Every now and again one reads a book about peril and survival and thinks, ‘I couldn’t have survived that.’ Such is the story of Justice Amin, a seventeen-year-old Ghanaian who set out overland in 2005 to make (almost two years later) ‘lampa-lampa’, the boat trip across the Mediterranean. Almost a million Africans are waiting today on the Libyan coast to make this trip (to destinations Justice and his friends barely understood but believed would be promised lands) but it will prove impossible for most of them. Nearly one hundred a day make the trip to the island of Lampedusa just off the Italian coast, and perhaps 2,000 of those who have tried have drowned.
It is not only the precarious crossing in the lampa-lampa boat – usually a rickety metal or wooden craft, or an easily punctured rubber one – that makes Justice’s voyage so dangerous. It is the two-year journey to reach the sea and the appalling living conditions and backbreaking