In Nigerian tribal dialects, “Oyibo” is used to refer to a “white man” (or a person of Caucasian descent), and it is the title of the African travel journal by Ana Hogaş and Ionuţ Florea, a couple of Romanian architects who, in 2001, left their jobs and put their careers aside, and embarked on the experience of their lifetime, without looking back. Two people, one motorbike, fourteen months in 22 African countries. Oyibo was the first leg of their wider nomadic adventure, Into The World.
“Some people are so poor that all they have is money”, says an African proverb.
Oyibo is written with the soul, it is a very intimate depiction of Africa, and illustrated with the travellers’ own photographs taken throughout their journey. You feel that you are experiencing the real Africa along with the two riders, with the good and the bad, with its beauties and dangers, with its wilderness and wild colonialism (and now emerging capitalism), welcoming and intimidating, colourful, diverse, rooted in traditions and eager for the new. Ana and Ionuţ didn’t just take a trip to Africa, they discovered it by road, and lived it with their entire beings: they had perfect days that felt great, and tough days that felt even more rewarding, they slept in the tent and sometimes in the homes of the warm people they met in their way, worked as volunteers in the Nigerian Ecuatorial forrest, crossed the Sahara on 54 degrees Celsius, got sick, made friends, and ate from the same plate with the locals. They fell in love with Africa, but maybe they fell even more in love with exploring their wild hearts.
This is a book that makes you want to reevaluate your life and lifestyle, connect or reconnect with nature and people (who may not speak your language), open your eyes, take a leap of faith (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a trip around the world, but whatever would make your heart beat faster and happier), and walk that extra mile (off-road). Oyibo is also the perfect companion for any trip you may take – so it was on my latest, the first thing I put in my travel bag. It appears that the book will be soon published in English, too, which makes me glad, because it deserves to reach a bigger audience – although I have the feeling I would miss Ana’s captivating, spirited and playful storytelling in Romanian. In the meanwhile, you can read about the couple’s adventures on their blog, Into The World.
photo by me