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Piki Piki: A White African’s Best Friend

Hash - Piki Safari - Sudan FlagYou know us wazungu, we love our piki pikis. I grew up on them, literally. My dad used to drive us to Juba Model School when we lived in Southern Sudan every day. I was always jealous of my sister since she got to ride on the tank while I was positioned behind my dad with no view. At 14 baba yangu taught me how to ride properly, I guess he wasn’t too enthused about his son riding uncontrollably around Khartoum and Nairobi like a Kalenjin with a lion on his heels.

[You might be wondering why I’m wearing a jean jacket with a Sudanese flag on the back in the picture above. It was tradition for us to place a flag on the back – usually from the country you lived in, or were closely associated with.]

Piki Safari - 1993

That’s your author, Hash, third from the right.

My last year in secondary school, 8 of us took a piki piki trip up into the NFD (Northern Frontier District). We rode all the way up to Mt. Kulal by lake Turkana – what an incredible place! A green mountain rising out of the desert. I had many tire punctures along the way, we chased zebra and other animals and only one of us managed to mangle his bike in a warthog hole. No serious injuries were had, though each of us had our number of spills.

There was a lifetime missionary who drove the backup Landcruiser who was the best jua kali I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen some of the best) – he could fix anything. He also drove better on those roads than any Safari Rally driver could have. Places that were difficult to traverse with a piki were easily overcome with this monstrous truck. That was an amazing man, no doubt about it.

Once motorcycles are in the blood, they’re hard to get out. Most recently, I’ve enjoyed the bike pictured below. Unfortunately, a crazy American turned across the road in front of me and it was totalled. The front forks were sheared, but I was fortunate enough to come out of it unscathed.

BMW R1100R - Best Bike I’ve owned

I’m now firmly in the BMW camp. The engineering is top notch, they actually build them so that if you have a frontal accident you are vaulted up so that you don’t hit the obstacle as hard or, if you’re lucky like me, at all.

What got me thinking about this: African Offroad Tours, a company that leads piki piki excursions for tourists like I had in my youth.

22 Comments

  1. memories of riding on my pop’s bike flood back after reading this post. I still want to buy one (problem would be keeping my mum from finding out) hmm bmw? they kinda look fuddy duddy to me..(no dont shoot), but like you said, the engineering must be sawa, maybe i will change my mind once i get to ride on one.

  2. *Sigh*
    Hey, are you talking ’bout some missionary living in Gatab? One of those guys (Howard Anderson) took me back to NBO in his really old Landrover. He pushed the sh** out of that old Landi in a real furious ride – I never got a faster ride to Nairobi!
    This piki of yours (Is that a Yamaha XT or Honda XL or so?) has cool reg.no, “KTM“. KTM are really good dirtbikes from Austria!

  3. mzeecedric, that is the same man I was talking about. His bush driving skills were simply amazing, like nothing I’d ever seen before. My piki piki was actually a Yamaha DT 400. It had some serious pickup, but topped out at a pretty low speed (to me).

  4. *fg* Hehe. Maybe we should plan a transafrica tour together ;-)…

  5. I wonder if, like soccer/futbol, motorbiking tells a lot about a culture. Being a solid miro I never rode a piki although I did manage to crash Kenny Kuguru’s motorcycle once (actually I jumped off when I thought I was losing control and let it crash on its own).

    But here in South Dakota people like “bikes” like they like trucks: big, excessive, and American. Engineering is a frivolity – “How big is it?” is the operative question. Lots and lots of Harley Davidson fans and also home to Sturgis (I didn’t know what it meant when I first came here either).

  6. Hey I went to Juba Model School too.

  7. Wow, small world Brian! I don’t think I’ve met anyone else in my life who went to that school. I wonder if Juba Model School is still up and running? I have memories of running into the bush area behind the school and sometimes overstaying my time out there…

  8. Hash,

    It is a sad picture of its fomer self. I have no idea if it is still running. Visit http://www.imatong.com and you will see the dilapidated structure of the school but I am sure you will still be able to identify it. By the way, what year(s) were you there. Personally I was there from I think ’81 to Feb. ’90. Yeah we had a number of Muzungus there: I remember names like Caven(German I believe) and there were these two others a boy and a girl, also German. My memory is getting faint though. And yeah, our headmistris was one Gill Livesey, who now has the last name of Reitsma I believe.

  9. Bobbi Buchanan

    June 13, 2006 at 11:09 am

    Thanks for the memories. I lived at Gatab when Howard was there. My parents along with Howard and family and a few others started Gatab station. It was an idyllic life and I will never forget it. We also rode pikis (1974 Yamaha 175 enduros)left by some generous American visitors.

    Currently my brother is stationed at Loyangolani down on the lakeshore where it is hot and barren-and the kids chase rabbits on four-wheelers and live amazing lives. My American friends felt sorry for us. I haven’t the heart to explain that they were the ones who were to be pitied! I lived at Gatab from 1966 to 1979. Some of the best years of my life!

    P.S. to Brian Adeba -Gil Livesey married a Dr. Reitsma and is now retired. They were in England but it seems that they may have now moved to the States. They have made several trips back to Sudan over the years and I am sure they are missed.

  10. This is a nice post, I been trying to locate anyone from dat Old School. I went to that school, my Mom was a teacher at Kindergarten,a Mama Tabitha. I recall Gill in Primary School,she was the first person who stuck a star on one of my pictures dat I painted at age 4..so memorable.Adeba was my classmate.I also remember some Ghanians,Kenyans in dat school. I visited the school in October 2005,itmade me wanna cry, its become very run-down like nobody been caring for it.I was hoping to start something dat would bring old Juba Model School pupils together to do something symbolic about it,like raise some funds to do some renovation, or build a monument and try to list da names of all those who went there,records may be hard to find but I dunno, I felt there should be something done about da school and not let it die out. My email is emmaduku@yahoo.com if anyone wants to reach me.If anyone has any info on Gill,Rhonda or any of the old teachers from the school, please pass it on.

  11. Oh MAN!!! To read this posting brings nostalgic images of Juba back. Since I fled Juba motorbikes have been in me. Talking of organizing a tour, I’ve been dreaming of shipping my Suzuki Vstrom 1000 to Cape Town and riding to Juba. Along with Brian and Emma (see their comments above) my classmates at Juba Model School until April 1989. I like this idea of the “Return to Juba” trip. Man! if only money was not and object.

    Hash are you stateside?

  12. what a small world, Brian, Emma and Collin, remember me, Long and Bombil’s sister. i’m currently in the UK, and i heard that miss Gill is looking for former model school pupils. i’ll get more info. who is hash,sorry about not remembering, getting old!!! oh i saw the pics of model school and was thinking the same way like u emma, Does anyone remember Akuja Mading, she was in juba this july and brought the pics. Saaaad, hope to do something about that too. keep in touch. how is George and andrew? and how are those of Apollo, warile and Bali? cheers guys,i’m at work and u can reach me at kettyajang@hotmail.com.

  13. New info regarding Gil Livsey. Her husband Doug Reitsma just passed away. There will be a memorial celebrating his life soon. Those of you who want to contact Gil and connect about the old days might want to do so now. I am sure any words of appreciation would come in handy.

  14. Hi Bobbi,

    I personally would love to get in touch with her but I have no contacts. Could you please let me know by writing to me: temejik@yahoo.com.

  15. Lol, Hope you guys still have good memories! Me too was in Juba Model School. Would luv to hear about Miss Gill and all the rest of my colleagues.
    Guys wonna write me: emy_84@yahoo.com
    Ciaooooooo!

  16. Emmanuel Duku

    May 21, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Hi Folks,
    Its been ages since I stepped in here. An initiative has been set in motion in December 2007 when a number of former students of Juba Model School, St. Joseph and Comboni Secondary School( The latter having former students from both Juba Model and St. Joseph) to do something about the state of schools in Juba and the South. At the moment a draft document is being prepared for registering a non-profit outfit by the name READ. I will update as things develop. Currently, discussions are going on in a yahoo group called cssjers@yahoogroups.com
    Those who are interested in joining this group, please send me a private email in my account with your name and email address or your can send an email directly to the moderators.

    Regards.

  17. Godfrey Sunday

    May 31, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Hi Guys, this is probably the best feeling I have had for sometime, know what Guys these are memories of 20yrs or so ! when you get to names like our headmistress Gil, oh how she made a good start for me, old school pals faces now not easily remembered but names familiar say Warile, Akuja, denis Yata hw u doing, I was with you guys a son to the then mama Beatrice Sandru Okayi (RIP) a teacher of inter 2 .Guys Good to know that we are around lets think about Emma’s sugestions get together soon and act to me they are a good step forward.Guys I always longed for this to happened gracious God am fnally realising my dreams.Thanks to you all, can reach me at okungulugodfrey@yahoo.com always available.

  18. Bishop Hilary Adeba

    December 16, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    I am Brian’s father.
    I used to attend all PTA meetings in Juba Model to make the school what prepared you all to be who you are today.

    I remember you guys were all like little todlers. The first day Brian and his other brothers were turned away from the school by Miss Gill who was the H/Mistress. At the age of 3 1/2 years, Brian was to do a written test if I insisted he must be admitted. The kid was very smart and surprised Miss Gill. He scored all his questions correct. The H/Mistress had to apologise to me. She felt bad for refusing Brian a place at first without any reason other than that he came from the bush in Loka secondary school where I worked as a teacher, but had to leave Loka for Juba to find school for my kids.

    Good to see how the Lord has guided you all to be what you are. Humbly proud parents, we all are because of you.
    God bless you all.

    +Hilary L.Adeba

  19. victor dada benjamin

    February 21, 2009 at 10:16 am

    hey guys…lovely to get comments from you…i still remember you all and i guess we met two years ago Katty in khartoum right? Colin and Adeba were my class mates at junior level…good to hear that you guys still have memories of juba modod…you can write me at the above address please…

  20. above is my email…juba modellers who want to keep in touch.

  21. mary/Maria Elionai

    January 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    hey guys,

    got all of u here.I also went to that school juba model.Adeba and the rest can you find for me Aluel Malok Mading ,sister to Angeth.

    regards
    bye

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