INTO OUR HEARTS
THE STORY OF TANYA MUZINDA
Words and photos by David Bulmer
In the grand scheme of sport, motocross is a tiny blip on the radar. Even now, with the pyrotechnics and the live TV coverage, it pales in comparison to the Goliathan following and consequent media presence of main stream sports like the NFL.
But sometimes it’s the basic and fundamental complexion of motocross and those around it that make it such a fascinating place to be involved. There’s a real community feeling around the pits, and strangers are treated like friends just because there’s a dirtbike in the back of their truck. And perhaps the coolest aspect of the motocross community’s kind nature: it is invariably the same, anywhere in the world.
In the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to see this in person all around the globe, from Brazil to Belgium, New Mexico to New Zealand. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve always been treated as part of the family, simply because I’m into motocross and so are they. However, it was on my last trip, to Zimbabwe, that I truly had the opportunity to appreciate just how awesome this sport is and what an effect it can have on kids, families and, indeed, entire communities.
Zimbabwe isn’t exactly known as a motocross powerhouse, and when I got the call to go down there, I must admit to being slightly shocked and a little bit apprehensive. However, I’m always up for something new, and the fact that I’d be accompanying three-time women’s World MX champion Stefy Bau certainly eased my mind. So why were we both flying halfway around the world? Quite simply: Tanya Muzinda.
Now it’s not as if Africa as a continent hasn’t produced top-quality motocross riders before; I’m sure everyone is familiar with Grant Langston, Greg Albertyn and Tyla Rattray. All of them have been elite competitors of the world motocross and AMA series, but they also share three other similarities: They are all from South Africa, they are all white, and they are all men. Now, without delving too deeply into the mercurial social, economic and cultural climates in the southern end of Africa, to have a 9-year old black girl like Tanya Muzinda competing in motocross is a rarity. And to then have her actually beating boys her age makes her someone very special indeed; an anomaly well worth seeing in person. Also, even if we weren’t sure about the legitimacy of the trip before we arrived, the fact that we were greeted by the national press as soon as we got through airport customs cemented our belief that this was sure to be an extraordinary experience...