His journey began eighteen months ago and took him 6,000 miles across Africa. It is not, however, the distance covered in his quest to reach Europe that is the most remarkable aspect of Hennessy’s odyssey but the horrors he survived along the way.
Hennessy, aged 19, has endured death threats in Juba, torture in Tripoli and crippling poverty in Cairo.
He fled his home in Juba, South Sudan in June 2016 after his family discovered that he was gay and threatened to kill him. He headed for Egypt in search of safety and a new life but quickly found himself penniless, begging in the streets of Cairo among other refugees. They convinced him that his dreams lay in Europe, that he should try to reach Libya and chance the treacherous sea crossing to Italy.
It was a risk that almost cost him his life, a life that began, improbably, in Chingford, Essex and Hackney, east London where his father had practised as a dentist before returning home to South Sudan in 2011. “I was kidnapped and tortured twice in Libya by militias,” he said from Cairo, where he is now camping on sofas.
“The first was immediately after I was smuggled in a jeep to east Libya. I had to be rescued by the smuggler who paid my ransom. When I flew to Tripoli to try to get to Italy I was taken at the airport and held in an underground prison,” he said.
Every morning his kidnappers lined the migrants up on the ground and whipped them with pipes until their families paid a ransom. He was eventually saved by the Libyan security forces and taken to the filthy Tariq al-Siqqa migrant centre under Tripoli airport, which he said was almost worse. It was there that The Times first met Hennessy, crammed in with 1,300 migrants.
Bel Trew, Amara West, Sudan
They say the swarms of biting black flies can turn even the calmest men mad when they take over this area of Sudan in the spring. The bugs, however, are just one of the plagues facing British Museum archaeologists at the Amara West dig, 430 miles north of Khartoum. They are also battling scorpions, camel spiders as big as your fist, and crocodiles on the banks of the nearby Nile.
This area may be uncomfortable for the experts working there but it is one of the most exciting frontiers in archaeology. A team of ten is racing to excavate a 3,300-year-old Pharaonic town that is shedding new light on how Egypt’s rulers controlled the Nubian territory that they conquered to the south of their heartlands.
Amara West was the centre of Pharaonic administration between 1300 and 1070BC and as it is excavated the team is able to unearth history and correct assumptions about Nubia.
There was no written form of the Nubian language so for 200 years Egyptologists scrutinised the ancient civilisation through the lens of the damning hieroglyphs of Pharaonic propaganda, in which the Nubians were described as a simple people who needed to be civilised by the advanced dynasties of Egypt.
The latest research at Amara West and other key sites in this area has unveiled the truth, however — the civilisation was sophisticated, and under Egyptian occupation in the 2nd millennium BC there was a blending and borrowing of cultures.