OlongoAfrica to Republish “An African Abroad”
Mashood Ọlábísí Àjàlá’s wild ride of a life began on a bicycle. In 1952, the Nigerian writer, then 22 years old, biked for 2,280 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles; his 28-day journey was featured in newspaper reports, attracting the notice of many notables. That July, Àjàlá, described in newspaper reports as “personable,” lectured at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Los Angeles and the Orchid Club’s Sunday Morning Breakfast; he met then-actor Ronald Reagan, who helped him break into the movies.
Àjàlá’s private life in America featured multiple trysts, courtroom dramas, a climb to the top of a 90-foot tower, and eventual deportation, all added to his myth. Eventually, he would travel around the world, meeting Nikita Krushchev, Golda Meier, The Shah of Iran, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Jawaharlal Nehru.
An African Abroad, Àjàlá’s 1963 memoir, went out of print in the 60s, and has never been reprinted–until now. In collaboration with his Australian family, this literary classic will be available again, this summer of 2022, to fans of travel writing and global politics, and young Africans eager to get a glimpse of the 60s world through the eyes of a restless Nigerian adventurer.
This arresting book is both an important historical document, and an invaluable travel diary: Readers are invited to join the author on a scooter ride across the Israel-Jordan border, break a security cordon to shake hands with Krushchev, and press Meier about the fate of the Palestinians.
The new edition will include a preface by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún and a new introduction by his former wife, Joane Àjàlá (nee Pratten), who married Ọlábísí in the late 60s, and was the first editor of the book’s early manuscript.
The book will be available in all global markets.