Libya’s people smugglers were known as “Connection Men.” The sea crossing was hazardous, taking migrants over Mediterranean Sea to the Italian Island of Lampedusa. The bodies of would be immigrants were frequently washed up on some of the European countries or north African countries beaches after their rickety wooden or inflatable Boats capsized.
Tens of thousands of migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, yearly attempted to reach Europe, often undertaking dangerous sea journeys in rickety Boats that smelled of nothing but sweat and piss and vomit.
A month in Libya, Adesuwa, Osaro, Osai and others took to water and made their way to Lampedusa, where they were put back to sea for lack of valid traveling documents. After two additional months in Libya, Adesuwa, Osaro and others, still led by Osai, embarked on treacherous sea journey to the Italian Island of Lampedusa once more. After enduring extreme hardship and the ever-present possibility that each day would be her last as they crossed the Sahara desert to reach Libya, she was no longer afraid of dying. She had watched three people die in the desert. However, she still hoped she’d make it, and she did.
Soon they were surrounded by nothing but water. Adesuwa first sight of the sea – that unbelievable amount of water stretching to the far horizon, was difficult enough for her to comprehend. In many ways she was excited by her entry into this astonishing new world but underlying all such feelings there was an ache in her heart. She missed Nosa.
The skyline was gone and the only thing she could see from the Boat was the sea. At some places they sailed on a sea that was as smooth as glass and some places it was turbulent. Some days the weather was too lousy, the
Boat felt like going under at least three or four times a day and they were frightened. It was a life threatening journey. While they were crossing the sea, the waves were high at many spots and water came into their Boat. They, however, were able to make it to the other side.
In the Boat, Adesuwa had discussion with some immigrants why they were going to Europe to take their minds away from hunger because there was little food on the Boat.“I am going to Europe for survival, for my family’s survival. I hate the situation where we go to bed hungry. And I will do anything within my power to prevent it, whether it means scrubbing floor on my hands and
knees or even selling my body,” Anita, a sixteen years old Ghanaian girl declared.
“I lost my father to AIDS and I left my mother living with HIV and four younger ones. There is no help for us in my country so I decided to go over to Europe with the hope of securing a job,” Raska from Uganda said.
“The war in my country has made life unbearable. The Al Shabab killed my parents and a brother. I’m seeking asylum in Europe,” Ibrahim from Somalia said. “I have no one to help me, but a lot of people I must help.” He saw no future in his impoverished homeland.
“All the member of my family except my mother has been killed by the Janjanweed. The world is watching after they will declare the massacre in the Darfur region of Sudan a genocide as they did in Rwanda after all the people have been killed, instead of doing something now to stop it. Government forces and Janjanweed have destroyed my village completely. I’ve not finished high school because of the war. I’ve been living in a refugee camp in Niger for almost a year. The Janjanweed just kill, kill and kill,” Manni from Darfur complained.
“When will this rush to Europe end?” Adesuwa asked.
“It’ll not end; until development brings more prosperity and more jobs to Africa – one of the greatest challenges of our times,” Osaro said.
“How can there be development in Africa with bad leaders everywhere. Tyrants, corrupt and sit-tight presidents are everywhere. Even when they have outlived their usefulness, they do everything including killing as many people as possible to remain in power as it is the case in my country,” Morgan from Zimbabwe complained.“The developed countries need to do more to help African countries. There should be actions not speeches if the situation is to change. They have
to help fight corruption in the African continent --- help stop a few people collecting what is meant for all. I see no future in my impoverished country hence I am here risking my life in search of a greener pasture.” George Johnson from Sierra Leone contributed.
Then the waves became high, and water came into the Boat attempting to capsize it. Adesuwa’s heart sank. The evening just took a turn for the worse. They had to abandon their discussion to rescue the Boat. They started to bail water out of the Boat. The hair lifted on the back of her head. Her mind was racing, thoughts crashing into one another, like ocean waves.
When the threat was over, everyone was exhausted and cold and intent on his or her own survival. But what Adesuwa noticed most of all was the eerie silence. No one spoke, no one made a sound. They were all too deeply moved by what they had seen, too cold, and too afraid, and too badly shaken. Even the children seldom cried, except for the occasional wail of a hungry baby.
Adesuwa watched the flying fish scattered before her, marveling at the distance they flew before diving back beneath the waves. She watched the sky grow steadily bluer as the heat sapped her strength.
After three days, Adesuwa’s eyes could no longer open for more than a minute at a time during the hours of daylight. Many passengers had blistered faces, sunken cheeks, and they moved unsteadily on dragging feet. The black ones became darker without burns. Adesuwa was in no better shape than any of her companions and hope had died in her. The drinking water had finished. All their containers were empty. By the fifth day, she could hardly swallow food because her throat was too dry.
On arrival at Lampedusa, some of the immigrants were taken away on stretchers weak and emaciated with arms burnt by the sea salt. Adesuwa and Osaro were among those that arrived in fairly good health, needing only little medical assistance. Some of the immigrants arrived dead including one girl that had been traveling with Adesuwa and Osaro.