Written By: Ousman Umar
Published By: Amazon Crossing
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
Some time ago, I was offered a bunch of free books from Amazon for my Kindle. Each was from a different culture and some were memoirs. I love when Amazon offers stuff like this as it offers me an opportunity to learn about other countries, cultures, traditions, etc. One of the books I was offered was North to Paradise by Ousman Umar a book about a young man’s journey from his homeland of Ghana to Europe. What a compelling story!
Ousman Umar lost his mother during childbirth but lived a good life with his father in a small village in Ghana. When he reached the age of twelve and began learning a trade, Ousman set his sights on something more lucrative. He had heard tales of the “Land of the Whites,” where there was money to be made for someone who was willing to work hard to get it. What Ousman didn’t realize was how treacherous and devastating a journey to Libia could be, especially if you made the journey with untrustworthy guides. At one point Ousman finds himself walking across the Sahara desert, having lost most of the people in his group to exhaustion, thirst, etc.
When he finally reaches the end of the Sahara, he finds it hard to live in the various harsh cities he encounters. He finds it hard to find work, but eventually makes enough to take him on a dangerous adventure to cross the water into Europe. The journey through the desert is dangerous enough, but traveling the water in dinghies packed to the brim with other hopefuls can be disastrous. His first attempt proves to be just that as he learns of the death of his best friend, drowning when his boat overturned in the harsh conditions.
Ousman finally makes it to Europe, but learns that the paradise he dreams of is still out of reach. He doesn’t speak or read the language, has had very little schooling, and doesn’t really have a skill or a trade he can offer. How will he survive in Europe? Where is the “Land of Whites” that he heard of, the paradise that he was supposed to thrive in?
North to Paradise is a captivating tale of perseverance, hope, and compassion. Ousman Umar is an excellent storyteller and his descriptions of what he went through on his journey from Ghana to Spain is incredible. I could actually picture everything that occurred in his story perfectly in my mind’s eye. I am amazed at the strength Ousman showed at such a young age, going though all he had to get to Europe from Ghana would have crushed a weaker soul. The compassion he was shown by the people who would become his adoptive parents in Spain is amazing and heartening in a world that has become so negative and selfish-seeming. What Ousman eventually achieved after arriving in Spain is nothing short of incredibly admirable. Ousman overcame overwhelming adversity to get to where he is now and his willingness to give back to his people is worthy of praise.
North to Paradise is an incredibly uplifting story, well-written and fast-moving. Osman Umar is a gifted and talented storyteller who doesn’t shy away from the difficult parts of his journey in a effort to give readers an understanding of all that countless individuals just like him go through on a daily basis trying to leave their village lives in search of paradise. North to Paradise is a memoir well worth the read.
Check out North to Paradise at Amazon