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Migration History: Julian

Julian is 17 years old. Like Placide, he first came to Abeokuta at 14. He is from a poor family and explained that, in his home village, he and his parents had noticed that if people want a better life, they migrate to the gravel pits and then come back with money. His parents therefore contacted an extended family member who was a gravel pit patron and asked if he would take Julian back to work with him. The man agreed and in return paid to roof Julian’s parents’ home. When I interviewed him, Julian was on his second two-year contract and intended to continue working in the quarries until he was ‘liberated’ and free either to be a boss himself or to work as a solo labourer and on his own account.

Julian accepts that the work he does is hard, but he certainly doesn’t believe that it is too difficult for a young man like himself. He also fundamentally believes that it is worth it, since it is a way of earning relatively large sums of money. He earns 3000 Naira (around $18) every week when working for himself, which is no small sum for someone of his age and relative social standing. His daily routine is simple: from 8 a.m. until around midday he works for his patron, then he breaks with his team for lunch. They pick up tools again after lunch and continue working until around 5 p.m. At this point, work for the patron ceases, and Julian continues to work, but this time on his own account and for his own profit. He would recommend this work to anyone who is poor and needs to make some money. ‘Don’t steal or sit around idly’, he boisterously states, ‘come to Abeokuta!’

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