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People > Nigeria fact file > Moshood Adisa Olabisi Ajala

Moshood Adisa Olabisi Ajala

Moshood Adisa Olabisi Ajala was born in Ghana of Nigerian parents and was brought up in Nigeria. He was one out of 25 children,  he schooled in Baptist Academy, Lagos and Ibadan Boys’ High School.  Ajala went to America to further his studies at the age of eighteen. His initial intent was to study medicine in order to debunk the practice of voodoo and other superstitions back in Nigeria but he later changed his mind.

Ajala became famous in 1952 when he decided to embark on a lecture tour across the United States from Chicago to Los Angeles, on a bicycle tour covering an incredible 2,280 miles. He arrived at the Los Angeles City Hall on 10th of July, two days ahead of his 30-day schedule and was received by the city mayor Fletcher Bowron. The tour included stops to deliver lectures at 11 major cities

As a psychology student of Roosevelt College in Chicago, his purpose for the tour was to educate the American public on the progress made by West Africa and he went about it in native Nigerian costumes to show and prove to Americans that Africans do not go about naked in loin clothes.’

Olabisi Ajala was a sophisticated world traveller who held a degree in psychology from Columbia University and was an expert in ethnology. He was also an actor and featured  in the stage play ‘Lost In The Stars’.

He visited nations such as India, Russia which at that time was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Jordan, Iran, Jordan, Israel and Australia using nothing but a motor-scooter popularly known as ‘Vespa’ and met with some of the most powerful people in the world. Personalities like Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who was Nigeria’s first prime minister, Marshal Ayub Khan of Pakistan, Golda Meir of Israel who was the first female prime minister, Makarios III of Cyprus, Jawarhalal Nehru of India, Nikita Khrushchev of the USSR, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was the Shah of Iran, Gamal Nasser of Egypt, General Ignatius Acheampong of Ghana, Odinga Oginga, former vice president of Kenya and some others. Ajala released a book titled ‘An African Abroad’ documenting all his experiences on the trip. In all, he visited over 85 countries with his scooter over a period of six years.

Ajala was a man of many women and had many children as a result of his romantic relations. A renowned globe-trotter and socialite, who put the nation on the world map, as he traversed the globe on his motor scooter.

He visited nearly all the eighty-seven countries ranging from Europe, through Africa and Asia. He observed many different political regimes both in democratic and communist states and met with brutality and racial intolerance, bitter evil of man's inhumanity to man, and marveled at the goodness of the humane-hearted.

Olabisi Ajala was an inspiring compatriot and the very personification of adventure. A pan-African voyager at a time when millions of Nigerian youths are utterly terrified of anything adventurous.

On his last days, Ajala suffered a stroke which paralysed his left limb and died on February 2, 1999. He lost his fame and died in penury. Olaolu and Bolanle were his only children who said their final goodbyes, his other wives and children were no where to be found.