Wednesday, 27 March 2013


It's been 98 years since the death of Mary Slessor, the Scottish missionary to Nigeria who led crusades that stopped some societies from killing twin babies at birth. Such births were seen then as taboo and not tolerated.... it seems some communities in Nigeria, even today, are out to rubbish and undo what Slessor did.

 It might shock you to hear that there is still a community that still sees twins or multiple birth as abomination. But it is more confounding to find that the communities are in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). How awful that even within the world’s newest city, with all the trappings of modernity, the preponderance of religions and inclinations that abhor killing of human beings, twin kids are still sacrificed to the gods of tradition that don’t want them alive like the biblical story of the notions that passed their babies through the fire of Molech.

According to Olusola Stevens and his wife. Stevens is the North Central Director of the Christian Missionary Foundation (CMF). 
They discovered some strange practices among the Bassa Komo (Gbajingala clan) that endanger the lives of children and asked God for an opportunity to save some of the children from the clutches of death....In the Bassa Komo (Gbajingala clan) it is an abomination to be born a twin; or if a mother dies within three months of a baby’s birth; or if a child grows upper teeth first or is born with defect. These are all faults of the baby or babies involved. To the people of the community, these are signs that such babies were fabricated in the factory of the devil and are themselves evil. Such offences by the evil baby or babies are punishable by burial alive.

“If you are not very observant, you will not know this practice is going on and it took us some time to actually confirm. Some of the enlightened indigenes of the area deny the practice, maybe out of shame, but it is still happening till date,” Stevens confirmed.

Killing twins
They are considered as strange spirits and not fit to live among men. When they are delivered, they will be poisoned (the child dies gradually) or is strangulated after being forcefully taken from the mother by masquerades that women are not allowed to see. Once they are killed, an altar will be raised on the walls of their huts to worship their spirits and make sacrifices to ward them off from returning. They believe the dead children are spirits that want to come back but they are not welcome.

Mum’s death after birth
Another outrageous practice is the killing of babies whose mothers die after their birth. If a woman delivers and dies during childbirth, the child will be tied to the body of the dead mother and buried alive with her. If the nursing mother should die of any cause without weaning the baby, the baby will be accused of having strange powers that killed the mother, the penalty for this is also death. In some villages, the children may be abandoned on the grave of the dead mother while some are left unattended to in the village, leading to starvation and eventual death.

Wrong teeth child
A child that grows upper teeth first is also bound to die. The couple discovered that babies that grow the upper teeth first are also killed because they are bad omen. This is neatly done, an outsider may never know when and how unless you understand their language and pay close attention to young babies in the area.

According to Stevens, the practice is not common among the Abuja indigenes alone, “We also learnt from some other agencies that we work closely with that twins are not allowed to live in Uturu, Abia State.”

“There is also sacrificing of young children to the fertility god during planting season to have bountiful harvest that is common amongst the Bassa. They don’t physically slaughter the baby but once they pick a baby, a child that is healthy now will mysteriously die. You will hear the child cry and complain of a minor ailment and the next minute, he or she is dead. We have two children in this category, they were brought to us by their mothers so as to save them from being sacrificed by their fathers,” the rescuer couple hinted.

More odds
If a woman delivers triplets or quadruplets, they will be thrown into the Gurara River or strangled and later buried in the bush.

The couple said they learnt that Gbagyi Yama also practise killing of twins but “we are yet to rescue any child. We were to rescue a set of twins two years ago but they did not allow us. They were taken to the ancestral home and usually the babies will not return if taken there.”

The villages in these practices today are up to 40. Some of them are in Gwagwalada Area Council, more of them in Abaji, some in Kwali and part of Kuje.

“Since I live among them, we have missionaries, working in those villages. There are even natives, who are no longer comfortable with the practice after hearing the word of God and they run to tell non-native missionaries once they are about to kill twins or any other child. We tell them if you don’t want these ‘evil’ children, give them to us; we want them.”

A Home for the ‘evil’ kids
To really settle down and handle the rescue assignment, the couple had to set up a home, the Divine Heritage Home as an offshoot of the missionary work in the interiors.

Culled from Sun 

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