Kingsley’s Crossing

Kingsley’s Crossing

A 23-year-old lifeguard from the impoverished town of Limbe, Cameroon embarks on a harrowing journey that takes him halfway across Africa.

Kingsley is a 23-year-old lifeguard from the West African coastal town of Limbe, Cameroon. Though he longed to be a professional footballer, French soldiers trained him to become a lifeguard, and Kingsley soon found himself working at an upscale hotel giving swimming lessons to visiting Europeans. He earned just 50 euros a month, enough to pay for food and the rented two-room house he shared with his parents and seven siblings.

“Most families in my country want their children to go to Europe,” Kingsley says. It is in Europe – the new El Dorado – that African immigrants can vastly increase their incomes while also providing for their families back home. So, in May of 2004, Kingsley left Cameroon on what he calls “his mission.” What followed was an excruciating six-month journey across half of Africa.

Kingsley’s Crossing is the story of one man’s willingness to abandon everything – his family, his country, and his friends – in the hopes of finding a better life abroad. Award-winning French photojournalist Olivier Jobard documents the passage.

This tale of one person’s dream to escape from Africa to provide a better life for his family by working in Europe shows the aspirations of thousands condensed into one impactful story. The viewer realizes both the subject and the photojournalist easily could have died at sea during this project had their sinking small boat not been rescued. A close-up picture of two 1-liter bottles flattened and worn as sandals summarizes in one image the motivation behind this journey—and all the others like it, whether they succeed or fail. The careful addition of captions ensures viewers do not miss a word as we listen to Kingsley tell his story.

Length: 20:26

Photography & Video: Olivier Jobard/Sipa Press

Graphics: Jody Sugrue & Vincent Diga

Producers: Brian Storm and Eric Maierson