WHEN over 400 international bikers and their support staff along with their families and friends descended on the capital of the Mountain Kingdom, Maseru early this week to attend the iconic Motul Roof of Africa rally for the first time in two years, the whole country was hoping for the usual euphoria that normally accompanies the epic event.
Nov. 25, 2021
3 min read
The return of the Roof of Africa rally elates the country
- Round the Houses is a tradition that most people who grew up in Maseru have come to love
- Grueling riding show that features some of best and toughest bikers in the world is also a huge economic booster
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Owing to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the race that was inaugurated in 1967 as a cross-country rally for cars from Johannesburg to Durban, passing through Lesotho had been postponed for the last two years.
But this time around, the sought after and revered Round the Houses segment of the rally has been cancelled as necessary arrangements were not made in time to ensure that this particular component of the event takes place.
Be that as it may, we still have the illustrious Time Trial and the Main Race to enjoy, therefore all the entertainment involved is not entirely ruined.
The Round the Houses is a tradition that most people who grew up in Maseru have come to love and look forward to every year, hence, its absence somehow makes the international biking show seem incomplete.
The amount of revenue that is normally generated on the day that component of the race is held has over the years made a significant contribution towards the development of Lesotho’s economy.
The grueling annual riding show that features some of the best and toughest bikers in the world is not only a huge booster to our frail economy, but it also offers local riders a chance to test their proficiency against their more experienced and of course better-equipped counterparts from across the globe.
The race has over the years steadily mutated into an off-road marathon for motorbikes and quads entirely contained within Lesotho’s borders before becoming the giant show it is today.
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In a bid to commemorate the return of the race, a new Iron Class has been added to give lesser experienced riders the opportunity to experience the mountains of Lesotho from the saddle. The new class will be run alongside the established Gold, Silver and Bronze Classes.
The country’s ability to put the pandemic under control has opened its doors to both tourists and bikers.
Only one negative PCR test is required to enter Lesotho and must be done within 72 hours of crossing the border. Since the test result, if negative, is valid for 14 days, no second test is required within Lesotho. Rapid tests are available at the border, but this needs to be repeated on exit. Lesotho has also implemented drive-through border formalities, although South Africa is yet to follow suit.
But what really matters is that the spectacular show that has become so synonymous with this season is finally back and as Basotho, we need to fully embrace it while making the best of what it offers.