Presbyterian Church celebrates centenary of Mary Slessor
TO commemorate the great works of the late Scottish missionary, Mary Slessor, who sacrificed herself in order to put to an end the practice of killing twins and other fetish practices in Calabar, Cross Rivers state in the 19th century.
The entire congregation, particularly, members of the Women’s Guild of Uratta Parish of the Presbyterian Church, near Owerri, Imo State, last Sunday celebrated in grand style the centenary of the death of the female missionary worker.
In their separate speeches, Rev Ndume Upkai, the President of the Women Guild of the church, Mrs. Chinyere Uduma and an official of the guild, Dr. Mgborie Nwankwo Obasi, a church Elder, expressed their gladness that what she stopped, such as barbaric traditional practices (killing of twins, triplets, calabash and fetish beliefs), were stopped while Christianity was held onto firmly in the area. She was greatly influenced by David Livingstone, a missionary and explorer, who died in 1874.
The women later marched through the major streets of Owerri, conscientising and sensitizing people on the good works of Mary Slessor who, at the age of 27 in Efik, Calabar, dismantled the superstitious belief held by the people.
According to Obasi: “Today, we have twins; they are no more killing them. They are no more killing triplets. So what we are doing today is important to the world. Christianity has taken over the world. She (Slessor) sacrificed her life as a young girl. She left the comfort of her home in Scotland at the tender age of 27 and came to Nigeria to do a lot of work.”
The late Slessor, died in January 13, 1915 at the age of 67. Her daughter, Janie and her other children were beside her to comfort her before she passed on.
During her commemoration in 1913, she was awarded the Maltese Cross by the Order of St John. Her exploits were noted in Britain as the “White Queen of Okoyong.” Clydesdale Bank also issues bank notes till date, with her portrait embossed on the 10-pound note.
In Nigeria, the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria sets aside a Sunday every year to remember her. She was also honoured with a Church, Mary Slessor Church; Slessor Roundabout, statues, streets names and Avenue in Calabar, among other monuments in her remembrance.