Travel Leisure

Former Ph.D. Student Set To Become First Black Woman To Drive From London To Lagos

Driving from Europe to Africa as a solo Black woman is one of the most courageous and awe-inspiring things a person can do. And Pelumi Nubi is doing just that. Pelumi, a former Ph.D. student who quit to travel the world on her terms, set off on a solo road trip from London, UK, to Lagos, Nigeria, in nothing else but her small and trusty purple Peugeot 107.

Daring to do Things Differently

Pelumi’s commitment to being daring and audacious will make her the first Black woman to finish such an adventure, inspired by Kunle Adeyanju’s comparable motorcycle journey. 

Pelumi Nubi - Barcelona Spain - Photo Credit Pelumi Nubi
Photo Credit: Pelumi Nubi

“I’m very much big know, not disqualifying yourself from opportunity, taking brave steps, and stepping out of your comfort zone,” Pelumi explains why she decided to go on the epic journey. ”I don’t think it was a one decision. Oh, I’m going to do it. I think it was like, slowly but surely, I was like, oh actually, I’m going to do this. And I think when you tell one or two or three people, sometimes they are like you’re crazy, and other people are looking at you like I don’t know what to do with you right now,” she adds with laughter. 

Pelumi’s primary goal is to share inspirational content centered around breaking free from societal expectations and the lessons learned along her route. “I really just wanted to show that it was possible. For one, I did not see enough representation as a black woman. I did not see enough people talking about this being done. With this travel, I’m trying to show that you can step out of your comfort zone”.

Connecting her two homes by road, she has set her eyes on reaching Nigeria’s largest city on March 26 after exploring 17 destinations across Europe and West Africa. Her planned route, which, as a solo traveler, may raise some fears in other women traveling alone, includes lesser-frequented places like Western Sahara and Mali and favorites like Ghana and Morocco. 

Making the Most of Everything

Pelumi has specially modified the car for the occasion, featuring a sleeping area and kitchen to allow her to camp in most countries. She now has the opportunity to shed light on stories from the communities she encounters, offering an angle rarely covered in the media by a West African woman.

Pelumi Nubi - Lamu Kenya- Photo Credit Pelumi Nubi
Photo Credit: Pelumi Nubi

“I wanted to change that narrative of leading with fear and just more of a positive output of okay; this is what I’m looking to do. I’m using my Peugeot 107, a small engine car. It is tiny, but this is all I had, and I couldn’t afford a 4×4. I think sometimes you just need to use what you have. I’m not being careless. A lot went into planning this trip, so I’m not putting my car on the road just like that; that wasn’t the case, but I’m making good use of what I had”. 

Living Life on One’s Own Terms

The journey is about self-exploration as much as it is about the miles driven. Pelumi, who left her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences early with mixed feelings, sees the trip as a reminder that she can live life how she chooses and finish hard things in the process. 

“Because of the pandemic, the lab had to shut down, which meant I lost years of research. It was a really, really difficult time for me because a lot of work had been put into these. So I got to a point, like everybody kind of, in terms of what is really important to me. I think 2020 was the year we all asked that question, and traveling was that thing that always tugged at my heart. So that’s how the PhD kind of ended. That chapter closed because of the pandemic,” she explains.

Pelumi Nubi - Kenya Photo Credit Pelumi Nubi
Photo Credit: Pelumi Nubi

“But skills are transferable, and I’ve taken that knowledge, that kind of curiosity researching new places because this London to Lagos took a lot of research. I was looking at group forums, talking to people who have done similar things, and trying to find a safe path for me as a solo traveler.”

More Than Just A Drive

Pelumi, who has traveled to 80 countries over 6 continents and spent a year preparing for this road trip, revealed that it has been full of memorable encounters, cultural immersions, and personal growth so far.

“This is not just a drive. If I were going just to drive it would have been done in like three weeks you know. It’s about cultural immersion, it’s enough time to explore the place and speaking to locals. In Marrakech I was able to connect with creators. That’s one thing I want to do on this trip to connect with creatives and hopefully be able to produce short movies. I always tell people like it’s the destination is great but the people that live in the destination are always better for me you know. I find that’s always the thing that captivates me.” 

For real-time updates on her journey, follow Pelumi Nubi on InstagramTikTok, or Twitter, or subscribe to her newsletter, The Inner Circle.

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