Pelumi Nubi, First Black Woman to Trek from London to Lagos, Says to Step into the Unknown


Happy Monday, readers, writers, and shark fans! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and have been enjoying this February that’s just swimming right on by!

I’ve always enjoyed Motivation Monday posts, but my favorite ones are stories that show us something being put into practice that might have felt impossible before. And Pelumi Nubi is no exception.

A former Ph.D. student who left her studies behind to travel the world on her terms instead, Pelumi Nubi decided to celebrate her family’s various points of origin by doing something no other Black woman has ever done. She decided to connect her two points of origin—London, UK and Lagos, Nigeria—by completing a 10,000 km (6,213 miles) solo drive from London to Lagos.

“I want to break barriers and challenge the narrative of what’s possible, especially as a solo Black female traveller. With courage and determination, my journey from London to Lagos shows that the roads less travelled can lead to the most extraordinary destinations.”


Gearing up to be the first Black woman to complete such a journey, Pelumi is bridging her two homes together by visiting 17 destinations in just two months. She’ll complete the trek in nothing other than her small and trusty purple Peugeot 107.

Pelumi has specially modified the car for the occasion, now featuring a sleeping area and kitchen, to allow her to camp in most of the countries she’ll be visiting and exploring.

“The journey is larger than myself. I want to represent anyone who has dreams but is doubtful. You can dare to step into the unknown – it’s the only way we get to connect with ourselves and inspire others.”


Spanning over 10,000 km, Pelumi’s commitment to being bold and audacious is anticipated to make her the first Black woman to complete such an expedition, drawing inspiration from Kunle Adeyanju’s similar journey by motorbike. Her primary goal is to share inspirational content centered around breaking free from societal expectations and the lessons learned along her route.

Connecting her two homes by road, Pelumi 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 includes lesser-frequented places like Western Sahara and Mali, along with favorites like Ghana and Morocco.

Her complete itinerary includes the United Kingdom; France; Spain; Morocco; Western Sahara; Mauritania; Senegal; The Gambia; Guinea-Bissau; Guinea; Sierra Leone; Mali; Burkina Faso; Ghana; Ivory Coast; Togo; Benin; and Nigeria.

“I’m on a quest for personal growth and cultural connection. By the end of my journey, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of my heritage but also the world. I want to shape global narratives through my own lens while inspiring others to start their own journeys of exploration and discovery.”


Pelumi 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.

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. With her travel experience spanning 80 countries across 6 continents and a year of dedicated preparation, Pelumi seeks to inspire others by encouraging them to push their comfort zones – mirroring the personal growth she continues to embrace.

Please continue reading for our exclusive interview with Pelumi Nubi and our unique travel reading list.

Interview with Pelumi Nubi

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (MLT): I love the concept of you collecting stories from all the places you visit during this journey. How do you envision “using” them after your journey? Writing a book, creating content, etc.? 

Pelumi Nubi (PN): Absolutely! I’m already buzzing with ideas on how to bring the stories to life. For example, I would love to create a coffee table book that opens a window to the incredible destinations I’ve been blessed to visit. The book will also be an invitation to relive the journeys alongside me from the comfort of your living room. The way I document my stories is working in real-time too; although it’s a solo trip, it’s striking a chord with various communities online and inspiring them to set off on their adventures. I also see this journey making it to the big screen as a film or a TV programme dedicated to overland travel — this is a dream I’m keen to make a reality.

MLT: What is your favourite story you’ve heard on your trip so far? What was its significance to the place from which it originated? 

PN: I’m at the beginning of this particular trip, but I’ve also come across so many fascinating stories. One that stands out is from a gentleman I met in Millau, France. I visited the area to visit a famous bridge, but the real story was meeting this local man, deeply rooted in his village. He shared stories of his childhood with me, which were filled with days on the river and his fascination with the sky. He used to gaze upwards to stare at what he thought were tiny magical beings, which he later realised were people paragliding. He was so inspired that he committed to learning the skill. Now, he paraglides up to ten times a day during peak season. He spoke with such passion about his love for paragliding and how each flight feels that I decided to try it out for myself. 

MLT: What do you plan to do next? Where is your content, and your heart, leading you? 

PN: One dream close to my heart is becoming a spokesperson for dyslexia; I’m passionate about raising awareness for people who feel sidelined by society for not fitting into the ‘norm’ and empowering children and women. I’m hoping my content will lead me to stages like TEDx and other leading conferences, not just to inspire but to provide tools to help others achieve what they once thought was impossible. For now, my focus is on sharing this journey authentically, in all its beauty and challenges.

MLT: I love that you modified your car for this journey. How do you envision using it after this trip? Other specific journeys, living in it, etc.? 

PN: I haven’t finalised the exact plans for my car post-trip, but one thing is for sure: I see a future packed with more road trips. 

MLT: What advice would you give to students who also wish to travel someday? How did you decide on your particular PhD/travel path? 

PN: The first step for students who also wish to travel someday is a mindset shift. Recognise that travel is vital to your growth and not a ‘nice-to-have’. Commit to it. Actively save, cut unnecessary expenses, and make travel a priority. It’s an experience that will continue to enrich your life and a gift that you should always be grateful for. Don’t overlook what your university offers. I participated in the Global Leadership Program, which took me to India at a fraction of the cost, thanks to university contributions. Look for programmes and exchange opportunities that can help you explore the world more. Also, travel doesn’t have to mean you jet off to far destinations: start local and explore a neighbouring city. True travel is about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new regardless of the distance. In terms of my studies, I’ve always wanted to contribute meaningfully to humanity so pursuing a PhD in cancer research and human genetics was a natural fit. But over time, there was a persistent pull towards travel and how empowered I felt as a result. It became my mission to redefine the narrative around travel and be a visible example that others could relate to and be inspired by. Combining my love for both was a natural progression, as the problem-solving and analytical skills honed during my PhD have proven invaluable on the road.

MLT: What is one moment from this journey that you wish you could experience for the first time again? What did it teach you? 

PN: It was the moment I crossed into Morocco. I can’t quite explain the feeling, but I was overwhelmed with emotion. This moment gave me a sense of triumph over my own doubts. Crossing the English Channel into France had been familiar territory, but Spain into Morocco was something I had not done before. This part of my journey had me filled with anxiety as I had the information, but it wasn’t clear, so it left me with more questions than answers. But all the tension melted away as soon as I crossed the border and stepped onto the African continent. It signified all my frustrations, self-doubt, and a year of preparation, but also the joy of surpassing them. It also reminded me of the good old lesson: sometimes, you just need to take that first step.

About Pelumi Nubi

Photo Credit: Pelumi Nubi

PELUMI NUBI is a purpose-driven travel content creator and connector who thrives on exploring less commonly visited countries, currently living in Dubai. Calling both the UK and Nigeria home, while having ventured to 80 countries across 6 continents, her engaging content inspires her community to embrace life with fearlessness and embody true freedom. She is committed to showing that travel can be safe, easy, and achievable, particularly for Black women who want to travel solo.

Pelumi’s complete trip includes the United Kingdom; France; Spain; Morocco; Western Sahara; Mauritania; Senegal; The Gambia; Guinea-Bissau; Guinea; Sierra Leone; Mali; Burkina Faso; Ghana; Ivory Coast; Togo; Benin; and Nigeria.

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

While Waiting for Pelumi’s Trip Updates, Check Out These Travel-Centric Books!

From Scratch by Tembi Locke
From Scratch by Tembi Locke
Simon & Schuster (February 4, 2020), 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1501187667

Now a limited Netflix series starring Zoe Saldana!

This Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller is “a captivating story of love lost and found” (Kirkus Reviews) set in the lush Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hours.

Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood
Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 11, 2013), 256 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1481824903
Black Girl in Paris winds its way around the mythology of Paris as a city that has called out to African-American artists. Like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Josephine Baker before her, Youngblood’s heroine leaves her home, in the American South, nurturing a dream of finding artistic emancipation in the City of Light. She experiments freely, inhabiting different incarnations – artist’s model, poet’s helper, au pair, teacher, thief, and lover – to keep body and soul together, to stay afloat, heal the wounds of her broken heart, discover her sexual self, and, finally, to wrestle her dreams of becoming a writer into reality.
Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo
National Geographic (June 14, 2022), 418 pages
ASIN: B0B17343SM

In this inspiring travelogue, celebrated traveler and photographer Jessica Nabongo—the first Black woman on record to visit all 195 countries in the world—shares her journey around the globe with fascinating stories of adventure, culture, travel musts, and human connections.

It was a daunting task, but Jessica Nabongo, the beloved voice behind the popular website The Catch Me if You Can, made it happen, completing her journey to all 195 UN-recognized countries in the world in October 2019. Now, in this one-of-a-kind memoir, she reveals her top 100 destinations from her global adventure.

Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo
University of Washington Press (March 1, 2001), 250 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0295981154

Gifted travel writer, poet, professor of English, and insightful observer of human nature, Colleen McElroy journeyed to Madagascar to undertake a Fulbright research project exploring Malagasy oral traditions and myths. In Over the Lip of the World, she depicts with equal verve the various storytelling traditions of the island and her own adventures in trying to find and record them.

McElroy’s tale of an African American woman’s travels among the people of Madagascar is told with wit, insight, and humor. Throughout it, she interweaves English translations of Malagasy stories of heroism and morality, royalty and commoners, love and revenge, and the magic of tricksters and shapechangers.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu
Simon & Schuster (August 3, 2021), 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1982111236

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this “gorgeous” (The New York Times, Editors’ Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the “incredible story” (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

“In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl—abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies—find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid ground across countries and continents. I know the struggle of rebuilding your life in an unfamiliar place. While some of you might be familiar with that and some might not, I hope you’ll take as much inspiration and hope from her story as I did.” MALALA YOUSAFZAI


A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
A Parallel Road by Amani Willett
Handcrafted (November 2020), 112 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1999446871

This multi-layered work explores the Black experience of driving in America over the past 85 years. By picturing how it has too often been marked by fear, violence and death, A Parallel Road challenges representations of the American ideal of the road trip that have long dominated our view through artistic and literary media. Referencing the historical Negro Motorist Green Book, and layering archival and new images, it examines the question of how long the road will continue to be a site of violence and oppression for Black people in American society.

Looking for Transwonderland by Noo Saro-Wiwa
Soft Skull (August 21, 2012), 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1619020078

A “remarkable chronicle” of a journey back to this West African nation after years of exile (The New York Times Book Review).

Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria—a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Then she decided to come to terms with the country her father given his life for.

Traveling from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the decrepit kitsch of the Transwonderland Amusement Park, she explores Nigerian Christianity, delves into the country’s history of slavery, examines the corrupting effect of oil, and ponders the huge success of Nollywood.

She finds the country as exasperating as ever, and frequently despairs at the corruption and inefficiency she encounters. But she also discovers that it is far more beautiful and varied than she had ever imagined, with its captivating thick tropical rain forest and ancient palaces and monuments—and most engagingly and entertainingly, its unforgettable people.

“The author allows her love-hate relationship with Nigeria to flavor this thoughtful travel journal, lending it irony, wit and frankness.” —Kirkus Reviews

Happy Travels, Pelumi!
Happy Reading, Shark Fans!

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Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.




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