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Rise And Fall Of Ajala The Traveler

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Ajala The Traveler

Ajala The Traveler

Ajala The Traveler

Luck rules our lives and what the future holds for us is certainly unknown to anyone, the best prayer we all should always have on our lips is that “May our future be better than our past”. Like the Yoruba’s would say -”Alejo l’owo”- meaning Money is a stranger, if you are chanced to have it, take good care of it like a lady fresh from puberty which means “Spend it wisely” because you don’t know what tomorrow holds.

Moshood Adisa Olabisi Ajala, popularly known as Ajala the traveller in his hey days, wanted to capture the world but was eventually consumed by his passion.I know many must have been hearing the name “Ajala The Traveller” but you do not know who and how he got the name. Chill while i take you through the life of this great man who was one of those that put Nigeria on World map.

Ajala The Traveler was born in 1934 in Ghana, into a Nigerian Polygamous home, of 30 Children and four wives. He was the 25th child of his father. They relocated back to Nigeria, when Olabisi was an infant and he had his secondary education, at the Baptist Academy, Lagos and the Ibadan, Boys High School, Ibadan.

 

At the age of 18, Olabisi proceeded to the United States of America, to further his education. In those days travelling abroad was easy. It was either USA or the United Kingdom. He was admitted into the university of Chicago as a pre-medical student whose dream was to become a medical doctor and return to medical practice in Nigeria cum to open people’s eyes to the fact that traditional medical practice is fetish as he detests the practice.

Not long after he got to the states, he seems to be interested in something else which seems to be bigger than Medicine to him, to become a traveller and perhaps, travel around the world. He abandoned medicine, for a street life. In 1952, he became an instant star, when he went on a lecture tour across the United States of America, with his bicycle and stunning Yoruba Agbada outfit, with a matching cap to fit.

 

He travelled from Chicago and covered about 2, 280 miles in 28 days, ending in Los- Angeles. The success of this trip, encouraged him to explore the world further and he became a self-appointed Nigeria’s cultural ambassador, to showcase Nigeria and educate Americans about the prospects in Nigeria and that Africans, then the whites thought Africans walk about naked or covered in leaves and loin clothes.

Ajala visited about 87 countries, with a Scooter Vespa motorcycle in six years. He visited countries such as Israel, India, Australia, Iran, Russia, Ghana, Cyprus, Egypt and so on, where he met some of the greatest leaders in the world, such as Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Niki Khrushchev of the USSR, Mohammed Ressa Shah Pahlavi of Iran. He had movie relationship with Ronald Reagan who later became president of America and visited Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the then Prime Minister of Nigeria and many more eminent people across the globe.

 

Ajala’s endeavour, exposed him to the world of movies. He featured in the movie- “White Witch Doctor”, produced by the 20th century fox motion picture with a bumper payment of 300 Dollars per week. He played the role of “Ola”- a companion of “Loni”, a famous African hunter, played by Roberts Mitshun. In 1955, he signed a movie contract with the Eagle Lion’s studio of Hollywood. He had several television appearances in impeccable African traditional attires. He was attractive, handsome and charismatic and he became an instant attraction, to so many women. His marital exploits, features different women across the globe.

 

The year 1953 was like a festering sore for Olabisi Ajala. He was arrested on the charges of forgery, grand theft and worthless cheque by the police. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, but rather claimed he was also duped by an ex banker- Arnold Weigner. The court sentenced Ajala to one-year jail term and immediate deportation after service of sentence. The sentence was aggravated for the fact that Ajala had abandoned his studies at the Santa Monica Junior College and the student Visa had been invalidated for lack of regular school attendance. Olabisi Ajala refused deportation and protested to the immigration authorities in the United States and that he would be killed by his father, if he was deported back to Nigeria on the grounds of tribal execution.

 

To make good his protest against this deportation order, he climbed an 80- Foot radio tower, where he screamed that he would jump rather to death than being deported. He protested on the tower for about 24 hours, turning deaf ears to the pleas of the immigration Authority and passers-by. He eventually caved in to the pleas, by scaling down from the high tower and jumping down from the heights of about 15 Feet. He was lucky to have sustained a sprained back. After the tower episode, he embarked on a strike, which he termed a 30-day Ramadan fasting, that he had to observe, as a devoted Muslim. Despite all these protests and desperate efforts to stay in America, Ajala was flown to London, instead of Nigeria. He had earlier wished to be flown to Canada, but the Canadian immigration, did not approve his application.

 

Ajala The Traveler in his mid-life, was an advertising and entertainment guru. He was a very notable publicist. He promoted the music of many Nigerian musicians, including Chief Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, with whom he later had a brawl where he sued Barrister to court. Ajala, as Ayinde’s music promoter, had helped Barrister to organise Media promotion and also played major roles in securing shows for Barrister. Ayinde Barrister, felt that Ajala was too exploitative, unbending on his numerous demands and bills. Ayinde Barrister, felt the only way he could extricate himself from Ajala’s numerous demands, was to wax an album, where he called Ajala fine bara (beggar).

Ajala The Traveler felt highly embarrassed, insulted and defamed by the “fine bara” album and also saw it as a huge damage to his integrity. Fine Bara, suddenly became his nickname. The innuendo was striking and direct. Ajala had to go to court to sue Barrister for defamation. Chief MKO Abiola, Chief Ebenezer Obey, Alhaji Buari Oloto and M. Ola Kassim, had to intervene, to mitigate the crises from further degeneration and an armistice was signed between the warring parties, as a cessation of hostility.

 

Ajala The Traveler, following this spirit of settlement, filed a notice of discontinuance in court and he withdrew his suit. Sooner thereafter, Ajala’s influence, popularity and fame began to wane. Olabisi Ajala could no longer sustain the life of opulence, showmanship and glamour. He had no building he could call his own and he had to relocate to a rented apartment in a two-storey building on Adeniran Street, Bariga, Lagos. To get to Ajala’s dingy apartment, you need to climb two stairs of the top floor and you would be confronted with the way life had treated this globe trotter.

 

Ajala suffered an irredeemable stroke. It was a yearlong sickness in pain, agony and melancholy. Alhaja Sade, who then lived in Ikotun, a suburb of Lagos and his numerous children scattered across the globe, could not save the situation, except Olaolu, who was then a teenager, then in Baptist Academy, Bariga, Lagos and Bolanle, who was also in secondary school tendered him. Ajala could not take adequate care of himself, because he had no money and the stroke became terribly worst and devastating until he breathed his last. The lesson learnt is that when fortune and opportunities smile on you, they must be held with a hand of steel and never allowed to slip off. Ajala perhaps, returned the smile with an unwelcoming and uncaring mien, and thus, a life that ended tragically on the 2nd of February, 1999, at the general hospital Ikeja Lagos, as a result of paralysis from stroke at the age of 65 years.

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