The presenter and athlete returns to the land of his birth for the four-part series, Africa with Ade Adepitan
Ade Adepitan’s enthusiasm knows no bounds as he negotiates the often rough terrain of Africa in his wheelchair to find out how the continent is changing.
He begins in West Africa where, in a fishing village in Senegal, he discovers that much of the country’s fish is taken by foreign companies to be turned into livestock feed.
Finally, in his birthplace – Lagos in Nigeria – Ade meets with fellow polio survivors who impress him with their go-getting spirit.
TV Times rating: *****
Here, Ade, 45, gives TV Times all the details about his epic trip…
Why did you make this series?
I am hoping to change the preconceptions people have of Africa.
It’s more than just war, famine and poverty – I want to show its beauty, the complexity of the people and the diversity of the continent.
A lot of people see Africa as one place, but it’s close to 50 countries. The languages are different, the people are different, the food is different. It’s stunning.
What was it like visiting your birthplace of Lagos in Nigeria?
It was really good seeing the boys under the bridge, as I call them. They had polio, which was seen as a disease that made you cursed, and they were pretty much ostracised.
When I met them four or five years ago they were planning to save their money and set up a tuk-tuk cab company, which they have done, adapting the vehicles to be hand-controlled only.
It was heart-warming to see, but they still live under a flyover. That’s the mad juxtaposition you sometimes get in Africa.
What was your biggest highlight?
Getting close to the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was wonderful.
I wanted to fist- bump the gorillas, but I was told I couldn’t.
Humans carry diseases that can be transmitted to them.
Also, the gorillas would have seen me as a new toy. They would have picked me up and thrown me around and there would have been nothing anyone could have done about it.
In the final episode you visit Mozambique, where you show how hard it is to use a wheelchair in Africa. What was it like for you?
I knew it was going to be difficult, but using the London Underground is difficult!
I had to be prepared and make sure I had the right tyres and had spare parts.
But the great thing about Africa is that anything can be fixed.