An African Abroad: Olabisi Ajala

Summary: 

When he’s not breaking through security to shake the hands of Nikita Khrushchev, he is crashing his scooter through a border between Jordan and Israel in the then partitioned Jerusalem, amidst a hail of gunfire, escaping an assassination attempt in Jordan, or dodging the bullets of eager security agents around the Duke of Edinburgh in Sydney. When he’s not trying ‘African ju-ju’ on pretty Russian girls, he’s enjoying a tense audience with Golda Meir in Israel and hobnobbing with Fúnmiláyọ̀ Ransome-Kútì in Moscow. One-man daredevil-traveller, Mashood Ọlábísí Àjàlá saw and did it all, and lived to tell the tale. Now back in print, for the first time since 1963, here are the travel tales of his trip around Europe, the Middle East, and Australia as told by the author himself, with a preface by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún and a foreword by Joane Àjàlá.

This fully annotated edition of “An African Abroad” includes:

  • Explanations of historical context, literary comments, and background analyses
  • Foreword by Joan Ajala, with whom the author had three children, and who edited the original manuscript of “An African Abroad”.
  • An abridged biography of the author.

_____

This is the extraordinary story of a Nigerian journalist’s travels around the world in the mid-twentieth century, an entertaining and sometimes breathtaking account of his bold adventures, and a fascinating insight into the global politics of the time. Travelling across Asia, the Middle East and Australia, Àjàlá recounts his meetings with world leaders, everyday people, and Africans in the global diaspora, as well as his daredevil border crossings on his scooter, and his encounters with racism, assault and police mistreatment. This important new edition opens An African Abroad up to a whole new generation of readers, and means it can rightly take its place as a classic work in the canon of African travel literature.

– Rebecca Jones

It is a travel book. But it is much more than that… it is more than mere journalism… it is more than a polemical dissertation. As he travels back and forth across the continents on the two wheels of his motor-scooter, the author skillfully describes to us the psychologies and the sociology of the fascinating individuals and groups he meets.”

– Tom J. Mboya

“Àjàlá travelled all over the world”

– Ebenezer Obey

“Long before all those theories of migrancy, movement, errantry, deracination, cosmopolitanism, diaspora, borderlands, contact zones, globalisation, flows became compulsory menu items for graduate students in Departments of English all over the world, this Yorùbá man was already a human canvass of all that jazz…”

Pius Adésanmí

a template for many travel writers and journalists, like myself, as both a kind of guiding light for what is possible, and a documented record of a time when African writers didn’t seek permission to exist in the world as equally valid witness to history.

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún

 

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