Our friend Paul is no longer with us, Ride Karamoja is our legacy to Paul in the land he loved most, Karamoja, Uganda. Paul just went about empowering people with little fanfare and he did not like asking for help. Paul, we will miss you, but you will never be forgotten in your home country of Uganda or in your special place, Karamoja.
Paul at home in Karamoja
Paul organizing the riders at the first Tour of Karamoja
Paul Sherwen 1956 -2018
My Eulogy to my friend
I’m an emotional person to start with, the last few days of November 2018, have been really tough for me. Paul sherwen is loved and will be missed by every single person in the cycling world, he and Phil Liggett are like family to tens of millions of us. I ride a bike and I am a cycling fan, but Paul Sherwencame into my life in a very different way and became one of my closest friends. I felt it important that I share with all of you the Paul Sherwen I knew.
Back when I was starting Bicycles for Humanity, a mutual friend Steve Jennings introduced Paul and I. We met at the first Tour of California and when I shared with Paul I was on my way to Namibia with a container of bikes, Paul suggested I stop by and see him in Uganda. I could not believe my good fortune and to spend time with Paul in Africa, a dream come true for any cycling fan. I arrived, we jumped in his Landcrusier and then proceeded into the bush, where he began to share with me every piece of history, culture and wildlife about Uganda. We met chiefs and elders and he spoke multiple African languages and taught me how Africa works and the importance of skills development and empowering the people, not giving them a handout, but a hand up.
Paul is the real African Crocodile Dundee and I was lucky enough to learn the ways of Africa from a person who cared deeply for the people and his home country of Uganda. He and Phil Liggett liked what we were doing with bikes and they gave freely of their time, doing countless charity events to help build Bicycles for Humanity and thanks to their efforts, our movement grew to numerous chapters, we are still grassroots and have delivered over 160,000 bicycles to Africa and became the largest globally at providing the gift of mobility.
Paul grew up in Uganda, he moved there when he was 6, his father ran the fertilizer plant in Tororo and Paul would go to Karamoja, the NE part of the country, on Safari. He never forgot his roots there and when the wars were ending there and everyone was afraid to go there, Paul decided that we should send 5000 bicycles, train the people and as they settled into camps, provide mobility and to help the people move towards a better life. Karamoja was truly off the grid, no economy, no roads, nothing and when I first went there , I fell in love with the people, the people Paul loved. Ben Stiller had been there with Save the Children at the same time and Ben joined us to help get bikes to this region, which together we did.
Since that time, Paul Sherwen with the local people opened a safari lodge, www.kara-tunga.com , started the first Tour of Karamoja, www.tourofkaramoja.com which this year, became the largest cycling event in Ugandan history. I was lucky enough to be a part of this journey, of empowerment and helping an incredible people take the first steps to a better life and today, Paul is not only a legend there, but one of the most respected elders.
Paul’s attention to detail, to respect and honoring the traditions of the people, to creating programs that the people could carry forward and grow, allowing change and opportunity to come from within, honestly might be his greatest legacy. We all know Paul and Phil as the best there is in the cycling announcing game, but in all honesty and having been a part of the journey with him every step of the way, he was a giant in the world of making a difference and empowering a nation and it’s people one small step at a time.
I am emotional, I lost one of my dearest friends, just like in cycling, Paul’s base of friends and respect ran from the warrior or child in the bush right to the President and the First Lady of the country and thousands of people in between. One night Paul called and handed me the phone, the First Lady was on it, asking for help in Karamoja and Paul was first to step up as he has been on countless occasions.
Paul never talked about this life, this life of service to a people and to a country and to a better Africa, he went about doing it and building the relationships that would benefit an entire country and its people.
I’ve had a blessed life, when my friend Paul Sherwen entered my life, and I was lucky enough to spend the last 15 years with him and to really understand him and his passion for a people and a country, my life and tens of thousands of others will be forever richer and the dent in the universe that Paul made will never be forgotten, not in the cycling world and certainly not in Uganda and in Karamoja, that little NE corner of Uganda that he has played a huge part on.
Paul Sherwen was the real Crocodile Dundee, and to his African and Ugandan family, like his cycling family, he will never be forgotten. As I said before, I am emotional, Paul Sherwen is much bigger than cycling and he has touched even more lives in Africa than in the cycling world. Few of us saw this side of Paul, so I felt it important to share a few stories of the Paul I loved and will miss terribly. I believe the best way to honor Paul is to continue the work he believed in empowering people, giving them hope for a better life. Paul loved Karamoja, he loved taking people there and we through Ride Karamoja will continue to honor Paul.
Join Paul and Ride Karamoja
It was Paul's wish that everyone had a chance to visit the place he loved, Karamoja, we invite everyone to join us at this years third Tour of Karamoja.
Paul was a cyclist first and bikes empower people as we learned over 15 years of building Bicycles for Humanity. We encourage you to start a chapter of Bicycles for Humanity, send a container of bikes to Africa, or a pallet of 10 great bikes for guides or a team, through our SEC program.
Work on our mountain bike park has just started, the terrain is incredible and there are literally hundreds of miles of mountains to explore to expand the trail network, with trails for all levels. We encourage you to come and volunteer, design and build a trail with the local people, or purchase one of our fundraising packages to support the trail building in the region.
Ride, explore, build trails, empower the people of the region and by doing this, we are building a legacy that will last forever in memory of our friend Paul Sherwen.
Subscribe if you are interested in helping to honor Paul
The trail building and the Tour of Karamoja are only the start in what Paul wanted to achieve. We are looking to build a museum and a training centre of Excellence in his name. If you are interested in being kept informed about these programs, or you have one you would like to do, please sign up here.