Cycling across Africa on a whim and prayer

With little to his name, a young Moroccan man is cycling the world with only his faith and the goodwill of people. Ismail Suder caught up with him in Durban.

When 26-year-old Adil Boudraa of Morocco told his family and friends that he was travelling across Africa alone on a bicycle, they thought he had lost his mind.

The unemployed engineer left his small home town of Ville de Kenitra 16-months-ago with only the barest of necessities – and his absolute faith in Allah – to take him on the adventure of his dreams.
During his stop in Durban, he was warmly welcomed by members of the local Muslim community who provided him with gracious hospitality that included accommodation, medical attention, camping and cycling equipment, a Gro-Pro camera and cash to help him on his onwards journey to Egypt.

On Wednesday, he was given a rousing farewell by his host, Imran Bobat, of the adventure, hiking and corporate team building company, Rocks & Roots (Pty) Limited, from Moses Mabhida Stadium. Members of the group also cycled alongside Adil for the first 5km of his 15 000km journey.
Adil’s hosts also encouraged him to take his trip to another level by providing him with the meaning of the Kalima in the top eight African languages so that he could principally become an ambassador of the Deen in the jungles and cities of Africa.

Travelling along the East Coast of Africa, his journey will take him to Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, possibly Somalia, Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia for Umrah and the across the Middle East. “And if Allah wills, my plan is to cycle to the rest of the world.” he told Al Qalam.

Al Qalam caught up with this modern-day Ibn Battuta at the Marian Bee Sultan Centre in Overport where he was hosted by Imran Bobat of Rocks and Roots in association with Islamic Forum in a riveting “fireside chat.”
Part of his inspiration to see the world, came from the famous 13th Century Moroccan Islamic scholar and explorer, Ibn Battuta who left Tangier for an initial 16 month journey to perform his Haj in Arabia – but the ancient explorer decided to continue his journey to other parts of the world, returning to Morocco some 22 years later.
Guests at the gathering listened with awe and fascination as Adil regaled them with his incredible experiences – and about the many good folks that he met along the way.

With just R3 600 in his pocket for the world trip, Adil said he realized early on in his cycling adventure that the meager amount was insufficient, and that his faith in Allah alone would help him achieve his ambitions.
“There were days that I survived on just mangoes that I plucked, but most of the time, I depended on the Almighty through the hospitality of the people in poor villagers who provided me with simple food and a safe place to set up my little tent,” he said.

Apart from one instance where he was detained by primitive jungle tribes, he had never been physically harmed by any one.

The only problem that he faced was becoming sick from Malaria and being hospitalised. And on two occasions, he was detained in prison. The first was in Niger where he spent five days in jail for travelling in a no-go area close to the border with Nigeria – a hot-bed of Boko Haraam activity.

The second detention for two days happened in Zambia because he did not have visas. In both countries, he slept in deplorable conditions with over 300 prisoners, but said he took the experience in his stride as part of the adventure. “While in detention, I kept the prisoners entertained by teaching them kick-boxing techniques,” Adil added.

There was light banter at the Durban event when Imran (Bobat) asked him whether he was crazy to undertake such a risky journey with little if no preparation, he replied: “Not crazy. I’m just doing what I love,” he said with a smile.

Dozens of photographs featured in his Facebook page, was beamed onto a screen at the event. The photos showed him in remote locations, and often times in the company of locals. Because of poor road conditions, he had to push his bike for almost 300km of his journey.

There was no good or bad country in his book. “Every country has its own charm.” South Africa, though, was exceptionally beautiful,” he added.

Adil says he has no plans to return to Morocco anytime soon. The freedom of the road, and the many hundreds of well-wishers along the journey, is what fuels his pedals.

When Imran suggested jokingly that perhaps he should find a wife that shared his interests so both could travel together, Adil was caught off guard by the remark. “Er, Insha…” he said with a stutter, but shied away from completing the dua.

“No, No, No…. I want to do this alone for now,” he said before breaking into laughter.”
*You can track his cycling adventures on his Facebook called “Adil Traveler.”

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