On October 18th Cycle Connect’s founder, Muyambi Muyambi, launched his first children’s book The Magical Wooden Bicycle. The story is inspired by Muyambi’s own childhood and passion for bikes.
Some quick facts about the author, the book, and how you can purchase it:
First off, where can people buy the book?
The book is available for purchase via the book website and you can pay with credit card and Paypal. Currently, the book is only available for delivery in the US.
What was the motivation behind writing a children’s story? Have you always wanted to be an author or is this a new inspiration?
I wrote this children’s book for many reasons – but most importantly, to share the story of my childhood in rural Uganda. Growing up in a struggling economy is a powerful life experience but not always the negative perspective assumed by many or perpetuated by the media. This book serves as a reminder that children do not think of themselves as inferior, powerless, uncreative, or poor until the world starts to tell them so. It also provides a unique opportunity to shed light on the purpose and mission of Cycle Connect, formerly Bicycles Against Poverty, which I founded in 2008 at Bucknell University along with a small group of students thirsty for global change.
How did you get into cycling as a young child?
Every kid I knew growing up adored bicycles and desperately wanted one. Unfortunately, bicycles were mostly limited to the few elders that could afford them. The high cost meant those that had bicycles treated them as treasures. Naturally, we all gravitate towards what’s exciting and inaccessible. I was no different as a kid.
Fast forward to when I was in high school, my elder brother surprised me and bought me a bicycle. I used it to go to school and run errands. It felt great to finally have one until it was stolen about 2 years later. At the time, I had been using the bicycle to meet my needs like most people in Uganda. I would say I really got into cycling as a fun activity and sport after my undergraduate when I cycled around the USA.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from riding a bike?
I am at peace when I ride – especially if it’s an open road. No cars, no noise. Just me and my two wheels with an open road ahead of me. It’s akin to meditating surprisingly.
On the other hand, if you are in a fast group ride, that’s a different story. Cycling in that case introduces you to your own limitations. No matter your heart and will, if you haven’t been training, it will show. The stronger riders will drop you (leave you behind) which can be embarrassing.
What motivated you to start Cycle Connect and build a career and life around helping others?
There is one moment and story that stands out to me in particular. It was probably 6:00 A.M. or earlier because I remember it was still dark and I was walking through Kampala heading to my school on the other side of the city. All of a sudden I saw something move underneath a bunch of cardboard boxes. I thought it was a snake so I jumped a little bit, but it turned out it was a street kid sleeping. I can remember the emotional toll that took on me. From feeling helpless to saying to myself, that if a chance presented itself, I would make a difference. In fact, my first attempts at building something in high school was focused on helping street kids.
What do you hope young readers will take away from the story?
I hope young readers get inspired to be creative. Go out into the world and make something with their hands. In the process, you might discover a new passion or brush off an old one.
The book targets two diverse groups of children. What we label as the Global South and the Global North. For so long and even up to now, the Global North tends to drive most trends and conversations. I hope this book inspires and reinforces the understanding that the Global South has a lot to offer to the Global North.
How can I share this book with others?
Taking the time to share this book will help us bring the story of The Magical Wooden Bicycle to more children. Please share by passing on our Facebook or Instagram, and of course, the book website where you can purchase the book. We appreciate the help in spreading the word!
This is the perfect gift for a young reader – and a great quarantine activity to share with your kids – who might be curious about the world and looking for ways to understand the unique experiences of children from other parts of the globe. It might even move your family to start biking and see what the joy of being on two wheels is all about.