Olabisi Ajala

Olabisi Ajala with friends in the Red Army in Moscow
Ajala the Traveller making friends with the Red Army in Moscow. Photo: Expedition Portal

Olabisi Ajala, popularly known as “Ajala the traveller”, was the gregarious globe-trotting Nigerian who, in a one-man odyssey which began at his twenty-seventh year, met many leaders of the world and supposedly visited eighty-seven countries, mostly on a bicycle. Ajala, born in 1930 in Ghana, was hailed in the Ebenezer Obey’s popular song of the 1970s, “Ajala travels all over the world.”

Ajala schooled in Nigeria and travelled at the age of 18 to the United States to study Psychology at Roosevelt College. There, he started his journeys, stopping to deliver lectures on “present day Africa”. Once in his journey, Ajala defied a heavy police guard in Berlin, East Germany, to deliver a letter of thanks to Mr. Nikita Khrushchev, Prime Minister of Soviet Russia for allowing him to cross the Iron curtain. There was also an event, when visiting a children’s orphanage in Warsaw, Poland, that a little girl who had never seen a black man, burst into tears at the sight of him.

Ajala left Warsaw for Prague, Czechoslovakia,and to Austria on the next stage of his two- year’s round-the-world trip by motor scooter. In 1957 he changed his schedule and decided not to visit Soviet Union immediately, as he had planned earlier. He was particularly anxious to avoid the cold of the Russian winter. He spent six monhts in Africafrom mid-November to May 1958. He visited Yugoslavia, and Albania, arriving in Hungary about the beginning of October and then Bulgaria and Rumania. Ajala thereafter travelled through Turkey to North Africa. His journeys came to an end in 1963, and of his life, in 1999. Ajala mentioned in his autobigraphy, his encounter with brutality and racial intolerance; the bitter evil of man’s inhumanity to man. He also revealed he had marbled at the goodness of the humane-hearted.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer