Monday Motivation: Sharjah Jonsson shows a side of South Africa that is often overlooked
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Sharjah Jonsson is no stranger to the rolling hills of the Tshelimnyama valley, he has raced countless events at Giba Gorge mountain bike park and spent time in an excavator building trails for the park. But the Ekukhanyeni township on other side of the valley was only somewhere he drove past on his way to Giba. That changed when his childhood friend Mvelo Ntombela invited him to explore the footpaths of Ekukhanyeni.
The pair have spent years riding and racing tother, in Giba Gorge, after Ntombela joined the bike park’s development program. Since then, he has gone on to work at Giba and remains a consistent riding partner for Jonsson whenever the South African gravity racer returns from European adventures to his native KwaZulu Natal.
“I wanted the project to tell a story and to show a side of South Africa that is often overlooked,” Jonsson explained. “Townships are often seen in a negative light in our local media. With the help of Mvelo we proposed my plan to the community and planned the routes. A major concern was how to ensure it was safe and that we weren’t being disruptive to the community members walking on the paths.”
“When we started the filming, I was blown away by the community’s warm welcome and the stoke they showed, seeing me ride their footpaths,” he grinned. “After the filming, it was rad to sit down and learn more about the community from the locals and find out what some of the paths were used for.”