Hardly ever has a book touched me like this one. A way only reality can touch you. Together with Fabrizio Gatti I have crossed the Sahara on board of a truck full of (future) illegal immigrants. It’s a business and a never-ending repetition of human tragedy.
Bilal is a true story. It’s the story of Italian journalist who infiltrates the new slave trade of Africa: illegal immigration. Full of hope and ideas young men and women from Africa leave their countries and cross the Sahara to find a better life in Europe. But reality is harsh:
“12% of the people who embark in Libia or Tunisia never arrive in Europe. That means that among the 182 passengers on this truck 22 will die. And if all people of this truck survive, 44 will die from the next truck or maybe 66 of the following one…”
From Dakar Gatti travels to the oasis of the slaves (Dirkou), the haven of hope (Zuwara) and finally the island of reality (Lampedusa). He makes – and loses – friends and listens to the stories of hope and despair while getting to the edge of his own strenghts. However, Gatti never leaves the poetic language aside, mixes daunting facts with moments of hope.
Bilal is a book describing the “immense Russian roulette” of the two continents: Africa and Europe. “Not the kind of roulette with the croupier in tailcoat and the turning wheel but the one with the pistol directed at the temple filled with one lethal bullet.
It’s not a happy book. But it talks about heroes, forgotten heroes of the world we live in.
For those of you who read Italian, here are a collection of articles written by Fabrizio Gatti.