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North to Paradise: A Memoir (Paperback)
The inspiring true story of one man's treacherous boyhood journey from a rural village in Ghana to the streets of Barcelona--and the path that led him home.
Ousman Umar is a shaman's son born in a small village in Ghana. Though his mother died giving birth, he spent a contented childhood working the fields, setting traps in the jungle, and living off the land. Still, as strange and wondrous flying machines crisscrossed the skies overhead, Ousman dreamed of a different life. And so, when he was only twelve years old, he left his village and began what would be a five-year journey to Europe.
Every step of the way, as he traveled across the Sahara desert, through the daunting metropolises of Accra, Tripoli, Benghazi, and Casablanca, and over the sea aboard a packed migrant dinghy, Ousman was handed off like merchandise by a loose network of smugglers and in the constant, foreboding company of "sinkers" other migrants who found themselves penniless and alone on their way north, unable to continue onward or return home.
But on a path rife with violence, exploitation, and racism, Ousman also encountered friendship, generosity, and hope. North to Paradise is a visceral true story about the stark realities of life along the most dangerous migrant route across Africa; it is also a portrait of extraordinary resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges, the beauty of kindness in strangers, and the power of giving back.