Ajala who was described in many Nigerian songs as Africa’s greatest traveller was a Nigerian called Moshood Adisa Olabisi Ajala, He was a renowned globe-trotter, socialite and freelance journalist, Ajala was born in Ghana, then moved to Nigeria to school and went to the US at age 18 where he started his travels in the 50s. He supposedly went to 87 countries in six years and mostly on his bicycle. Hear Ajala in his own words after the cut…
Excerpt from his book
From America, I went to Canada (where I spent a couple of years) and later on to Britain. In 1957 I began my one-man Odyssey around the world. It is still going on as I write this in Sydney, Australia. In nearly all the eighty-seven countries I have visited during the course of my six-year jaunt around the world (ranging from North America to Eastern and Western Europe, through Africa and Asia and as far east as Korea, Indonesia and Australia), I have observed many different political regimes both in democratic and communist states. I have met with brutality and racial intolerance. I have felt the bitter evil of man’s inhumanity to man, and have marbled at the goodness of the humane-hearted”
Ajala’s Abroad Soujourn
In Chicago, Àjàlá conceived of a cross-country trip to Los Angeles on a bicycle. The trip “covered about 2,280 miles in 28 days. He started the trip on the 12th of June 1952, and arrived in Los- Angeles City Hall on July 10.” The trip earned him many accolades, including coverage in the major newspapers of the time. Upon arrival in Los Angeles two days ahead of schedule, Àjàlá was received by the city mayor Fletcher Bowron.
He did not return to Chicago.
In Los Angeles, he became a mini superstar and gave a lot of interviews. He was later cast in a movie called White Witch Doctor, based on the 1950 novel by Louise A. Stinetorf, and produced by 20th century Fox. He had been given the recommendation by Ronald Reagan whom he had met three years earlier. He was also signed up to act in the movie “Killer Ape” but never started work on it.
His calibre was accompanied by many women. One of them was a Chicago nurse named Myrtle Basset who gave him his first child named Ọládipúpọ́ Andrei Ajala (born on January 21, 1953). Ọládipúpọ̀ means “wealth has increased” in the Yoruba language. But Ajala had first denied paternity of the child. He had to be forced by the courts to pay ten dollars per week to the mother when he refused to show up in court to take the blood test he had ordered. Ọlábísí then disappeared and never saw Ọládipúpọ̀ again until 1976 when the latter had become a pianist. Ọládipúpọ̀ died on January 19, 2020.
Curated by Emmanuel Ayobami