Africans continue to migrate across the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, where tens of thousands have drowned. In Libya, many suffer enslavement and other harsh treatment as they flee persecution or poverty, or both. Yet there have been few studies of their journey. This study, based primarily on some sixty interviews by the author in 2014–2016 with African migrants in Italy and France, provides a portrait of resilience, courage, and strategic decisions that differs sharply from media images of helplessness. It suggests reconsidering migrant networks and typologies in view of the breakdown and attempted repair of networks on these journeys, where categories blur, ranging from free to slave and back to free.