Crossing the Border…Emeka Ikezu's Story

Dec 08, 2017

Emeka Golden Ikezu

Hi readers, this week I bring to you, a true life story of a young man who was filled with the hope of being an international football star. Having been deceived into believing that he was being taken to Europe to achieve that dream, his hopes were dashed as he ended up going on that trip by road. Kindly read on as the twists and turns in this true life story unravel great lessons of trust, determination and perseverance. It is a story of survival and his need to fulfil the vow he made to God as he stared death in the face and watched some of his companions die while travelling in the lonely desert after they had been sold for a price like a commodity in a market stall. Please, read on about this interesting story of a journey to the unknown…        

Kindly start by introducing yourself and the reason why you are here.

Okay, my name is Emeka Golden Ikezu and I am the CEO the Managing Director of Golden Child Football Academy based here in Eziowelle. I am a Nigerian/Swiss dual citizen and I am here to talk about my life experience

Alright, tell us how you got to the position you occupy right now and generally, about your life

I am the last child of my parents. This whole story started when my parents could not afford my education and football became the only option to survive because I loved football. I started as a goal keeper anyway and I felt like football became my only means of survival so I took to the streets since I could not do anything and I really took it serious, that was how I got to nurturing this dream of playing the best leagues in the world and because I grew up here in Anambra state where little or no opportunity is given to talent development and child’s right to dream. Children and the youth don’t have right to dream here so there are no infrastructure and facilities to help develop the youths, so it only led to forcing a lot of youths out of the state because everybody is looking for a way to showcase what he can do and I was not left out so I left too. I went to Lagos State where I started playing with the state league team. That was exactly where I met a guy that introduced himself as Mr. John a Manager, a football agent that was to take us to Algeria to play for a second division class. We were excited and he promised that we would only spend only 6 months in Algeria before he would take us to Spain and he encouraged us to raise the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand naira for the trip. He never told us we were to travel through the desert so that was how we got involved and because it was the dream of every street footballer in Nigeria and even Africa to play in Europe, we grabbed the opportunity with both hands and believed that we had arrived, not knowing that we are really like putting ourselves into shame so we collected the money and paid to him. That was in 2003. 

How many were you people?

We were fifteen in number. He took us to Kano state and left us there for like two weeks. Then went to other states to get other victims. We were all holed up in one flat and were taken batch by batch. When he took us from Kano to Niger Republic, he told us that the situation was that we were to travel by road and that it wasn’t a big deal because that was how every other footballer we watched on TV travelled. He asked us to make up our minds that the journey had already started and that there was no going back. So, because we had already told all our friends, family and the people who raised money for us that we were travelling to Europe, there was no going back. So, we were only left with the option of going the hard way. So, we went with him through Niger Republic and the journey started.

What exactly was your state of mind at this point? Were you scared or just simply determined to go on with the journey in spite of all odds?

We were ambitious. We really wanted to make it in life and saw no opportunity in Nigeria that guaranteed our future and for us, if suffering through the desert was what it would take us to where we wanted to be, we were ready to take the plunge. We didn’t know actually what the journey had in store for us until we embarked on it. So we left Kano for Niger Republic for a very long journey. That was in 2003 and a lot of things happened during that trip that I wouldn’t want to talk about. Yeah. I saw myself in the desert which is a no man’s land. I saw people dying there on the road. They brought these open trucks with which they took us in batches, so you find out that it is not the people in your group that you ended up not travelling with. We were all scattered, so no one knew about the where about of the other person. Just yourself. So we got there and started the journey again, it was really hell.

What about food? What about liquid? How did you feed and how did you quench your thirst when you got thirsty in the lifeless desert?

The one we did was called, ‘Europe by gidon’ because when you move into the jungle, you will hear a lot of slangs. Gidon is a keg of water. You will carry as much as you can and cover it with sack cloth and then, you pour water around it in order to preserve it and keep the water cold enough because it is a journey in the desert and everything turns hot because of the scorching sun so you have to keep the drink cold as it is your only means of survival. We were also asked to carry a back pack of food containing, garri, cabin biscuit and this is what we ate for a long time during this journey.

How long did this journey take?

We were in the desert for like one month and we got to Niger Republic and then to Algeria. What really made us to spend so much time is that when we got to Algeria, there was problem. We had to spend so much time in Tamaraset because they were doing elections and we had to spend a lot of time waiting for the election to finish and hiding from the immigration. This time around, we were in hiding until we were eventually smuggled into the city. There is a camp called travaye ground where a lot of immigrants were kept until they make connection for us to join a bus or car that will take us down the cities towards Morocco because Morocco is where they will now take you into the ship that will cross you over to Spain where there is a border city. So that was how everything started. There are a lot of things that happened in this journey that I wouldn’t like to say but at the end of the day, through this journey, I saw myself in Europe and it was hell. It was during this desert time that I promised God that if I survived it, I would come back home to Nigeria and save our young boys from taking this terrible risk as I did.

What about the man that took you all from Lagos?

 During this time, the collection guy that took us from Lagos was nowhere to be found. We never saw him again. Their modus operandi is that when they get to Niger Republic, they will hand us over from one Mafia to another that will be in charge of connection from Niger Republic to Algeria, from Algeria they will connect us again to another person that will take us to another city. This is how it goes till we get to the place we wait for connection to board the ship again and then you have to pay for it. So most of us, when you stay there, they will ask you to call, sometimes you have to stay in the bush for a very long time. When it is your turn, they will bring you in and give you the opportunity to call your loved ones in Nigeria or Europe to send you money so that they will be able to cross you over. So these are the way they will be getting money from you. Sometimes, those people will send money to you because if your loved one finds out that you are in this kind of mess, they will do everything to save you to make sure that you are alive. So in this way, they collect lots of money from people. Sometimes, they will collect it from your people and refuse to give it to you. Sometimes too, you get the money and they will steal it from you and that is how it happens till you get an opportunity to get your own time, to be cost provided. It will cost you like $800. Then, another thing that happened, I was having this sleeping tablet with me, Cipron. Immediately I took it, I will sleep off for a long time. It helped me forget about anything going on around me because it is a journey of life and death. If anything happened, it’s only God that saves and we can’t do anything to save ourselves. Most of us didn’t know how to swim. Even if you can swim, we have never swam in an ocean before. So we faced a whole lot of challenges. During that ordeal, it was even in Algeria that I told God that I didn’t want to travel again because it was not the initial plan that we had to come to Algeria and play for a club. There was no connection with playing football anymore. I even stopped thinking about playing football. I was just thinking about my life and how to survive. I told God, ‘I don’t want to lose my life. I want you to keep me alive and I promise that if you save me from death, I will start up a project for football where I will discourage illegal migration by people that are desperate to travel and I’ll set up an academy that will help them to develop their dream. To be Cont’d…

Hi readers, this week I bring to you, a true life story of a young man who was filled with the hope of being an international football star. Having been deceived into believing that he was being taken to Europe to achieve that dream, his hopes were dashed as he ended up going on that trip by road. Kindly read on as the twists and turns in this true life story unravel great lessons of trust, determination and perseverance. It is a story of survival and his need to fulfil the vow he made to God as he stared death in the face and watched some of his companions die while travelling in the lonely desert after they had been sold for a price like a commodity in a market stall. Please, read on about this interesting story of a journey to the unknown…        

Kindly start by introducing yourself and the reason why you are here.

Okay, my name is Emeka Golden Ikezu and I am the CEO the Managing Director of Golden Child Football Academy based here in Eziowelle. I am a Nigerian/Swiss dual citizen and I am here to talk about my life experience

Alright, tell us how you got to the position you occupy right now and generally, about your life

I am the last child of my parents. This whole story started when my parents could not afford my education and football became the only option to survive because I loved football. I started as a goal keeper anyway and I felt like football became my only means of survival so I took to the streets since I could not do anything and I really took it serious, that was how I got to nurturing this dream of playing the best leagues in the world and because I grew up here in Anambra state where little or no opportunity is given to talent development and child’s right to dream. Children and the youth don’t have right to dream here so there are no infrastructure and facilities to help develop the youths, so it only led to forcing a lot of youths out of the state because everybody is looking for a way to showcase what he can do and I was not left out so I left too. I went to Lagos State where I started playing with the state league team. That was exactly where I met a guy that introduced himself as Mr. John a Manager, a football agent that was to take us to Algeria to play for a second division class. We were excited and he promised that we would only spend only 6 months in Algeria before he would take us to Spain and he encouraged us to raise the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand naira for the trip. He never told us we were to travel through the desert so that was how we got involved and because it was the dream of every street footballer in Nigeria and even Africa to play in Europe, we grabbed the opportunity with both hands and believed that we had arrived, not knowing that we are really like putting ourselves into shame so we collected the money and paid to him. That was in 2003. 

How many were you people?

We were fifteen in number. He took us to Kano state and left us there for like two weeks. Then went to other states to get other victims. We were all holed up in one flat and were taken batch by batch. When he took us from Kano to Niger Republic, he told us that the situation was that we were to travel by road and that it wasn’t a big deal because that was how every other footballer we watched on TV travelled. He asked us to make up our minds that the journey had already started and that there was no going back. So, because we had already told all our friends, family and the people who raised money for us that we were travelling to Europe, there was no going back. So, we were only left with the option of going the hard way. So, we went with him through Niger Republic and the journey started.

What exactly was your state of mind at this point? Were you scared or just simply determined to go on with the journey in spite of all odds?

We were ambitious. We really wanted to make it in life and saw no opportunity in Nigeria that guaranteed our future and for us, if suffering through the desert was what it would take us to where we wanted to be, we were ready to take the plunge. We didn’t know actually what the journey had in store for us until we embarked on it. So we left Kano for Niger Republic for a very long journey. That was in 2003 and a lot of things happened during that trip that I wouldn’t want to talk about. Yeah. I saw myself in the desert which is a no man’s land. I saw people dying there on the road. They brought these open trucks with which they took us in batches, so you find out that it is not the people in your group that you ended up not travelling with. We were all scattered, so no one knew about the where about of the other person. Just yourself. So we got there and started the journey again, it was really hell.

What about food? What about liquid? How did you feed and how did you quench your thirst when you got thirsty in the lifeless desert?

The one we did was called, ‘Europe by gidon’ because when you move into the jungle, you will hear a lot of slangs. Gidon is a keg of water. You will carry as much as you can and cover it with sack cloth and then, you pour water around it in order to preserve it and keep the water cold enough because it is a journey in the desert and everything turns hot because of the scorching sun so you have to keep the drink cold as it is your only means of survival. We were also asked to carry a back pack of food containing, garri, cabin biscuit and this is what we ate for a long time during this journey.

How long did this journey take?

We were in the desert for like one month and we got to Niger Republic and then to Algeria. What really made us to spend so much time is that when we got to Algeria, there was problem. We had to spend so much time in Tamaraset because they were doing elections and we had to spend a lot of time waiting for the election to finish and hiding from the immigration. This time around, we were in hiding until we were eventually smuggled into the city. There is a camp called travaye ground where a lot of immigrants were kept until they make connection for us to join a bus or car that will take us down the cities towards Morocco because Morocco is where they will now take you into the ship that will cross you over to Spain where there is a border city. So that was how everything started. There are a lot of things that happened in this journey that I wouldn’t like to say but at the end of the day, through this journey, I saw myself in Europe and it was hell. It was during this desert time that I promised God that if I survived it, I would come back home to Nigeria and save our young boys from taking this terrible risk as I did.

What about the man that took you all from Lagos?

 During this time, the collection guy that took us from Lagos was nowhere to be found. We never saw him again. Their modus operandi is that when they get to Niger Republic, they will hand us over from one Mafia to another that will be in charge of connection from Niger Republic to Algeria, from Algeria they will connect us again to another person that will take us to another city. This is how it goes till we get to the place we wait for connection to board the ship again and then you have to pay for it. So most of us, when you stay there, they will ask you to call, sometimes you have to stay in the bush for a very long time. When it is your turn, they will bring you in and give you the opportunity to call your loved ones in Nigeria or Europe to send you money so that they will be able to cross you over. So these are the way they will be getting money from you. Sometimes, those people will send money to you because if your loved one finds out that you are in this kind of mess, they will do everything to save you to make sure that you are alive. So in this way, they collect lots of money from people. Sometimes, they will collect it from your people and refuse to give it to you. Sometimes too, you get the money and they will steal it from you and that is how it happens till you get an opportunity to get your own time, to be cost provided. It will cost you like $800. Then, another thing that happened, I was having this sleeping tablet with me, Cipron. Immediately I took it, I will sleep off for a long time. It helped me forget about anything going on around me because it is a journey of life and death. If anything happened, it’s only God that saves and we can’t do anything to save ourselves. Most of us didn’t know how to swim. Even if you can swim, we have never swam in an ocean before. So we faced a whole lot of challenges. During that ordeal, it was even in Algeria that I told God that I didn’t want to travel again because it was not the initial plan that we had to come to Algeria and play for a club. There was no connection with playing football anymore. I even stopped thinking about playing football. I was just thinking about my life and how to survive. I told God, ‘I don’t want to lose my life. I want you to keep me alive and I promise that if you save me from death, I will start up a project for football where I will discourage illegal migration by people that are desperate to travel and I’ll set up an academy that will help them to develop their dream. To be Cont’d…


Comments

Ads


©2018 FIDES Communications