Kunle Adeyanju (a.k.a Lionheart) is an entrepreneur and avid adventurer who takes bliss in performing all kinds of challenging or barrier-breaking acts. He has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice and cycled from Lagos to Accra within three days.
His latest adventure, which had the internet space agog, was completing his daredevil cross-continental bike trip from London to Lagos. The journey was jointly inspired by his love for adventure and the need to raise charity money for his EndPolio Campaign in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Ikoyi, Lagos. He completed the journey in 41 days.
Mr Adeyanju travelled 12,000km through 11 countries, and of this number, 9,000km covered Africa, where he had hair-raising moments and experienced the natural beauty of the African hinterlands. Here’s a recap of some short adventurous moments and cultural experiences Kunle had during the journey.
Navigating the Tizi n’Tchika
The Tizi n’Tichka is a high mountain pass on The Atlas mountain. The pass sits between the great Marrakech Plains and the gateway of the Sahara Desert. Tizi n’Tichka means “difficult mountain pasture” in the Berber Language, and it certainly fits because the pass has many switchbacks and over 800 turns. In his interview with CNN Travels, Mr Adeyanju purportedly said’ “It takes about an hour and 30 minutes to ride a mountain pass. And I can tell you it is one of the most difficult one hour 30 minutes of my life.”
The Tizi n’Tichka pass is considered the most dangerous road in Africa. You can head straight into the ravine if you take your eyes off the road for one second. But like many mountain roads, you will not regret the landscapes you can see from the road, especially at the summit and on the way down to the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate. “But you know, after going through all that pressure, when you get to the peak of The Atlas mountain… the reward of the view is more than all the pressure you’ve gone through to get there.”
The Sahara Experience
The ride from Morocco to Mauritania through the western Sahara region was the most challenging part of the ride for Mr Adeyanju. The western Sahara is a disputed region deep in the Sahara desert. It is sparsely populated and consists primarily of desert flatlands, which means extreme climatic conditions.
Apart from enduring the scorching heat of the Sahara, the fine sand blowing through the strong winds felt like needles trying to poke through the heavy gears he had on him. He was constantly fighting against being blown off his motorcycle. Riding through the Sahara was challenging; he thought he had reached the limit at some point. Adeyanju tweeted, “The Sahara is an unforgiving environment, and the margin for error here is practically nil. The Sahara is tough, harsh, dry, hot, windy, dusty, and also cold. In the day, it is extremely hot, but at night it can be quite cold.”
However, the experience was eye-opening as it taught him a valuable lesson on the importance of developing strong willpower and refining one’s passion.” The Sahara will humble you and change your looks and your attitude towards life. This was my experience on my six-day transit through the Sahara Desert!”
The Unpleasant State of Mauritania
Unfortunately, the only unpleasant human interaction moments Mr Adeyanju had during the journey happened in Mauritania. He was fraudulently charged for purchases and services, which gave him a bad impression of the country. He also experienced forced extortion from border security, which made him reconsider visiting the country. In a tweet, he stated, “For me, Mauritania is not a country I ever want to visit again for anything. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s next to hell.”
Celebrating Africa’s Hospitality and Generosity
Initially, due to security concerns, Mr Adeyanju had left out Mali and Burkina Faso from his journey plan. Before commencing his journey, he read about both countries as dangerous destinations in the CIA world factbook. However, he changed his mind and ventured into both countries despite the advice not to. What he experienced made him think deeply about Africa.
Having had a tyre incident in a remote part of Mali at night, he went to a nearby settlement to seek help. The inhabitants understood him despite Adeyanju not speaking the local language or French, and they followed him to the incident scene to recover his bike. This genuine hospitality was displayed despite the economic sanctions meted on them by the regional geopolitical community (ECOWAS). The varied everyday culture of Malians reflects the country’s rich cultural diversity and hospitality. Indeed the term Mali which means “The place where the king lives.”, lives up to its name.
A similar hospitable trait was displayed in Burkina Faso when a fruit seller flagged him down and offered him mangos. “I can tell you all from a first-hand experience that Africa is beautiful. It is a land of diversity, a land of unique and interesting culture, a land where everywhere you step, there is always something to learn and something beautiful and exciting to experience.”
The media mostly paint negative pictures about Africa, affecting how the continent is portrayed. To see and feel the real African beauty, one has to experience it first-hand. Mr Adeyanju launched Think Africa, a campaign he plans on implementing on his next vacation to counter negative impressions about the continent. There’s definitely a need to rethink Africa.
In the future, he plans to ride from London to Israel, hike the Tibetan plains and attempt Mount Everest.