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Some wealthy businessmen travel with paramilitary escorts; police officers demand bribes at gunpoint, and crippled beggars crawl through traffic near the Oba’s palace, tapping on car windows and pleading for leftover food.
One day, I went to the Uwelu spare-parts market, where adolescent boys lift car engines into wheelbarrows, and bare-chested venders haggle over parts salvaged from foreign scrap yards. Blessing’s family used to own a house and a small plot of land.
Blessing’s older brother, Godwin, began repairing cars in Uwelu. When Blessing was thirteen or fourteen, she dropped out of school and started an apprenticeship with a tailor, but he wanted money to train her, and after six months he let her go.
She was despondent, and believed that she had no future.
For eight hundred years, black slaves and concubines were transported through the same remote desert villages.
Now that the old slave routes are ungovernable and awash in weapons, tens of thousands of human beings who set out voluntarily find themselves trafficked, traded between owners, and forced to work as laborers or prostitutes.
The Oba chose the name Ewuare II, in tribute to a predecessor who assumed the throne around 1440.
During the reign of Ewuare I, Benin City became the center of a powerful kingdom, which was eventually surrounded by more than nine thousand miles of moats and mud walls.
Then Qaddafi was killed, Libya descended into chaos, and its shores became impossible to police.was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli.At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies.Through friends, Blessing learned of a travel broker in Lagos, who said that he could get her a passport, a visa, and a plane ticket to Europe.Once Blessing found work there, he promised, she would earn enough to support the entire family. Nothing.’ ” Doris sold the house and the land, and gave all the money to the broker, who promptly disappeared.
Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.