ISSUE NO.1 | The Nagas | July 2017
THE TRIBE Rider's Club: The youngest tribe with the eldest quest
Kohima, 25.6586° N, 94.1053° E
Kelezhazo Pienyii is a motorcyclist in Kohima and the leader of The Tribe Riders Club who believes that a Rider’s Club means much more than riding a motorcycle across the country just as a gallivanter. It is to leave a trail of change. We met these riders in Kohima to fetch their unique story, a story strong enough to inspire more.
Apart from being a fitness trainer and a music teacher in the city of Kohima, Kelezhazo Pienyii’s (a.k.a Zhazo) passion lies in being a motorcyclist. He arrived at the bus station with his motorcycle similar to the ones I saw in Ladakh: an old loud Royal Enfield Bullet 500 with fuel-barrel holders assembled at both sides of the rear wheel of his beast letting one know it means real business with distance, and himself in a Biker’s jacket with numerous fraternity badges all over his left chest.
Zhazo was an active member of the Nagaland Motorcycle Club when last year he decided to do something different with his passion. “The Tribe” is a young rider’s club based in Kohima which was started by Zhazo involving members from different tribes in Nagaland. Zhazo claims that although after his withdrawal from his previous club, his act of founding this group was looked at as a competition against his former club, the real story is very different.
Zhazo does not believe that the only objective of a rider could be pleasure, which is a common objective among most riders’ clubs throughout the country. He believes that along with pleasure, a rider ought to think of the bigger picture and a more matured philosophy. So the “The Tribe”, despite being small in constitution at the moment, frequently undertakes numerous self-funded projects to spread awareness regarding various social issues that prevail in this state. This project is known as “Ride for Humanity”.
Their ongoing project is to provide moral and emotional support to HIV victims by visiting various HIV Centers throughout the state, thus trying to remind other people to utilize safety measures to contain the disease as much as possible. To those unfortunate HIV-affected children, “The Tribe” provides them with clothes and gifts to let them know that they are not alone. They have also been involved in spreading awareness against the wide abuse of Opium throughout Nagaland and abuse of other drugs in the Northeast. Just before winter, “The Tribe” visited the village of Meluri in Eastern Nagaland which is known for its poverty and distributed winter clothes and blankets that they had collected through donations from the people of Kohima.
Because of the fact that this fraternity is so young, gathering sponsors has been a challenge for which providing financial aid had been difficult throughout. Zhazo, however, is optimistic. He says “I hope we will be visible to the country very soon for the work we are doing. It is very simple. We are like a bridge connecting the deprived ones to the world and helping them live their lives better. That, to me, means making a difference, and it makes me happy to see that I am not the only one.”
Since the late 1990s, the number of riders in the Indian subcontinent has witnessed an astonishing increase. Projects like “The Himalayan Odyssey” attract every daredevil to be a part of a club and participate in such projects all over the country and abroad. The culture, despite being rampant in the Himalayas and Southern India, does not seem to have touched states like Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Zhazo says “They all think that due to the ongoing insurgency in Nagaland and Manipur, their lives would be in danger. That is not true. The Tribe is their friend and they can come and ride with us anytime.” He asserts that the formation of “The Tribe” also meant reaching out to every rider from other parts of the country and urging them to unite and to execute “Ride for Humanity” in a widespread manner, and thus, working for a cause. “I think to a true traveler, an honest earth-child, a lover of people, this would be as much satisfying and enjoying as another trip to anywhere. There is nothing richer than a selfless cause. And if unity is such a big issue, then this is one of the keys to it.”