Man cycles 2450km from JHB to CPT to raise awareness about Gender-Based Violence

Man cycles 2450km from JHB to CPT to raise awareness about Gender-Based Violence

Lunga Ncala shares his story of how cycling helped him to heal from being an abuser to now being an activist against Gender-Based Violence. 

Lunga Ncala
Lunga Ncala/ Instagram

There is a famous quote that says: "Turn your pain into power and that power into growth." That is exactly what Lunga Ncala has done. 

Lunga's life was not smooth sailing. From a young age, he experienced the pain of not having a present father. 

"My root of abuse was the absence of my father, that left me broken with a wound I did not know I had. Over the years that wanting to be accepted and loved led me to a string of bad decisions and character shortcomings. It messed with my self-identity and self-worth. To overcome these feelings and thoughts I became something else," says Lunga.

READ: Alcohol abuse 'main driver' of GBVF pandemic- Nkoana-Mashabane

He says he turned to "drugs, unhealthy relationships and self-sabotage. I didn’t want to feel that way or see myself as unworthy so I created many characters of myself so that no one will ever not love me. 'Be anything else but you, Lunga' was the idea. This was killing my true self as time would show."

Lunga also had an abusive marriage where both partners were perpetrators of the abuse. 

"I got married for all the wrong reasons. I thought marriage would save me from my inner torment," says the father of three. 

However, the marriage showed him how he needed to deal with his own issues. 

"The abuse I faced in my marriage was not entirely her [wife] fault as she was dealing with a mental illness that was not treated. I was a messed-up druggie trying to fix his life just going about it the wrong way. She too was not ready for marriage - young and impressionable. We both just didn’t know what we were doing now add drug addiction, unresolved daddy issues on my side and mental illness, classic mix for failure."

READ: Why do some women remain in an abusive relationship for years?

What is sad is that Lunga started abusing his own children. He says this life was killing him, and this is what led to him to look for other means to deal with his demons. 

"In short what gave birth to this was my own search for healing. Why is it that all I want I can’t have- a loving family and me being fully present for my children?"

As fate would have it, Lunga met a lady who was helping victims of abuse. 

"I met a lady working with abused women and children running a safe house. I thought maybe I could cycle and raise awareness for her work and gather toiletries for the women she helped. The more I spoke to her the more she said: "But Lunga you have your own story, share that?". I was so scared to do so because men don’t speak about such, I was afraid of being laughed at and called names, plus the embarrassment that will follow my family."

Lunga decided to put aside his fears and started sharing his story - and cycling as a way of helping himself and victims of abuse.  

"I cycled on the 25 November 2015 till the 10th of December 2015 #16km16days I called it. I cycled around PE daily posting up encouraging messages and taking pictures of the beauty of the town. On the 10th Dec, I decided to end it with a long ride to Jeffery's Bay and back to PE 70km one way, a total of 140km, the longest I have ever cycled at that time."

Since then, Lunga has done many rides to raise awareness about abuse. 

"I have cycled 8 of the 9 Provinces in South Africa. Only Northern Cape is left out. Plus in 2018 I cycled four African Countries - South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique with a friend Ronald Mathebula 3000km. 2017 I cycled 1000km with Aobakwe Kgoboke within SA."

Lunga says he chooses to cycle and raise awareness in rural areas and townships where there isn't much information. 

"I choose the hardest routes I can find because my aim with Ride Abuse is to take this message to those places which don’t have the big end GBV campaigns. I go to Kasi (townships) and rural areas of South Africa. I choose roads that are legal for me to cycle. It is illegal to operate a non-motorized vehicle on the National Roads (N1) without a safety car and since I do not have a sponsor for the last 5 years I ride on regional road and others, this makes my ride longer."

He says his message to perpetrators is that abuse can be stopped. 

"STOP. That is not who you are. Seek help. Whatever you fear is not really there. I know you are suffering inside, and you have no idea how to deal with it. Reach me and I can help, you must be ready though."

To the abused, he says: "You are so much more than whatever they say you are. You are valuable. It gets better daily. I made it so can you. There is a way to heal and still manage to eat. Most of the victims don’t step up because they fear what will they eat or stay or feed their kids. Trust me once you step out all else falls into place. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t be pleasant at times. Trust the process."

The 35-year-old adds that he is still looking to raise more funds to help him set up a facility where he can help the abused. 

"We are raising funds to build a Wellness Village which will have facilities to heal and uplift those affected by GBV and Substance abuse. To donate, people can visit"

READ: GMA Coronavirus Support: Helping a mom back on her feet after fleeing from abuse

Image credit: Supplied.

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