I am old. I left Cameroon back in 2000. I had tried for three years to get away, and I was sent back to Cameroon three times. I spent some time in Algeria and it was hell on earth - they say Jesus hasn’t passed by there. One day I was taken behind a ghetto and shown the graves of those who didn’t make it. I was asked: “Do you want to follow them?” Many people will try to discourage you, but when you decide to take this route there is no room for discouragement.
I never had the “European dream.” I left because I was young, and bored of seeing and doing the same things every day. I had no idea where I was going -- along the way, I decided to try for Europe. Back then, there were no transit points through Libya, people mostly went through Morocco. On the day I made the crossing we were in the water at 11pm, and on Spanish land by 6am the next day. I had one life jacket. Five of us left, but only two made it to the other side.
From Spain I went to France, then Italy and finally Germany. I made a life for myself there. I started learning metallurgy, I got married and had a kid. My parents-in-law didn’t like me at all. In the beginning it was fine, but then little by little my wife started seeing it their way as well.
I’ve convinced all the Cameroonians I’ve met during my return journey to go back home. You’re not going to find paradise abroad. Life is not the same, and I missed Cameroon throughout my time in Europe. Germans understand for example that you have something they don’t, and they approach you and try to understand what that is, but some Europeans can be very racist. They sometimes even said it to my face: “I don’t like black people.” It’s not their fault, they aren’t used to seeing a lot of black people. We are always scared of the unknown.
My biggest dream now is to have a family that supports me. I’ll try to start a project when I get back to Cameroon, but if it doesn’t succeed I’m going back to Europe. You can’t stay in Africa if you don’t have any money. As for the route, they may close the borders but people always find a way. When you fill up one hole, another one is being dug.