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Momodou Hamadi Bah

Favourite quote/life motto:  Some experiences can be a good lesson to others. 

I am Momodou Hamadi Bah, a citizen of Gambia by birth. I am from a family of two sisters and two brothers who live in Gambia with my mother. I am not able to tell much about my father, who died early, when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My family first lived in rent in a place called Cassamance, an area between Gambia and Senegal, and then migrated to Gambia due to the late attack of rebel leaders in their first settlement in Cassamance.

I attended school in Gambia up to level 9, where I stopped due to some problems beyond my control. In my country, Gambia, I was a student until the day I ventured in this journey called “back way”: the motive or reasons behind my escape/moving from my country to Italy, as the situation was worthy for me to save my life and also to have my mother live free there in Gambia are as follows: in my country we have different tribes and ethnic groups, which have different customs, traditions and beliefs.

These tribes are: Fulla, Wollof, Jola, Mandinka, Serahullies and Akus. Among these tribes, I belong to the Fulla tribe, from which most imams of the country come, and they’re highly respected and honoured, because Gambia is an Islamic country, and a fully theocratic state.

The reasons to move were adultery and furnication. They are not very common in my country, because they’re something that doesn’t go by Islamic laws and the country’s customs and traditions, especially within the Fulla tribe, that my family belongs to. As I said earlier, they migrated from Cassamance to Gambia, where I was born.

I made all my career till grade 9. During the time of my schooling I had a girlfriend by the name of Awa Bal. We lived in the same village in Gambia. The name of my village is Jamwelly, in the CRR region of Gambia. There was a huge love and relationship between me and this girl during the time of primary school from grade 5 to grade 6. Our love continued to grow stronger as we grew up too. While I dropped out from school, she still attended it, and after school she visited me, and we were together as lovers.

The worst part of the scene is that girl’s family decided to marry her to another guy from the same village. The girl then invited me one day to tell me what her family planned about her getting married to the guy, but she insisted that she didn’t love him, and she wasn’t going to agree with that marriage.
During all this time we were in love and our love grew stronger, but the girl’s family did never want us to get married, because her family saw my family as poor, newcomers in the village, and struggling, so they never allowed us to get married.

Since the girl was promised in matrimony to that man, problem began, coming from my mind and all over within the village.
Our families were in chaos, but despite this the girl was convinced in our love and she always told me that she would have never broken our love to marry that man.

But despite this, she ended getting married that guy, and this added more and more problems and hatred between our families. Moreover, even after the marriage the girl still didn’t want to end our love, she said she loved me and couldn’t just end our love like that.
While she was married, she still used to visit me in my house; sometimes we agreed to meet somewhere else and had sex. Her husband also never gave up, he continuously followed us.
She always told me she loves me. Her family decided she wasn’t destined to me, but our dreams of love never collapsed. I also addressed her, but all she told me was that our meeting was decided by God, and she couldn’t be married to that guy while we had been together for a couple of years. Things keep going on like this, she was married but we were still together.

She took time and we dated on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our village is usually very lonely on Thursday, people go on Lumo day on Monday, and Tuesday is Faroos work day (rice field work). During these days she was always with me, and we went to dates and did what we want.
Her husband and everybody in the village were aware of our relationship, because he reported the matter to my family and all the village of Alkalo. There was nothing I could do for our relationship, as I had no place to go, we were together in the same village every day. I did not visit her, instead she was the one looking for me. Her husband was tempted, but still the girl couldn’t forget. He then decided that if he saw the two of us together, he would have killed me, and then he started stalking us behind bushes, working around, studying the situation.

One day, on Faroos day, this guy just walked towards us from behind a bush with a gun, I cannot explain exactly who gave him information of our whereabouts, neither were women or any other people around in the Faroos, but we immediately heard women screaming from the Faroos. While having sex with the girl, she suddenly stood up and saw that man running towards us with a gun.

I also rushed to enter a bush, she followed me but couldn’t find me; I slept in the bush that night, on the border with Senegal. Then, my mother called me and told me that man looked every day for my whereabouts at home. Remember that he reported this case to Alkalo, and said any day he met the two of us having sex he would have killed me. I couldn’t possibly go back home to my village. Actually I had nowhere to go. This is how I entered Kaolak, Senegal. I went from Senegal to Bamalco, Mali through the bushes.  In Bamalco I called my mum, and she advised me about where to go. She gave me small amount of money to buy tickets to enter Burkina Faso. Then I went from Burkina to Niami, Niger, from Niami to Agades, and from Agades we entered the desert to Sabah, Libya.We had a horrible life in Sabah. After a difficult journey we ended up in prison there, and we endured 9 months of mistreatments and tortures. Some people couldn’t withstand the prison tortures, many of them die, some were thrown into the desert without food; my life was just on bail in the prison in Libya. They shocked every part of my body with electric current and asked for a huge amount of money, which my family couldn’t afford to pay. In this prison, some died, some were lucky to survive; I was among them, until the day the prison was attacked by the Libyan natives to set us free. This is how we escaped from the prison in Libya. The continuous beatings on my head still hurt even after they freed us. I was seriously sick and wasn’t able to stand up, because you have to sit in one place all day and night.

My head was also affected by the continuous beatings, until I entered a boat to Italy. I can’t remember much, but I came here about 4 or 5 months ago. I didn’t know where I exactly was. I had completely lost my mind because of the beating but by the will of God I found myself in Italy. I said  “Thanks God, thanks Italy who rescued us in the rivers to Vibo Valentia”.  This is how I started my new life in Italy. They welcomed us and gave us all the necessary things, medicines, clothing and asked us to start a new life.This is all about my story, and now I am living a better life in Italy. It was very hard and difficult for me to begin a new life in Italy, after the horrible and painful things I encountered in that deadly place, called Libya.

It took time for me to realize that I am in Italy now. Sometimes, during my sleep I think I am still in Lybia, but after all I am very grateful and it’s a pleasure for me to live in Italy. This is the place where I’ve discovered the love of humanity, and realized the importance of living in an atmosphere of freedom and integrity. Life has changed in a far better way than before. I am really grateful. Future is very important, and my plans still remain strong as we work through all of this just to have strong future plans for the kids, who are the leaders of tomorrow. I have to show them the right directions to follow, maybe without meeting the same difficulties I went through in my life. This experience of mine will serve as a lesson for them to take the right steps in their life.

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