only advised that Aunty should respect herself when she rode and avoid marketplaces. He also urged his mother and younger siblings not to condemn her, because times were changing and it was something they were going to have to accept. 

Aunty was so happy and felt so liberated that she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Her narrative was sure to help other girls break societal taboos!

Ngaluku Lukulu Chocho is a Sudanese national who fled to a Kenyan refugee camp in 2011 due to a generation of wars and conflicts. He obtained his secondary education in the camp, trained as a primary school teacher, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Nairobi.
One Comment
  1. Victor

    Wonderful to see these girls with bikes! /Sweden

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