Book Review – A Gamble With Death by Kelechi Goodluck Onuoha

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A Gamble With Death by Kelechi Goodluck Onuoha

Colonialism left most African countries internally fragmented because it joined together tribes that had numerous conflicts in traditions

The word and the concept of ‘Human trafficking’ was commonly used when I was growing up and like things we hear but never sensitize, it did not hold any importance to me. I read Omo by Alexander Emmanuel Ochogwu and it reminded me of the concept but reading A Gamble With Death, took me on a journey.


Kelechi Goodluck Onuoha was a regular Nigerian with big dreams to attend the university, be a lawyer and live the good life. He tells his story in this book, life did not act according to the script he wrote. Failure to meet the required score for the university of his choice made him stay at home for a year where he engaged in other ventures like selling second-hand refrigerators. It was in this course he came across a man who sold the fallacy that he could reach Europe in two weeks illegally and become more than his original dreams

To someone hustling in Nigeria, the idea of going to Europe is fascinating. Who doesn’t want a better life? In A Gamble With Death, Onuoha recounts his tale of journeying through Niger, the Sahara desert, Algeria, Morocco and the Mediterranean sea. A supposed journey of two weeks did not only roll over to months but three years. Over three years of constant struggle, getting close to death, horrifying experience, grief, depression, little wins, compromise and above all survival.

Onuoha does not make his this book effusive with his experiences, he shares stories and conversations of people he met in his journey.

The day I left Nigeria to embark on that journey, I was of the belief that in two weeks, more or less, I would be in Europe. The same also was the belief of so many, many who paid with their lives. In the end, it took me three years, a month and a week of constant gambles with death before I set my foot on the soil of Europe


I say it every time that I thoroughly enjoy reading other people’s life experiences. I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS. From the heart wrenching details of how people die in Sahara desert to the dehumanizing tale of how deportees were treated left me astonished with questions to ask.

I have never thought that someone who traveled illegally would ever share their story, I did not even know that people still traveled illegally. This book gives details of everything that happened up to the point he sailed to Europe. It was hard to empathize. There was a point he paid to drink urine due to extreme thirst.

I learnt a lot from the book and was exposed to things that ordinarily I would never know. I chuckled at the ridiculousness of some events and the sense of humour of the author.

When I read people’s stories, I understand that it is their experience and they own it but in a way I wish the author did not try to be coy about some sexual things. Saying it as it is, makes it less awkward in my opinion. There were times I wanted to know the period or times certain things happened but I had no closure on that.

This book is an eye-opener, I thoroughly enjoyed the prologue, I think it is a necessary conversation we should have. I was elated when I read the prologue, definitely one of my favourite parts about the book.

The end was gripping, of course I wanted to know what happened in Europe because the blurb says the author now lives in Spain but I am not going to be an Oliver Twist, I will accept and be grateful that the author chose to tell his story.


Yes, yes, yes! This book is a necessity. The truth is, without exposing our minds to information and people’s experiences, we will never see the HUMAN in human trafficking or the individuals behind ABUSE. It made me realize that I actually knew little of what was really going on around me. A Gamble With Death is unique to the author and I think it will be a unique reading experience for you too. It is a 4/5

Title: A Gamble With Death: One Man’s Desperate Journey To Europe Through The Sahara Desert and The Mediterranean Sea

Author: Kelechi Goodluck Onuoha

Publisher: Naira Books

Source: Naira Books

This book was given to me by Naira Books in exchange for an honest review.



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