How Prof Aminu Mohammed Dorayi Drove a Car From London to Kano

Updated: Jan 27, 2022
By Bello Abdullahi

Professor Aminu Mohammed Dorayi, an alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University, a well-renowned educationist and Professor of Chemistry, set the record to be the first Nigerian to travel a whopping 4,000 miles in 24 days from London-England to Kano State in Nigeria, crossing across two continents using his car- a Peugeot 504.

So how did he do it?

How Professor Dorayi Made the Record Breaking Trip

Professor Aminu Mohammed Dorayi considers himself as an adventurous individual as his autobiography evidently shows, titled “The Adventurous Chemist”. While in the UK, he is said to be inspired by the likes of Marco Polos, and Mungo Parks, also being a person that has always been fascinated by the stories of adventures, decided to make one of his own.

Professor Aminu Mohammed Dorayi made a record-breaking trip by driving his Peugeot 504, down from London to Kano, a distance of about 4,000miles, equivalent to 6437.376KM in 24 days. This is almost equivalent to the travel from Maiduguri to Lagos; the farthest distance in Nigeria, six times.

Opening up recently about the journey, he said, “England is an Island. So, when you reach Southampton, you have to take a boat, you and your car, to Calais, France.

I started driving through Paris and so on through Madrid, Gibraltar, and when you reach Gibraltar, you reach the Mediterranean Sea where you also take a ferry to Algeria. From there you enter the road all through, though there is no road, so to speak, across the desert because you are guided by your compass, your map.

There was a place I passed in Algeria, and the day I arrived, it was raining heavily. Little children of 13 years and below were running helter-skelter and crying.

When I asked the elders why they said those children had never seen rain before. No rain for 14 years, so they thought heaven was falling. They had to be counseled by their elders. That’s something I clearly remember.

Biography of Prof Dorayi

Prof Aminu Mohammed Dorayi was born in Kano on November 16, 1942. His father was an educated and trained medical personnel, who worked amidst British doctors and nurses as a result of the low number of educated personnel in Nigeria.

His father, alongside his British medical counterparts, set up the then Kano City Hospital. Being an educated man, he made sure his children were equally educated which at the time was going against the flock.

He grew up in Dorayi Quarters kano, which was located behind the hospital his father help set up which initially started as staff quarters for main nurses. It was close to Zango, which was an area dominated by craftsmen and artisans.

Whilst he was a young man, he is said to have interacted much with children from these areas which according to him, gave him “dual experience and value”.

Like other Muslim parents of that time, his parents made sure that he and his siblings attended the customary evening Qur’anic school. After they returned from the western school in the afternoon, they rested a bit and went to the Qur’anic school in the evenings.

Education

Professor Aminu Mohammed Dorayi started schooling at the Kano City Primary School. During that period, there were about four to five primary schools in Kano city; one at the Emir’s palace, one at the Alhassan Dantata area; another was at Sahuci which he went to, and another was at Gidan Makama and then at Tudun Wada, said the professor. The schools were really few schools as there were few people to attended those schools.

Professor Aminu Mohammed Dorayi said he was a skilful footballer in primary school, so at secondary school, it was easier to showcase himself. He made it to the school team while he was in Form Two. He had a smallish body but was very skilful that by the time he was in Form Four in 1960, he was selected to play for Nigeria’s secondary school team.

Professor Aminu Mohammed Dorayi got admitted to the Provincial Secondary School, Kano to study for advanced level for two years where he studied Physics, Chemistry, and Pure Mathematics after he secured his Cambridge School Certificate in Kaduna.

In 1965 he gained admission to study chemistry at Ahmadu Bello University. Although he was scouted by a professor of Mathematics who was the first Head of the Department of Mathematics, at ABU Zaria, Professor D.J. Hofsommer went scouting for students who’d come and study the course. He was well fitted to be selected as he won a prize for Mathematics at his advanced A ‘level studies.

Aminu Dorayi got his Master’s degree and PhD from the University of Oregon, the USA at the young age of 30.

Work-life and Career

After concluding his PhD at the University of Oregon in the US, he received several offers from different institutions including the University of Oregon, all of which he declined, as he was equally offered a job at the Ahmadu Bello University to teach Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics which he gladly took.

During his early days of teaching Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics, the then vice-chancellor, professor Ishaya Audu, invited him to join the Faculty of Education and produce well-qualified science teachers that would go on to teach future engineers, doctors and scientists, an offer he gladly accepted.

Professor Aminu had to travel to the UK to further his studies at the University of Reading, where he obtained an advanced diploma in Science Education.

Awards, Achievements and Accolades

Professor Dorayi is a former president of the ABU Students Union Government (SUG) for 1966/1967. He was a commissioner for trade in Kano and due to his many foreign expeditions was the man who set up the Sharada Industrial Estate in Kano and organized the first trade fair in Nigeria in 1977 which was very successful. The federal government later invited him to help them organize a trade fair at Lagos.

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