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Riding to Fight Polio, From London to Lagos

Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group and the World Health Organisation (WHO), notes that 1 in 200 polio infections will result in permanent paralysis. 

Kunle Adeyanju

People living in areas with limited access to running water or flush toilets often contract polio from drinking water contaminated by infected human waste. The virus is so contagious that anyone living with someone who has the virus can catch it too.  Sometimes it can transmit through a sneeze or a cough, as the virus lives in the throat and intestines. 

In a campaign to curb the spread of this deadly virus and completely eradicate it from society, Kunle Adeyanju left London for Lagos on his bike on the 19th of April with the intentions to raise funds for Rotary International to support the fight against polio. After 41 days, 13 countries and 13,000 kilometres later, Kunle Adeyanju arrived in Lagos.

“I am sleep-deprived because I slept only three to four hours per night. But I feel proud because I accomplished this challenge,” Adeyanju told AFP just after he arrived, wiping sweat off his face. Heralded by a dozen bikers for the last stretch of the journey from Benin Republic, the group was welcomed by supporters in Ikeja, in central Lagos.

Kunle, who is also called “Lion Heart” by fans, became popular by posting daily pictures with comments of his journey on social media. Going from only three followers on Twitter a few months ago, he now has almost 100,000 followers, catching the attention of Twitter CEO,  Parag Agrawal who sent in a congratulatory tweet.

The funds generated from his adventure will go for charity with 20% dedicated to the End polio now campaign. “If you look at the issue of polio, we need to get rid of it, Adeyanju said. We have the technology, we have the vaccine, so we can do it. The point is, why are people not doing it, why have we not been able to do it? It is all about awareness.”

Kunle Adeyanju intends to write a book chronicling the details of his 41 days trip across 13 countries.

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