A heartbreaking video showcasing a young Nigerian’s truly harrowing life experiences has been uploaded to YouTube.
In the clip, a Nigerian named Harrison solemnly narrates how he barely escaped death after an ill-fated attempt to illegally travel to Italy from Libya. Out of 142 on board his makeshift boat, only three survived. The Nigerian was taken to a Libyan prison where he languished for almost five years. After ‘miraculously’ securing release, his return to Nigeria was to prove an even bigger shock. His wife, thinking him dead, had married one of his closest friends. His only son was dead. Here is his story:
142 people set out on the intrepid voyage that night. 142 naïve men, women and children on a journey to the unknown. 142 recklessly risking their lives in the pursuit of a ‘better future’ in Europe. But 142 never arrived. 139 descended to a watery grave that night. 139 families cruelly robbed of their loved one. 139 destinies battered by the howling winds of the Mediterranean Seas. Harrison was one of the only three survivors, clinging desperately onto an empty oil can. Unbeknown to him, the life he stubbornly clung to was a reality far worse than death…
A better life lay waiting for him, they said. A land flowing with proverbial ‘milk and honey’. An ‘easy job’ with ‘easy money’ abroad. Desperation easily fell for the tactics of deception and Harrison agreed. The married dock-worker who had recently lost his job was lulled into the false belief that travelling abroad to Europe ‘no matter the cost’ was the best option. What began with hope ended up in a journey of perilous danger and bitter despair.
Harrison set out five years ago, bidding his wife and young son a tearful farewell and promising he would speak with them as soon as he reached ‘Italy’. He never did. A tumultuous passage through the desert finally led the young Nigerian to the North African nation of Libya. Alongside 141 others, hustled into a small ‘rubber dinghy’, Harrison was pushed into the sea by those heading an intricate network of human trafficking. Mid-journey, the makeshift boat hit a rock and began leaking. Chaos ensued.
As water began filling up the boat amidst the screams and cries of its occupants, Harrison beheld a shocking sight that seared his conscience. A mother held her crying baby aloft as the frail boat began to sink. Before his eyes, he witnessed the ocean swallow mother and son. Gone. Life snuffed out in one foul watery swoop. As the boat capsized, Harrison grabbed onto an empty can that once contained oil. To his left and right, those he travelled with submerged into the abyss. With his strength failing, a ship of Libyan coast guards emerged from the shadows. Hauled aboard, his ‘rescuers’ brutally beat him to a stupor. The following morning, he painfully awoke – not in hospital – but in a dingy prison cell.
The horrors Harrison witnessed in a Libyan underground dungeon go far beyond the meager description mere words can provide. It was almost five years of ‘hell on earth’. Life became cheap to the startling degree that Harrison witnessed dead bodies carried out of the cell on a daily basis. With hopes of a release barely minimal and scores of new inmates pouring into the dungeons daily, the young Nigerian had an unusual dream one night. He saw himself in a large church receiving prayer from a ‘man of God’. He woke in a cold sweat. Shortly afterwards, Harrison was among the over 600 Nigerians in Libya who were deported with the intervention of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a branch of the United Nations.
However, freedom came along with a heartbreaking reality. Returning to his home in Ejigbo, Lagos State, the first residents who saw the ‘prodigal son’ disbelievingly threw sand on him, thinking he was a ghost. Rumours had spread like wildfire that Harrison had died since his departure five years earlier. Assuring them he was a real person, he was led solemnly to his former house. There, the shock of his life awaited. His wife had remarried – to his best friend. His only son had died. Five years wasted. Five years lost. Five years that changed everything.
Forlorn and malnourished, Harrison recalled the dream he had in the Libyan prison and headed to The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). He was not alone. In May 2017, more than N15m was provided to deportees by the church’s humanitarian arm, alongside two bags of rice each. This show of compassion touched him to the core as he realised that what he sought for abroad was actually available in his own country. Harrison called on the youth of Nigeria to never undergo such a journey and be content with what they have. After hearing his sordid experiences, T.B. Joshua gave Harrison the sum of N120,000 to help him start a new life.