Ousman Umar is a shaman’s son, born in a small village in Ghana, and his mother died giving birth to him. The traditions of the Wala tribe dictate that this means the baby is cursed and must be abandoned and left to die. Fortunately, Ousman’s father was able to use his position as a shaman to save his son’s life. Ousman grew up working the fields, setting traps in the jungle, and living off the land. But he dreamed of a different life. So, when he was only twelve years old, he left his village and began what would become a five-year journey to Europe. On a path rife with violence, exploitation, and racism, Ousman also encountered friendship, generosity, and hope. In his memoir, North to Paradise, Ousman tells his visceral true story about the stark realities of life along the most dangerous route traversed across Africa; it is also a portrait of extraordinary resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges, the beauty of kindness in strangers, and the power of giving back. In this interview, I speak to Ousman Umar about this treacherous boyhood journey from a rural village in Ghana, to the streets of Barcelona, and the path that led him home. We discuss why he, and so many, decide to migrate. We talk about the perils and realities of migration, and how we, as a society can deliver better aid, and stop the needless deaths caused by migration.

Thought Economics

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