Written by Ugwu Wilson Uche
António Pedro Oliveira Moreira, a Portuguese has embarked on the journey to tour Africa on Bicycle. Just like Portuguese explorer Prince Henry, known as the Navigator, who was the first European to methodically explore Africa and the oceanic route to the Indies. From his residence in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, he directed successive expeditions to circumnavigate Africa and reach India. In 1420, Henry sent an expedition to secure the uninhabited but strategic island of Madeira. Notwithstanding, several other attempts were made in opening up the then untapped continent, Africa which made several other Portuguese explorers progressing through Eastern to Western coast of Africa. These attempts took them to Cape Bojador in 1434 and Cape Blanco in 1441, island of Arguin in the modern day Mauritania, Sudan through to Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Bissau, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone.
For António Pedro Oliveira Moreira, this mission is not for territorial acquisition or a conquest but was borne out of his passion to realize his lifelong dream of going round the world with a view of exploring cultures, peoples and places.
His perception of his world has been reinforced by this first-hand knowledge based on direct interaction and experience. His sojourn in Nigeria brings to mind the rich cultural heritage of Nigeria and rekindles a new spirit which contrasts concerns about insurgency, decaying infrastructures, kidnapping, corruption, looting of treasury, HIV/Aids Scourge and most recently, Ebola.
It also raises the hope once again that Africa and Nigeria in particular is so much more than the bad news and the challenges facing it. It also retells the story of the constantly smiling people, the epic scenery, the spicy food, the stories of legend and magic, the unwavering hospitality, the rich natural heritage, the colourful clothes, the electrically charged atmosphere, the acceptance of who you are and so on that are hallmarks of a true Nigerian spirit.
Antonio left Portugal his home country in February 2014 to transverse the length and breadth of Africa on Bicycle. In his words, “This trip has been absolutely fantastic, so far. Having the opportunity to meet people from different cultures who do things differently is all I want in LIFE. I believe the more I know about someone else, about other cultures and other ways, the more I can grow as a person, walking towards that goal of being a tolerant person who understands that in many aspects and with its due exceptions, right and wrong are relative terms that reside in the eye of the beholder. If I have anything close to a mission, this is it: To understand. And then take this understanding home and share it with whoever wants to know, through a book that I intend writing, as I did in 2013, concerning my trip to Asia”. He arrived Nigeria through the borders in Ogun State on the Thursday 4th of September 2014 having gone through Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin.
His experience has been to say least- EXTRAORDINARY. For him, the western media has been very unfair with their reporting of Africa. In his words, “In the West, many times we live in a culture of fear. We are told by biased tv channels where it is safe to go and where it is not. I challenged that and ventured into places that are supposedly dangerous and find out, almost all the time, that these places are nothing but towns, cities or countries with good people that want to live their LIFE the best way they can, just like anyone else. I understand I have been to countries where the Ebola virus was present. However, I have never come in contact with anyone who suffered from this illness and also it has been a few months since I left those areas and I remain healthy”.
Now in Nigeria, he will be travelling through Lagos, Ijebu-ode, Benin, Enugu, Bayelsa, Uyo and finally Calabar before departing to Cameroon. While here, he will be guest to some media houses, Government Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations and many others. In Lagos, he was a guest to a programme on Galaxy TV and LoveWorld Plus Television where he gave a detailed account of his adventure. Guests who called in from all parts of our country were thrilled by this venture and his experience. To us, this is one great opportunity to redefine our perception and to tell the world how “GOOD PEOPLE and GREAT NATION” we are!!!