“Imagine yourself visiting a community called Basa Komo in the FCT and all of a sudden, you come face-to-face with a crowd. You move closer and are confronted with a helpless infant, struggling to set himself loose from the grip of community leaders, who want to bury him alive”.
There are some stories you read and do a double take at the calendar to ascertain if we are really in 2013. The bizarre account of a missionary couple who witnessed the killing of twins and mothers whose children die within three months of a baby’s birth is one of them.
This is coming 98 years after the death of Mary Slessor, the Scottish missionary to Nigeria, who led crusades that stopped some societies from killing twin babies at birth.
Sun News in a report published today, recounted the story of Olusola Stevens, the North Central Director of the Christian Missionary Foundation (CMF) and his wife who witnessed the practice of killing infants or burying some alive with their dead mothers even in the domain of the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the report, in Bassa Komo, Abuja, it is 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.
He has been in the FCT since the late 80s, reaching out to the people in Bassa Komo, the Gbagyi Yama and the Ganagana. His Foundation has been able to rescue some of the children, some of whom have been reunited with their families, even though they are still living with the Stevens.
How they are killed
Twins: When they are delivered, they will be poisoned (the child dies gradually) or 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.
Mum’s death after 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.
Stevens noted that up to 40 villages are still involved in such practices in the Abuja. He also added that 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,” he told Sun News.
Stevens and his wife have now set up a home called the Divine Heritage Home where the rescued children live. So far, the foundation has rescued about 33 kids spread across several villages. Some of the kids were rescued at tender ages, a day old, two weeks old, a month old and so on.
At the time they started rescuing the children, one of them had asked the villagers if they would take the child back if after four years the child remains healthy. They bluntly refused, saying the evil spirit would still be in their bodies.
However, they have continued to preach to members of the community, shelter all the children and send them to school among many other philantropic activities. To read more about their works in Abuja, read the full Sun News report HERE.
We admire the courage of this couple and the good work they are doing with the foundation.