By Kunle Adeyanju, Rotary Club Ikoyi Metro A.M, Lagos, Nigeria
Nothing worth accomplishing has ever been achieved effortlessly. And this was certainly true of my amazing road trip from London to Lagos on my motorbike to raise awareness for End Polio Now and raise funds for Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio. The road trip passed through desert, freezing cold, stunning forest landscapes, and across some of the remotest part of the earth.
I enjoy the outdoors. I already have some rugged adventures under my belt, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro twice in 2008 and 2009 to raise funds for HIV AIDS orphans in Africa. I’ve also jet skied the Indian Ocean, skydived, bungee jumped, and rode a bicycle from Lagos Nigeria to Ghana and back. I took on the later because I wanted something that would challenge me and stretch my limit. When I completed that one, I realized I needed an even tougher challenge, and the idea for #londontolagos was born.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a bit of a pause on my pursuit of this adventure, but in 2021 planning began. It took me a year to select the right motorbike, learn how to repair the bike, assembly necessary tools and accessories, plan out the route, and create an itinerary of stops along the way. I had 6,000 points of interest on my map. I also had to contact police departments for security arrangements and identify hospitals, gas stations, emergency services, and hotels along the way.
Polio eradication is personal to me. When I was a child, my best friend had polio. He couldn’t join us in many of the things that kids normally do because of the limitations he suffered from the disease. I watched the pain he endured, and how it limited him his entire life. Sadly, he passed away two years ago. At that time, I resolved that I would use this ride to create awareness and raise funds for Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign.
During my ride, I shared my experiences and posted photos on social media. I was able to get our End Polio Now message onto screens and mobile devices around the world through Twitter and other social media platforms. I enjoyed tremendous support and cooperation from Rotarians along the way, as members came out in large numbers to welcome me and accompany me on scheduled meetings with World Health Organization authorities, Ministers of Health, and government officials. I had the opportunity to visit PolioPlus field offices in several countries, where I met the volunteers who are vaccinating children against this disease and spreading valuable information. I even joined them on some of their campaigns.
I rode 3,100 kilometers (1,900 miles) from London to Algeciras, Spain, and after a ferry ride across the Strait of Gibraltar, about 9,000 kilometers (5,600 miles) across Africa, from the northern coast to west Africa, passing through cities, towns, hamlets, and lonely and isolated stretches. This gave me the opportunity to experience Africa in a unique way, witnessing first-hand the hospitality, generosity, friendliness, warmth, and diversity of the African people. Everywhere you go there is always something to learn and discover.
So what will I do next? I have two projects in mind. I will be riding through the country of Zimbabwe in South Africa to draw attention to End Polio Now in August and I am hoping that Rotary members in that country will join me in elevating our message. After that, I will be spending the next two years planning a ride from Lagos to Israel, and from Israel to the Tibetan plain. Once there, I plan to attempt to summit Mount Everest.