By Ikenna Amadi

Beads of sweat formed huge balls on my forehead, my body thumped in pain, the raging sun threw fiery heat on my skull, my feet designed with blisters as every painful step drew me close to hell. My throat croaked in pain, while my back gauged shock waves as I felt the whole world was on it.

We walked through the scorching heat of the desert for days, without water except for my urine which quenched my thirst. As every turn painted hell, I felt a huge lump form down my throat as anxiety crept into my shrunken heart.

This was nightmare turned reality as I remembered Efe’s warning four months ago when I disclosed my plans to enter Europe in search of greener pastures.

‘Akuna, relax, not everything turns gold overnight.’

That statement drew hot tears on my already disfigured face as regrets and reality dawned on me.  This is me, Akuna Egberefe, 21, now on her way to a self-destruction hidden under the most ruthless and hidden fact of modern-slavery.

Slavery, was what we used to read and see in movies during my childhood days as I remember opening my eyes in shock when I saw how human beings were being treated like animals, only if I had known, was a foreshadowed plot waiting to destroy my life.

As we trudged through the dessert, with three new ‘slaves’ threading the path of uncertainty, my mind waved through the anthihesis of my end.

I got inspired on making it in Europe, when I saw how young men and women in my little town were basking in wealth, with just their sojourn in western Europe. I was mad with envy and ambition when I saw young girls my age coming back home and flaunting European wealth. This got me thinking and drifted my mind to an insatiable desire towards wealth.

Mama had warned, Efe sang my warnings everyday like he knew the disaster that awaited, but I was consumed by an unflinching desire to clear out poverty from my family as the first and eldest child of a family where poverty was an understatement.

As a girl, I had experienced every indignity that most African women face, but I endured hoping for a silver linen.  In Abraka, I had grown frustrated with my scarce ends and I needed a change.

After making so many investigations on how to make my dreams of entering western Europe with many promises of milk and honey flowing, my appetite was fuelled the more. With time, my plans were already in motion and I met Jumbo, the guy who changed my life forever.

I remember leaving home with an impulse to cry as I felt an unusual purge of fear, but my fueling desire of wealth gingered me.

I and so many young men and women moved with Jumbo, as we crossed the borders of Benin Republic, Niger and entered Gazzah in Libya,  where my true story started.

In Gazzah, Jumbo’s real face appeared as reality dawned on me that he was a human trafficker.  We were all packed in a small room like sardines, while we were treated with the highest form of human bestiality.

We, the girls were turned to sex toys and converted to pleasure tools for the Arabs who  traded us for stipends. At this point, I relaxed, consoling myself that it was a sacrifice that must be paid before I entered my dream location, western Europe.

The young men, all African faced another facet of bestiality as they were made to do things watched in slave movies.  Some converted to houseboys, whores for Arab gays, male prostitutes, labourers and so on. This was a gorry sight as so many of us died along the way.

My heart quaked when reality dawned on me that Jumbo, was a middle man dealer in human trafficking and had played his part while collecting his ‘share’ from every slave brought. This gradually dragged me to my utmost fears when I was stripped naked in Gazzah by two young Arabs and gang banged.

In Gazzah, cries were like songs to these evil men and I had learnt to stiffen just so I live to enter the western Europe of my dreams. I was too strong willed to realise that I was now a full-fledged slave in 21st century!

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