Masobe Books and Olongo Africa are reviving a Nigerian travel memoir classic. An African Abroad is the delightful, hilarious, and unbelievably wild adventures of Moshood Ọlábísí Àjàlá during his famous trip around the world—on his vespa! The publication date is set for October 2022.
Àjàlá, who “claims to be the first man to circumnavigate the globe on a Vespa,” regaled Nigerian readers with travel stories filled with adventure and social commentary. He was born in Ghana and grew up in Lagos. His life as a world-renown traveler began in the 1950s when he moved to the US for university education. Abandoning school, he biked for 28 days from Chicago to Los Angeles, a feat that caught the attention of the city’s mayor. He eventually set out to travel the world from London. During the trip, he met world leaders and celebrities, had run-ins with the police, had his fair share of romantic encounters, and went on to document these experiences in An African Abroad. The book was originally published in 1963 by Jarrolds UK, but it caught the attention of readers back home in Nigeria—earning Ajala celebrity status.
In a press statement, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, who is a Nigerian writer, linguist, and publisher at Olongo Africa , expressed excitement at introducing the book to a new generation of readers:
I’ve been obsessed with Àjàlá’s story for a very long time. His influence on African travel writing is undeniably large, and his story immensely fascinating. I’m ecstatic about this chance to get the work back into circulation after many decades of scarcity, and to work with his family in doing so…I look forward to seeing Ọlábísí Àjàlá take back his place in the minds of a new generation of readers of (African) travel writing.
An African Abroad, in spite of its cultural impact in the ’60s and ’70s, has been out of print for decades. This re-issue is long over due and is being spearheaded by Nigerian indie press Masobe Books and literary cultural platform Olongo Africa.
Read the full synopsis below
When Ajala is not escaping an assassination attempt and dodging the bullets of eager security agents around the Duke of Edinburgh in Sydney, he is crashing his scooter, amid a hail of gunfire, through a border between Jordan and Israel—or he is cutting through security to shake the hands of Nikita Khrushchev. And when Ajala is not trying ‘African ju-ju’ on pretty Russian girls, he is enjoying a tense audience with Golda Meir in Israel and hobnobbing with Fúnmiláyọ̀ Ransome-Kútì in Moscow. The Original One-Man Daredevil-Traveller, Moshood Ọlábísí Àjàlá saw it all, did it all, and lived to tell the tale. Now back in print for the first time since 1963, here are the travel stories of his trips around Europe, the Middle East, and Australia as told by the man himself. This new edition comes with a preface by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún and a foreword by Joane Àjàlá.
Stay tuned for more details, including buying options.