From Nairobi to SA: Samuel Mbeche’s epic ride and challenges in push for Eye Care awareness

Samuel Mbeche after travelling 800 Kilometres. PHOTO/Samuel Mbeche
Samuel Mbeche after travelling 800 Kilometres. PHOTO/Samuel Mbeche

On May 10th, 2024, a young Kenyan rugby player and Optometrist Samuel Mbeche dared to dream and put his name in the history books as one of the first Kenyans to cover 13,000kilometres in 22 days through 10 countries from Nairobi to the Southernmost tip of Africa (South Africa) using his 14-year-old two-wheel BMW R12000 GS motorbike.

From smooth tarmac to rugged gravel, sandy trails to river crossing,  Mbeche rode with his sole mission being to raise eye care awareness dubbed “Eyes for Africa”, a cause close to his heart.Mbeche, an eye care provider and an optometrist based in the national capital, Nairobi and a rugby player who plies his trade with Kenya Rugby Union’s top tier side Mwamba RFC completed a grueling 13,000 km motorcycle journey from Nairobi to South Africa this week.

Samuel Mbeche’s  reflection

Scrummage Africa had the opportunity to catch up with Mbeche immediately upon his return to Nairobi, capturing the essence of his journey, the challenges faced, and the memorable moments that marked his epic adventure.

Mbeche, an avid motorcyclist and passionate advocate for eye health, embarked on this journey to highlight the importance of regular eye check-ups and to support initiatives that provide eye care to underprivileged communities.

“Eye care is often overlooked in our society, yet it is crucial for our overall well-being, I saw the need and the gap, looking at Africa and in Kenya, process eye care is very limited, where you go to hospitals you’ll just find general practitioners,” Mbeche explained.

Samuel Mbeche in a past trip. PHOTO/Samuel Mbeche

Samuel Mbeche in a past trip. PHOTO/Samuel Mbeche

“I wanted to do something bold to draw attention to this cause for people to learn, and what better way than a challenging ride across 13 countries?” he voiced.

“Kenya is one of the countries with preventable blindness issues, preventable means something could have been done but it wasn’t done, many people don’t know this and that was my key motivation to raise eye care awareness” he explained.

The journey was far from easy. Mbeche faced numerous obstacles, from harsh weather conditions to navigating treacherous terrains.

“Fatigue was my main challenge, at some point, I ran out of cash when I Zambia due to many taxes I had to pay like Carbon tax, road permits, and Interpol clearance which I never knew and of course some harsh weather,” he recalled.

“In Zimbabwe, I even got lost and found myself in the middle of nowhere, no roads, luckily I had the right bike and kept going, I took it as part of the adventure, ” he added.


Crossing borders presented another set of challenges. Mbeche had to deal with bureaucratic hurdles, ensuring all his paperwork was to avoid delays.

“The paperwork at border crossings was a nightmare,” he said. “I had to be patient and persistent, especially when officials were not familiar with the nature of my journey.”

“At some stage, I got arrested and released a few times but all in all I can term my journey a success,” he noted.

Despite the challenges, Mbeche’s journey was filled with unforgettable moments. He spoke fondly of the people he met along the way.

“I made contact with different people in different countries who were telling me what to avoid, what to expect, roads to use, the hospitality I received was kind from strangers,” he said.

“One memorable thing is when I got to Lusaka, Zambia I met someone who was a high state official in terms of security, he contacted all the police stops between Lusaka and Livingston, they knew I was coming and kept stopping and just checking up on me, at some point I thought I was being arrested only to get greetings and well wishes, He went ahead and offered me 200 kwacha just for breakfast in addition I was given a police escort to the hotel where he reserved for my accommodation. It was heartwarming to see the solidarity and support for my cause.” Mbeche offered.

Samuel Mbeche receives a jersey from Ronnie Omondi. PHOTO/Samuel Mbeche

Samuel Mbeche receives a jersey from Ronnie Omondi. PHOTO/Samuel Mbeche

The stunning landscapes also left a lasting impression on Mbeche riding through the Namib Desert at sunrise was a sight to behold.

“It reminded me of the beauty of our continent and why we need to preserve and protect it,” he said.

Reflecting on his journey, Mbeche remains humble yet determined.

“This is just the beginning. I plan to undertake more such initiatives to keep the conversation about eye care going and do a better thing, it’s been a learning process, I strongly believe everyone deserves to see the world clearly, and if my journey can help even a few people, it’s all worth it,” he concluded.

Terming his journey a pure success, Mbeche is now embarking on taking a rest before figuring out the next tour and taking part in the upcoming Kenya Rugby Union national seven circuit set to commence in July.


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