The well attended funeral of founder and member of Rising Phoenix MCC Norman “Fathiqhue” Bingham in Lobatse over the weekend took me all by surprise. I guess Norman’s funeral will forever be remembered by those who attended as well as those who were in town that particular day, Saturday 3rd January, 2015. Rising Phoenix, which is a motor biking group, made an astonishing mark as they took the town by storm. Their presence in town was felt even by those who didn’t make it to this funeral of note. I must confess I have never taken biking seriously as I had little or no interest at all at getting to know what they are all about and what they actually do. But after the weekend funeral, I had a totally changed mind set.
The funeral place at Maokaneng ward, Bingham’s residence, was turned into something extraordinary which I still struggle to explain in simple terms. It was some sort of festival. Yes, a jam-packed festival meant to celebrate the life of a hero that he was. The place was so crammed with bikers from near and afar clad in their regalia and top of the range motor bikes! As the funeral proceedings progressed, the sound of bikes arriving could be heard in the vicinity, automatically derailing the focus of mourners as they kept going in and out of the yard to witness the unfamiliar sight. The excitement and the desire to see more grew even at the graveside where more displays were made.
One after the other, speakers told of how impressed they were of the day’s motorbike display and the performances by members. They told of how sorry they were to have associated the group with others who are known for not so fine actions. I remember at some point the area councillor Tiny Dinoko, Norman’s former classmate stood and asked if it was possible that the group may be invited to perform at parties and other social events. To me her enquiries were evident enough that like the rest of the gathering, she was equally impressed.
Responding to questions from Sunday Standard, the group’s Public Relations Officer Victor Mmolawa said they are not in any way associated with the so called “Ma Western” or” Marock” group who are known for their cowboy gear look. He said however, that they do not have a problem having a member who believes in rock music and all that is associated with it. “It is however worth noting that we are both motor bikers brought together by the love of biking among others, and guided by the constitution and code of conduct provided by the club”, he said.
Mmolawa also pointed out that to be a member, one has to part with a joining fee of P300, which comes with club colours. As part of social corporate responsibility, he said they have always distributed toys, blankets, food to mention but a few, to deserving people at various villages and charitable organisations across the country which would have made a plea.
He said the late Bingham was a very respected and dedicated member of the group because besides being its founder, he was also their Road Captain. He said it was through Bingham that they also bonded and strengthened relations with other groups across borders such as the Expandables from Rustenburg, Elite Riders also from Rustenburg, Ride With from Mafikeng, Baeti from Polokwane, and many others. Locally he said there are the Three Chiefs, Ulysses Botswana, Live to Ride, Braves and Botswana Bikers Association. Many at times, Mmolawa said the groups hold rallies such as the Toy and Run, adding that it is during this time that members from all spheres meet at one place to offer each other the much needed support. Norman was also described as a keen long distance biker, having travelled to faraway places in neighbouring countries, alone on a motor bike.
“We have challenges also, because as you might be aware, biking is still an upcoming sport. So we still expect the society and motorists alike to adjust to sound and noise caused by bikes as well as sharing the road. We always advice our members to ride with caution, to observe road rules and where possible share their experience with others who might want to learn”.
Bingham or “Metsi Metsi Jomklak” as he was known in biking circles leaves behind his mother, seven siblings, two sons and a friend. May his soul rest in peace.