Yankuba crossed deserts, was jailed, sold and beaten, and risked the Mediterranean to find a new life. Here he talks about a typical day in his new home, Naples
The annoying sound of ambulance sirens hurrying along the busy Neapolitan highway is pretty much what I wake up to every morning. The noise of street vendors and kids yelling at each other just a stone’s throw away from my bedroom window is almost always the signal that dawn is breaking in Naples. I jump out of bed and walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I usually make breakfast then have a quick shower before eating.
I live in a shared apartment with two other people about three kilometres from central Naples. My daily routine is mostly bed to kitchen to bathroom to books and computer unless I visit friends or have them round. Immediately after breakfast, I switch on my computer and start reading the subject of the day. I spend my morning hours reading chemistry and biology as I’m getting ready for my international medical admissions test in September. I have a lot riding on getting into medical school. My friends now call me “the hope”, citing that a lot of African migrants have died while trying to get medical aid and that having a migrant doctor would literally be “the hope” for us. This makes me sad but it also fuels my determination to get into medical school.
I would usually read on my computer for about three hours till around midday when I give a one-hour English lesson to an 11-year-old by Skype. You might think it’s easy having English conversations with someone who’s 11 but it’s not. I always have to prepare for the lesson and find new ways to keep the conversation interesting and constantly grab his attention. But it’s worth it as I get five euros for every hour of conversation.
In the early afternoon my daily routine continues with cooking lunch. I would normally have friends round but at the moment we rarely meet up due to the pandemic. Having people over lightens up my mood a little. I take a long break from books and screens and we would usually play music and show some dance moves, Gambian style. All my Gambian friends are migrants just like myself and we often pass the time together talking about our daily experiences, what it means to be a black migrant in Italy, the racism, the xenophobia and the prejudice. Sometimes we even talk about life as it was in Libya, how we were maltreated, sold, beaten, imprisoned and how we lost friends to gunshot wounds and the Mediterranean. All this coupled with some Jamaican dancehall music is our unique way of comforting each other, our post-traumatic escape…
This is an extract from a longer piece which appears in Idler 75, Nov/Dec 2020.
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