Alpha is part
graphic novel, part heartbreaking memoir of cabinetmaker Alpha Coulibaly. It
chronicles the story of a man on a journey to find his family and a better
life, but his story could easily apply to the tens of thousands others who are
seeking refuge. This is the painful tale of the refugee journey.
Alpha is from Cote
d’Ivoire, Africa. The book is written in first person, in a manner as if the
reader and Alpha are sitting together at a coffeeshop, as a family member or
dear friend would recant their trials and tribulations to a trusted confidant.
The text is blunt, matter of fact, but also painfully deep and poetic.
about Alpha’s desire to reconnect with his family, whom he believes made it to
Paris and to his sister-in-laws salon. He explains the futile process of
attempting to go through the government sanctioned means of gaining access to
other countries, which proves to be impossible. The only remaining option is to
attempt to steal away by paying smugglers to help him cross border after
border. This means long trips in overcrowded vans, treks by foot, and even
precarious watercrafts. The journey is harrowing, and soul crushing. Death is
looming around every bend, whether by illness, dehydration during these long,
crowded desert drives, or by the hand of crooked armed border guards. Days turn
to weeks, weeks to months, and eventually years. Many perish in their journey,
but Alpha remains steadfast in his commitment to find his child and wife
despite the unfavorable odds. He endures death of fellow refugees, friends, and
children. He is forced to live in slums in each new country he enters and work
laborious odd jobs to pay off smuggler after shady smuggler at each never
ending leg of his journey. This is a tale of the many who are treated like
unwanted pieces of trash, balled up and thrown into slums, labeled as “illegal
immigrants,” and all so they can have the chance of a better life for them, and
for their families.