Songo: Riding to a brighter future has humble beginnings: from founder and former mountain-biking world champion Christoph Sauser’s dream of providing a safe space for children to play on bikes, the programme has evolved into a sports and academic support programme equipping the children of Kayamandi, a township near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, with the skills to lead a successful life. Kayamandi is a community with poor housing, education and infrastructure, and as a result, limited economic opportunities.

Ninety One’s partnership with dates back to 2015 and has enabled its growth beyond just cycling into a structured and focussed programme that also encompasses education, life skills and vocational training. Songo’s objective is for every child that comes through the programme to go on to be a confident, well-rounded individual who is gainfully employed and a contributing member of the community.

“It’s famously been said that all we can give our children are ‘roots and wings’. When the songo children hit the jumps on our BMX track, they are literally flying. We are committed to them also growing the wings that will see them on the path a happy, productive adulthood.”
Christoph Sauser, founder and former mountain-biking world champion

Sports programme

Songo tots
Songo tots
Gets children from local crèches onto balance bikes and once they’re confident, they progress to pedal bikes.
Kids from 6 to 13 years old have daily one-hour coached sessions on the BMX track, with those keen to compete able to do so on regional and national stage.
Mountain biking
Mountain biking
Between the ages of 11 and 13 the kids have the option to move across to the mountain bike programme, where all levels of skill, fitness and competitiveness are encouraged.’s rising stars

Someleze ‘Star’ Nongwe

Someleze ‘Star’ Nongwe joined in 2014 at the age of 14. His curious nature and commitment were immediately obvious and four years later, in 2018, Star matriculated with seven distinctions. Through hard work and dedication, Star received a bursary to study a BCom in International Business at Stellenbosch University. At the same time he decided to give back to the Songo programme, offering up countless afternoons and weekends to share his gift for mathematics to help other Songo students.

Star’s contribution to the programme has been immense – as a maths facilitator, role model and mentor.

Someleze ‘Star’ Nongwe
Someleze ‘Star’ Nongwe
Inspiring women

The Exercise Teachers Academy (ETA) has been a long-time champion of’s matric graduates and last year supported Asabonga Nyangiwe in her Diploma in Sports Management. Asabonga juggled her studies with tutoring the younger kids at Songo in the afternoons.

Meanwhile, Asisipho Ncapha earned a bursary to take part in the Higher Certificate in Sport, Recreation and Fitness Management course at ETA, while Akhona Mntise completed her maths bridging course at Stellenbosch University with flying colours and has now started her law degree. Asabonga, Asisipho and Akhona are a powerful inspiration for the younger girls in the Songo programme who are encouraged to chase their dreams.

Epic champions in the making

We’re excited to share that two songo graduates, Zola Ngxakeni and Ntlantla ‘Jersey’ Nonkasa, will be lining up to represent us as team Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne3 at the gruelling Cape Epic this year. They’ll be racing for the Exxaro Development jersey alongside the Specialized elite teams, all serious contenders for podium places. Also donning the Ninety One/songo/Specialized colours are:

  • South African champ Matthew Beers and partner Christopher Blevins: Team Toyota-Specialized-Ninety One
  • Tristan Nortje and Adrien Boichis: Team Toyota-Specialized-Ninety One
  • founder and five-time Epic winner Christoph Sauser and Paul Magnier: Team Ninety One-Songo-Specialized
  • Former winner Sofia Gomez Villafane and Katerina Nash: Team Ninety One-Songo-Specialized
Someleze ‘Star’ Nongwe
Last updated: March, 2023
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