By Jeune Afrique
Though Joseph Kabila has said little publicly since leaving power, the former Congolese president has staged multiple events to buff up his image. The latest episode: a motorcycle ride, a huge hit on social networks.
Eyes hidden by dark glasses, the beard back again, hair dancing in the wind and hands on the handlebars of a heavy motorbike – a Honda American Shadow – Joseph Kabila heads a gang of motorcyclists parading in the streets of Muanda, in Kongo Central.
The pictures, taken on 1 December, raced round Facebook and Twitter, where Kabila has also put a photo of himself on his Honda as his personal icon.
The former Congolese president had arrived the day before – Saturday – at the wheel of his 4×4. He checked in to the La Beviour Hotel in Muanda, an investment by his younger brother Zoé Kabila, the current governor of Tanganyika province, which is one of the four provinces created following the division of Katanga province.
He met the members of the Club des Motards de Kinshasa (CMDK; Kinshasa Motorcycle Club), who had arrived the day before.
“Nothing was planned,” Kikaya Bin Karubi, a member of the CMDK, who was also Joseph Kabila’s diplomatic adviser when he was in power, assured Jeune Afrique. “When he arrived, it was a real surprise for us.”
The bikers had set themselves the challenge of making the round trip between the Congolese capital and Muanda, on the Atlantic coast.
Nearly 1,200 kilometres on two wheels, between 29 November and 1 December.
“A real challenge, which also allows us to test our machines,” said Karubi, who shares a passion for large calibre engines with his former boss.
According to the former diplomatic adviser, it was after a dinner with KMTC members that Kabila had come up with the idea of organising a parade the next day: “It’s a request that no one could refuse.”
“We did the parade at low speed in Muanda, we were driving at a maximum speed of 40 kilometres an hour,” asserts Kikaya, as if to answer the repeated criticism on social networks about the lack of attention paid to the highway code: neither the former president nor many of his tour partners wore a helmet during the parade in Muanda.