Just Human

June 20, 2009

How we rode from Holland to Nigeria — Dutch Bikers

By Ola Ajayi

Dennis and Feils, Dutchmen, left Neitherland on the 15th of March and arrived Nigeria about ten weeks after, traveling  through 18 countries in Sub-saharan Africa.

Saturday Vanguard met them at Ibadan where they had a short stay before setting out again, they spoke on their experience and how they rode on motorcycle to Nigeria.

What are your preparations before the journey?
We really had to prepare ourselves for the journey. The bikes are bout 10 years old. We did a lot things by ourselves. We put a large tank that would cover much distance. We did so many things on the bikes like the break pads and some other things because these bikes are not common in many other countries we traveled to and so, we had to make some spare parts ourselves.


What prompted you to embark on this type of journey?
We bought two motorcycles in India ten years ago then we said to each other that there is need to seize one opportunity in a life time and we started. We discussed and we ended up wanting to go to Capetown in Africa. That was how the big story began from that moment on. When we started, we just really wanted to go for it.

We left the Netherlands on the 15th March, 2009 and slowly, we started to move Southwest and now we are in Nigeria already half-way. There was no time to plan. We just wanted to be in Nigeria.

Where did you take off?
We took off from Netherlands and then to Morocco to Senegal and from there to Burkina Faso, Mauritania to Ghana and to Benin and from there to Nigeria.

What are your challenges on the road?
Of course we had some challenges  on the way but we tackled them. One day, we had seven flat tyres. So, we had to repair the tyres ourselves. We are mechanics and as such any mechanical problems would be solved by us.

Sometimes, you fall over and you have to pick up your bike. Those are the small challenges we had. Our people told us that it was a dangerous venture we wanted to embark upon.

At times we take off around 6am in the morning and when the sun goes down we stop. We didn’t really have any problem with the police. Sometimes, they stop us and delayed us for about one hour. And sometimes, they wanted to know where we were coming from and where we were going.

Actually, we encountered some problems but they are minor problems and we solved them. We are careful too and we don’t do crazy things. So far, we are safe and our loved ones should not bother themselves.

Did Police demand  money from you?
We have traveled over 20,000 kilometres.  At times, police would stop us on the way and would want to get money from us. But we were not able to meet their demand.

How did your families react when you set out for this journey?
They warned us that it is very dangerous to go to Nigeria. They said there are too many dangerous things on the road. They love us and they care about us. They were worried because of crime rate, mechanical failure, robbery but we decided to go even though our loved ones warned us.

So what is your feelings about Nigeria?
We believe Nigeria is not dangerous at all. It is not dangerous than any other place in the world. Nigerians are very open people and the country is very beautiful. We are having a very nice time here.

Nigeria is big country and in big countries, there are usually some problems.  There is no problem here. People just cry and make the whole country unsafe. Nigeria is so big. It is bigger than our own country which is about 200 kilometers length and breadth. One day you can drive round.

How are feeding on the road?
We have our own food. We have done a lot of food camping in the desert. We can make our own food.

Where next?
From here we move to Cameroon. We want to it and from there to Gabon, Congo, Angola and then down to Cape Town.

How many countries have you visited in Africa?
It would be between 18 and 20 countries. I’m not very sure.

How much have you spent so far since you embarked on this journey?

The money we budgeted for traveling is about  8,000 Euro. At times, we have to repair our bikes.

If you were a Nigerian, what would you ask the government to do?
That is a very difficult question because we have traveled to a lot of countries in Africa. Nigeria has a lot of tarred roads.

The only thing is that the roads should be repaired immediately they may start breaking up  if you wait a little longer, you may have big holes and the roads would be bad. But because we use motorcycles, we don’t have much problem.

Are you married?
No, if I’m married, do you think our wives would allow us to travel this far?

Do you communicate with your people?
Yes, we communicate with them through internet.

Advice to youths
Just keep focused. Anybody can do this. When you believe you can do something, go ahead and do it and if you believe you cannot do it, then go back. When your bike gets spoilt on the way, what do you do?  Any problem can be overcome.  There are times when your bike would break down and you get tired. Do you go back? No, we have to continue because we are focused.

How long have the two of you been friends?

For about six years. We went to the same university.