10 - 08
Carlos Bossouvi, a Beninese athlete, has commenced his 6,473km journey from Cotonou, Benin to Jarcieu, France. The goal is to express international solidarity with organizations involved in improving the welfare of Beninese and also secure aid for such efforts.
The plan is to cycle over that distance within the next sixty days, and the clock began ticking today Sunday, when he begins his northwesterly journey, traversing through the whole of Benin before entering neighboring Burkina Faso.
In Burkina Faso, he will head to the capital Ouagadougou and from there stick to a westerly path aiming for Bamako, Mali. From Bamako, his route shall take him into Mauritania, thereby skirting northern Mali, which is currently still suffering through a low intensity insurgency.
From Mauritania, he will head north into Morocco, from where he is to take a ferry across the Mediterranean to the French town of Sète. He should then cycle his way to the town of Jarcieu, near Lyons, the headquarters of the organization sponsoring his journey, Jar’nati. He is expected to arrive in Jarcieu on October 9th.
The journey has been split into 45 stages, and Bossouvi has encouraged those who can to accompany him in covering some of these stages.
This will be no easy feat, even if much of the route to be covered can be generally described as being on a massive plateau. Benin has an average elevation of 200m, while neighboring Burkina Faso’s average elevation is twice that, but like much of the rest of the route, the path is sandy, and hard to move about. This is especially true in Mauritania, a country which is ¾ desert, and sand covers 40% of its vast expanse.
In Bamako, he could face a different challenge, for he could be in town in time for its heavy rains, which pound the city from August.
Whatever the challenges, Bossouvi plans to cover at least 120km a day for at least 4 consecutive days, interspersed with 1 or 2 day rest days.
Carlos expects to raise at least a Euro per kilometer covered, and Jar’nati is working with Hello Asso to sell his kilometers.
The proceeds will be used by Jar’nati to continue its programs in Benin; the non-profit has been operating in Benin, primarily northern Benin, since 2009, and it runs a library, and orphanage and 2 dispensaries.
The athlete and the organization crossed paths after a Jar’nati truck holding some 8 tons of medical supplies, books, clothes, and equipment was held by Benin customs officials in March, provoking the 25yo former military man into the cycling challenge to highlight the plethora of issues such non-profits are trying to mend, and thus express solidarity with their quest to make the world a better place.
Godspeed, Carlos Bossouvi.
By Matengo Chwanya