Mary Slessor popularly known in history for stopping the killing of twins in a particular ethnic nationality in Nigeria, was a Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Her work and strong personality allowed her to be trusted and accepted by the locals while spreading Christianity, protecting native children and promoting women’s rights. She is credited with having stopped the killing of twins among the Efik, Ibibio ethnic group in Nigeria.
In August 1888, Slessor traveled north to Okoyong, an area where previous male missionaries had been killed. She thought that her teachings and the fact that she was a woman would be less threatening to unreached tribes. For 15 years, Slessor lived with the Okoyong and Efik people. She learned to speak Efik, the native language and made close personal friendships wherever she went becoming known for her pragmatism and humour. Slessor lived a simple life in a traditional house with Efiks.
Her insistence on lone stations often led Slessor into conflicts with the authorities and gained her a reputation for eccentricity. However, her exploits were heralded in Britain and she became known as the “white Queen of Okoyong”. Slessor continued her focus on evangelism, settling disputes, encouraging trade, establishing social changes and introducing Western education. It was the belief in Calabar that if a woman had twins, one of them had to be a devil so the twins were left in the jungle in clay pots to die.
Mary Slessor successfully fought against the practice of killing twins at infancy. In 1892, Slessor became vice-consul in Okoyong, presiding over the native court. In 1905 she was named vice-president of Ikot Obong native court. In 1913 she was awarded the order of St. John of Jerusalem. Mary Slessor finally died in Calabar in 1915.
The stories of the heroes and heroines highlighted above, are just a few of the avalanche of stories in history, of men and women who lived and died as FREEDOM FIGHTERS. And if you will apply your probing and analytical mind, reading the stories above, you will identify a vital ingredient that led these men and women to victory in their fight. That ingredient is ” SELFLESSNESS”.
These were men and women without any iota of selfishness. They had died to themselves. In other words, they first conquered themselves. They lived, willing to die for something bigger than their selfish personal ambitions.
The true freedom fight is the fight to conquer ones self. It is more of a mental engagement than a physical combat. It is a fight in your mind. You will never be able to conquer your environment and the world and enjoy freedom unless you conquer yourself.
In the words of the foremost “televangelist” Chris Oyakhilome DSc. DD, and I quote:
“Hang up your hang ups; Conquer your
In life you are only free in earnest when you become free from yourself.