In 2002, after deciding once and for all that his life was in Africa, Ofir left Israel and began a six week canoe trip down the Niger River. Not long after, he would begin his fight to save endangered species in Cameroon.
Ofir paddled down the Niger in the wake of Mungo Park, eating perhaps a poorer diet: river water, cold gari (manioc flour), and heaps of sugar. I’ve long tried to convince him that one can eat more than algae and still have an adventure.
Imagine the freedom to let a river pull you along in its current for six weeks, the freedom to stop in riverside villagers to rest and eat. Ofir passed under just one bridge in those six weeks. It was the last journey he took before founding LAGA in Cameroon.
Years ago, Ofir’s grandfather told him he thought he had traveled enough. Ofir responded, “I’m not traveling; I’m living.” A French mustache has to be tended to, even on the Niger River.
Nigeria has its tensions, but the people are warm and beautiful. While traveling across Nigeria by bus in 2002, I was escorted on each leg of the trip by someone who designated himself as my temporary host, buying me food and sometimes paying my fare. Here’s a shot of a breastfeeding mother, a girl in her village, and kids crowding in a bus station to get a view of Ofir.