Gabriel Nyakabau – a stunt performer also popularly known as the ‘bicycle boy’ was born in Bindura outside Harare, Zimbabwe. At only six years old, Gabriel lost his father and life was hard.
“After my father died life just changed, the quality of life just decreased,” he asserts.
He was left without any support to sustain his life and had to fend for himself. He started doing petty jobs. This robbed him of his childhood since he had no time to play with other kids. “I never really played like other kids, I spent most of my time working as a child,” he recalls.
Life got tougher and he opted to go to Harare and live with his aunt who was willing to shelter him. Though he had shelter over his head, Gabriel still felt the need to excel in something. He could not get support for his education but that did not deter him from becoming the best in something.
He discovered a talent in bicycle tricks, and he worked extremely hard to nurture it.
“He was 12 years old when I realized he was doing the bike tricks. He came home with his stomach, face and arms all scraped from falling,” recalls the aunt.
Since he did not have money to buy a bicycle, it took him time to save some money and assemble his own bicycles. He also services them himself. He says he understands how the balance of the bike needs to be for the stunts.
“I struggled a lot to buy my first bicycle. I bought it as a frame, it didn’t even have wheels. One at a time I bought the spokes, so the bicycle only started working in 2008. So I was doing stunts using other people’s bicycles. I would do stunts for fun,” he told.
But the fun would turn into monetary value. He realized that many people were enjoying his stunts and he decided to not only charge the viewers on the field of which some weren’t contributing, but he thought of making short films of his stunts for sale and also uploading on YouTube to create awareness of his stunts.
In order to stay fit and focused on his stunts, he works out so hard in order to tone his body and make his legs strong for the stunts, of which some are somewhat dangerous. Without a trainer, he learns different styles, some of which come to him through dreams as he explains.
“I get most of these skills in a dream.” Along the way, he encounters challenges as he tells. “Some people think I’m using supernatural powers, they don’t know the real Gabriel. They don’t believe that my talent is God-given.”
Gabriel has employed people who work in various areas. One of the most outstanding positions is the Groundsman as he is popularly known. “My name is Sean England; my job is to lie on the ground.” Sean lies on the ground and Gabriel does the stunts around him or even above him. This entices the crowd.
“This boy has skills, I’m convinced its training. What he does is possible through training. He entertains people. It is impressive,” told a stunt viewer. Gabriel’s dream is to one day go to showcase his prowess internationally.
“I’m not yet satisfied with my level. I want to do my stunts professionally at an international level. If I can get sponsorship, I would like to progress even further, I am not stopping,” he told.
Gabriel has conquered many challenges since childhood and he is not stopping to do what he loves best. He remains to conquer his dreams one day at a time.