Words by Stuart Kenny | Illustration by Lewis Gillies
“In the real world, in all sports, we know that gender equality is important. In Africa that’s not the culture. In Africa the culture is chauvinism.”
I’m speaking to Linda Warren, a 27-time Zimbabwean national cycling champion and one of the leading figures involved in the recently formed Africa Rising Women’s Cycling Program (ARWC). It’s a movement created to fight for the progress of exactly that in a continent where a bicycle is not something generally owned by a woman.
Linda has been involved with the National Cycling Federation of Zimbabwe for over 20 years and previously served as the President of Women’s Cycling on the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC). That was until widespread corruption lead to her being forced out of the Zimbabwean Federation, and she subsequently resigned from her position at the CAC.
“It was not the Confederation I had an issue with,” Linda says. “It was my Federation that had an issue with me. I was serving as Vice-President at the time and the President had a big ego. The power got to his head. He thought ‘I am a man, therefore I am better than you, therefore what you say holds no water’.
“I resigned because they drew up some allegations against me to try and discredit me. I only care about the athletes, so for me it’s not a personal issue. It was a personal attack but I thought ‘please can we just focus on the athletes’. It was ridiculous.