Udekwe had cried to a point where tears flowed no more. Every moral fiber within him was shaken at the gruesome sight. Yesterday, they had eaten together. Joked together. Dreamt together. Now, he had become nothing more than a statistic – another forlorn figure to add to the growing number of lives lost at sea in search of something that never materialized. His lifeless face still bore the look of untold horrors. His closest friend – drowned. “If I get through this, I’ll tell the story he never could,” the young migrant firmly resolved. He offered a silent prayer and dug a shallow grave…
Udekwe Kennedy Obinna was jobless for three years. After graduating from Nnamdi Azikwe University in Music, disappointment marred every attempt to translate his talents into a lucrative occupation. Thus, when his senior brother began posting luring pictures of his time in Europe, claiming it was a “land flowing in milk and honey”, Udekwe fell hook, line and sinker. It would be an easy journey, they told him. He would reach Italy in under a week. The young man ended up spending two years in Libya – a timespan he later referred to as “living hell”.
The journey through the Sahara Desert was tortuous. After two days in the blistering sun, water supplies ended. When they pulled up to an aged well in the midst of the desert, thirst blinded reason. Even though a fresh human corpse lay within the water, Udekwe drank – as did his thirty other travelers. The remains of unfortunate victims who succumbed to the horrific conditions lay strewn across the desert floor. “We never waited for anyone who dies on the journey; they just throw their body onto the sand,” he recounted.
Arriving in Libya, Udekwe was sold into slavery. “All the girls were forced into prostitution and the men were beaten to compel their families into paying a ransom,” he explained. Obinna languished for two months in the custody of his heartless captors. When his family finally raised sufficient funds for his release – N220,000 – he was captured again and resold to a Libyan lady. Managing to escape her iron first one night, he finally made his way to the seashore – preparing to take a rickety rubber dinghy alongside 180 others hoping beyond hope that favorable weather would enable his safe arrival to Europe.
Three hours later, the engine failed and water began seeping into the boat. The fuel leak mixed with salty water to produce a toxic substance which left exposed skin horribly burnt. Fearing the worst, Udekwe jumped into the water and began to swim. He mustered enough strength to make it back to shore – where he was promptly recaptured.
After a five-month incarceration in a Libyan prison, Udekwe was among the Nigerians deported back home on Tuesday 5th June 2018. His first point of call, alongside 90 others, was The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. “I came here to thank God for keeping me alive and to warn my fellow African youths to NEVER undertake such a journey,” he candidly told congregants. “Please, you can save a soul,” he passionately pleaded. “If you know anyone who is considering such a journey, do everything within your power to stop them. They are going on a suicide mission where out of 100, only one survives.”
The Anambra State indigene was among those who received N3,000,000 from Prophet T.B. Joshua upon their visit to The SCOAN – aid to enable them to start lives afresh back in Nigeria.