Brother of Ghanaian migrant narrates the sad story of his kid brother who died mysteriously while crossing the Sahara Desert to Libya to reach Italy
It is not his death that matter but the manner in which he perished still remained questionable till date.
Prince Amoh-Ayensu, 39, met his untimely death under mysterious circumstance while on transit through the Sahara Desert to Italy en route Libya.
Prince would’ve loved to tell his success story only if he had survived the dreadful journey, just like her kid sister Cynthia did 2 years via the same route to Italy.
Many African migrants and refugees who traveled through similar route to Europe have suffered all forms of abuse and torture while others were sold in open markets as slaves in Libya, and are held against their will in inhumane conditions in exchange for ransom money by human traffickers.
Some others too have perished under varying circumstances whose stories are yet to be told. But to a large extent the condition under which Prince died still remain a mystery yet to be unraveled.
I caught up with his elder brother, Samson Omenako Ayensu, a 41-year-old commercial bus(trotro) driver at Tema station in Accra who gave step by step account of what led to his brother’s untimely death, what informed his decision to journey through the desert instead by air including the bizarre circumstance surrounding his demise.
Highly emotional Samson broke into uncontrollable tears while recounting the ghastly account of his brother’s death reported to him by his kid sister who resides in the Italy popularly called “Oyiboman’s” land.
“It all began somewhere in June, 2017 during the moslem fasting period (Ramadan) when my junior brother told me he wanted to join our kid sister, Cynthia in Italy.
“I was not happy about the idea so I quickly asked him, what informed his decision to embark on such a perilous journey knowing very well about her girlfriend’s plan to fly him over to Germany so they can both live together after having secured for herself the necessary legal documentations that would guarantee her peaceful stay”.
So I asked him again, “why are you worrying yourself to go the illegal way to Italy instead of waiting upon your girlfriend to deliver on his promised at God’s own time?”, which he did replied me instantly by saying, “oh no, I just want to go!
At that point in time, all I could say was, it’s ok, adding, “you’re an adult therefore I can’t decide for you, if you so wish to, then you can go ahead, wishing him well”.
He told me his checks have proved that the road is clear of harassments from border guards as well as security officers therefore made up his mind to leave the following day.
True to his words, he dressed up in a blue jean with a fashionable t-shirt top to match when I spotted him the next day very early in the morning with a mini travelling bag closely packed with his personal belongings including cream cracker biscuits, water bottle and bid me farewell as he heads towards Kaneshie station in Accra to board a bus bound for Niger.
Samson averred that was the last time he ever set eyes on his kid brother, Prince Amoh-Ayensu until news of his bizarre demise hit him with shock.
Mysterious Death Strikes
“I got a phone call from him three (3) days later in the evening around 4:00 pm, informing me of his safe arrival at Niger, with the plan to continue to Agadez (the Nigerian city where many West African migrants cross the Sahara Desert to Libya) to get to Libya before finally crossing the Mediterranean Sea in boat to Italy”.
“Then in less than a week, let’s say in 4-5 days’ time I wasn’t hearing from him again so I called my Junior sister in Italy to find out whether he has heard of him or not. “She told me no, but noted that she has called an agent at Libya who confirmed to her that he is on the way coming to Libya”.
“I later got the news that the agent said there’s a lady on board the same pickup with him on the Sahara Desert who called the agent to inform him that my brother had kicked the bucket”.
“All of a sudden, cold gripped me, I was thrown into a state of shock and disbelieve upon hearing my brother’s sad demise”.
Samson averred that reports given him by her sister in Italy indicated that the same lady who confirmed his death was very close to his brother during their time of transit.
Her description was only given as a nursing mother whom the deceased has been assisting her with her baby while on transit whenever she happens to busy.
“She revealed that on the way coming to Libya, my brother started behaving strange; he was heard murmuring strange words like someone who is struck with a ‘high fever’”.
“At a point in time, he even claimed seeing coffins among other unseen images which looks very strange to everyone on board the pickup vehicle they were travelling in across the desert”.
“She concluded that nobody touched my brother, tortured or brutalized him in any way to warrant his strange behavior which shocked every Tom, Dick and Harry on board to the bone”.
When I asked Samson if his brother has been faced with any health challenge before embarking on the journey, he quickly replied: ” Oh no, that guy was a very strongman, he was even stronger than me because he always go to gym and have his body exercised regularly every morning therefore it is not possible for him to suffer high fever, besides, he has no medical history which showed high fever or its related disease”.
It then dawned on him that something strange might have happened to his brother which goes beyond human comprehension while crossing the Sahara Desert to Libya.
Shocked as he was, he believes the circumstances surrounding his brother’s death are questionable therefore ought to be thoroughly investigated.
Why is it that among all other passengers on board the pickup vehicle they were traveling in, it was only his dear brother who lost his life? How could a sound, able-bodied man just perished without a cause or any track record of some kind of sickness to be called ‘high fever”? Could it be that he was secretly attacked and killed by an unknown assailant which was not confirmed to Samson?
These are serious questions that would beat anyone’s imagination to demand an answer, either reading or hearing the pathetic story of a vibrant young migrant who met his untimely death under a bizarre circumstance while crossing the Sahara Desert to Libya. For Samson, until an answer is provided to all the above questions, he will keep pushing without rest.
According to Samson, his motivation for sharing his brother’s story is to educate and discourage the public on dangers of illegal migration, most especially the youth who are currently hitting on plans to also travel outside their country either through the desert or sea (stow away) to Europe for greener pastures. This, he believes is the way to go to in order to help prevent more lives from getting lost.
Recap of Deceased’s Life on Earth
Before embarking on such a perilous journey, Prince already had a job of his own. He was a second clothes dealer at Kantamanto market in Accra. According to his brother, he was already living a normal life and able to cater for his family of five (2 children, including himself and his wife). Samson revealed what pushed his brother to migrate outside Ghana was the drive to seek for greener pastures abroad since he was not content with the kind of lifestyle his was living here in this country. Though he agrees with the idea that there are numerous job opportunities in Europe, Middle East and other parts of the world compare to Ghana, he holds the view that it is possible for the youth make it here in their own soil if they disciplined, acquire the right knowledge that would transform their lives to create their own jobs with support from government instead of holding the negative mentally that they can only make it outside.
The search for greener pastures has always been the driving force pushing our youth to migrate in numbers out of their country to Europe.
This has been the trend in Africa in recent times which some Ghanaians are also involved.
The move has become a phenomenon deeply eating into the fabric of our society. Presently, the practice has become rife, turning majority of the youth into victims instead of victors due to the kind of danger they are exposed to on the way as illegal migrants.
A typical example can be said of the horrendous torture and the inhuman treatment most African migrants and refugees were exposed to in recent months while embarking on the same journey across the Sahara Desert via Libya to Europe.
News report has it that most of these African migrants were sold in open markets as slaves in Libya, and are held against their will in inhumane conditions in exchange for ransom money.
A revelation which sent shock waves globally and sparked protests outside Libyan embassies across Africa and Europe.
Libya has been a major transit destination for migrants and refugees hoping to reach Europe by sea.
According to the International Organization for Migration, there are 700,000 – 1 million migrants in Libya.
In Africa for that matter Ghana, poverty and unemployment has been identified as factors pushing the youth to migrate.
This expose has been backed by a recent Afrobarometer report which cited about half of two groups that are critical to African countries’ economic future, the young and the highly educated, have considered emigrating in search of greener pastures,
Among the nine countries surveyed in 2017, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Benin, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Uganda, Mali, and Nigeria – Zimbabwe has topped being the highest proportion of young potential emigrants.
Although the main drivers for potential emigration are the same across all countries, the quest for jobs and better economic prospects and the preferred destinations vary greatly by country, with potential emigrants split between leaving and staying on the continent. The freedom of movement, mobility rights, or rights to travel is a human rights concept encompassing the right of individuals to travel from place to place within the territory of a country, and to leave the country and return to it. The right includes not only visiting places, but changing the place where the individual resides or works. Such a right is provided in the constitutions of numerous states, and in documents reflecting norms of international law. For example, article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights vividly asserts that: a citizen of a state in which that citizen is present has the liberty to travel, reside in, and/ or work in any part of the state where one pleases within the limits of respect for the liberty and rights of others.
If indeed all these laws are working, then everyone has freedom and rights to migrate, reside and work elsewhere but the main problem is always due to the manner in which people migrate which is mostly, the wrong way (illegal migration) which must be checked.
Migration has its advantages same as its disadvantages to the country which is losing people and also the host country. Although identified as a global issue that requires global solutions from all quarters, the UN Agenda 2030 has been considered as useful policy framework for migration.
This means that achieving the SDGs is key for Ghana to put behind itself issues that comes with illegal migration which lots of lives of our youth are being exposed to danger; be it torture, abuse or sold in slavery or held against their will in inhumane conditions including loss of life through mysterious deaths like that of unfortunate Prince Amoh- Ayensu as well as others who were victimized.
For Ghana to meet the SDGs, it would require that the needs of its youth be met by helping fix the burgeoning unemployment canker as well as strive to create an enabling environment for them to thrive in order to discourage them from illegal migration in search for greener pastures elsewhere.
Local and International laws on migration and free movement should be shaped in a friendly way to guarantee free movement and migration in all the ECOWAS countries and across the entire world.
The media also has a major role to play in shedding lights on issues pertaining to migration and free movement to educate the masses on the legal ways of migration, how to acquire the right documentation, the dangers of illegal migration and the laws guiding the free movement of migration in Ghana and beyond.
It is my hope that the proposed Global Impact for Migration which will be adopted this year under the auspices of the United Nations would cover dimensions of International migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner which among all things protect the safety, dignity and human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migratory status, and at all times.
Finally, the ECOWAS Protocol on the Free Movement should be reinforced to remove every impediments or barriers to trade movement of its citizens across borders so as to forestall the crises most African migrants faced in their quest to migrate out of borders as a way of eliminating the act of illegal migration.