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Motorcycle from the Peramiho Mission

The motorcycle, a BMW R27 model manufactured 1963 in Munich with 250 ccm (18 PS), was spotted by former Archabbot Jeremias Schröder OSB in a shed in Peramiho Abbey (Southwest Tanzania) in 2010. Now it is on display as a permanent loan in the museum's "life of the former missionaries" area illustrating the question how the missionary Fathers and Brothers covered great distances.

In the beginning of St. Ottilien's mission work it was walking; today, modern jeeps allow bridging long distances easily. Even today, many tourists are amazed how locals quite naturally travel large distances on foot. They have no walking boots as the missionaries had but mostly use flip-flops. Saddle animals as a means of transport are no option; the climate is too hot and there is a high risk of stings from the tsetse fly.

As an alternative, the missionaries used bicycles; this was rather suboptimal as paths and trails were frequently sandy or silted. Motorcycles on the other hand need broader paths and fuel. The model on display is regarded as being particularly suited for long travels.

One of the missionaries who used the "bike" for years is Fr. Sales Vollmann OSB from St. Ottilien (*29.10.1939). He needed it for his work as a priest in the mission area of the Uwemba priory adjoined to Peramiho in the southwest of Tanzania.

He relates: "It was dangerous travelling with the motorbike because of bad tracks and big stones lying everywhere. Once I had an accident; luckily an Englishman came by with his jeep and picked me up. Fr. Benno (Kufner, * 5.6.1933) used the motorcycle afterwards, then two African confreres. They even travelled down to Lake Nyassa (today Lake Malawi) in the 1980s.

With the BMW model R27 "the era of the German Federal Republic's motorcycle engineering ended where a motorcycle was the main means of transport. The upcoming competition of inexpensive cars on one hand and sporty Japanese motorcycles for leisure travel on the other hand brought the market for this kind of elaborately constructed motorbikes in the Federal Republic of Germany to an end (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_R_27 translated from German).

Some of the discarded touring motorbikes found their way to Africa like our museum exhibit from the Peramiho mission.