Chemical Engineer by profession and Motorcyclist by Passion, Ogbonnaya Kanu fondly called FD, is at the forefront of redefining motorcycling in Nigeria. He has set records in motorcycle touring, becoming the first and only Nigerian to ride to Europe and back on a motorcycle, covering a distance of over 16,000km; in 2014, he rode from South Africa to Lagos shortly after the Ebola outbreak, a feat that also saw him become the first and only Nigerian member of the Iron Butt Association aka The World’s Toughest Riders; and in 2016, he toured North America, participating in three organized rides, namely: The 3 Flags Classic, The 4 Corners USA, and the California Missions Tour, covering a total of over 25,000km. This also put him forward as a recipient of the Triple Crown Award, and the only Nigerian to have accomplished that feat.
You have quite an impressive record with adventure motorcycling?
Motorcycling in itself is such a wonderful experience. You’re in direct contact with the elements. Your sense of awareness and hazard perception are greatly heightened, and you have very little room for error…every millisecond counts. It’s almost like living life in fast motion. If you make a mistake in real life, you pay for it, if you make a mistake riding, you pay for it. It also makes you a better driver.
With adventure motorcycling, or motorcycle touring, your endurance and riding skills are pushed to the limit. There’s a certain thrill in pushing your limits, and there’s also the sense of fulfillment that comes with breaking those limits. I also get to experience different cultures, climates, communities, and lifestyles. Motorcycle touring is very enlightening, exciting and I always come back a better person than I was when I left.
Above all, these adventures have served to deepen my faith in and love for God, who preserves and protects me during my travels.
With motorcycle touring, sometimes you have to traverse unfamiliar territory, how do you find your way around, and how do you prepare?
Mototouring costs money, and time and also requires some degree of physical and mental discipline. In terms of physical discipline, you have to be healthy. For example, I have to be on a diet. I don’t want to risk anything that would give me a running stomach or upset me while I am on the road. I go on it five or six days before I start my trip, because I want to stabilize my system. I have to be in pretty good shape health wise. I do my exercises, I cycle 20km every day.
With regards to financial preparation, you need to begin to save. The things that you would normally spend money on, you will let it go and begin to push money aside towards the trip. It’s not cheap. You’re going to be spending money for fuel, for hotels, for food in a location where maybe these things cost more.
As regards finding my way around, there are maps to show you were you are going, but the local knowledge can add so much more, and the plans I make are not inflexible.
You believe you can use motorcycling to impact lives positively, how are you achieving that?
The motorcycle, in most societies, is accompanied with a degree of “notoriety” or “awe”. This puts the riders in the “spotlight”. Being a rider too, this means that I am often in the spotlight. Being in this position means that I can be in a place where my words will be heard or read by many and cause some influence.
I realized that a lot of people valued what I was doing, and found it inspiring and motivating to break their own limits; even though for me, it appeared that it was effortless. One night, it just hit me that I could package what I was doing in a way as to inspire people, and ultimately lead them and show them that the secret of my success or source of my strength, is Christ.
So I started FD Breaking Limits, and was very encouraged to see the response. Even if it’s one person who says our post says something to him, I know that it is God ministering to that person, and it’s just a matter of time.
In 2015, you co-founded the FotoDadi Foundation to support the education of financially-challenged orphans and fatherless children, why did you choose to focus on them?
In our society, we often see the pain and suffering that are caused when a family loses its leadership with the loss of the father. This loss immediately puts the family at a disadvantage. The situation is further compounded if that loss is accompanied by the loss of the mother. God put in our hearts the need to bridge this gap with the provision of educational grants. We are convinced that with the proper knowledge/education, the future of our beneficiaries can be changed for the better, and I guess this is how God is using us to change the world.
How is the FD Foundation funded?
We are being supported by contributions from a number of individuals, and have also received donations from some private organizations in the past. We started off with 11 children when we launched, and presently, we have 40 beneficiaries.
Also details of my Lagos-Europe-Lagos tour are published in the book, FD Breaking Limits: Road To Europe, and all proceeds from the sales are channeled towards the foundation. There are also options for people to sponsor copies of the book, and donate them to Libraries, schools, recreation centres, prisons, hospitals, and other public places.
The next sequel of the FD Breaking Limits series will be published this year too, and contains the details of my South Africa to Lagos tour.