One of the acclaimed achievements of Mary Slessor, the pre-colonial Scottish missionary to Nigeria, was that she stopped the killing of twins. However, events happening in Basa Komo community in Kwali Area Council FCT, Abuja, among the Gbajingala clan prove otherwise. In the community, it is totally unacceptable and an abomination to give birth to a twin, and for a woman to die within three months after she gives birth. It is also an abomination when a child grows upper teeth first or when a child is born with any form of disability. To the inhabitants of the community, these are signs that the child is from the evil world and the punishment for such a child is to be buried alive.
When twins are born, they are given poison to kill them. Alternatively, they are forcefully taken away from their mother by masquerades and strangled. After the killing of the twins, an altar would be erected in the house, a sacrifice to Tuwa, their deity, to ensure the twins do not return. If, in the parturition process, the woman dies, and the child survives, the child would not be allowed to live. The new-born will be tied to the corpse of the deceased mother and buried with her. However, if the nursing mother dies without weaning the infant, the baby will be killed; they believe the child is in possession of strange powers that are responsible for the death of the mother. Alternatively the twin will be dumped in their mother’s grave whereas some are left to die of hunger.
For intervention on this, Stevens and his wife at the moment have put in place Divine Heritage Home where the children that have been rescued now live. Presently, Christian Missionary Foundation (CMF) has rescued over thirty-three children spread across communities. The children have been sent to school and the foundation has continued to enlighten the community on why they should do away with such practices.
The foundation spends about N270, 000 (1,719 USD) monthly to take care of the children, some who like the initiative of the foundation who have schools grant the children waiver on their school fees. Also those of medical profession that are in love with what the foundation does with the children treat the children freely.
In an attempt to get the children reunion with their families, the families were asked if they could take the children at the age of four, they declined the offer on the ground that the evil spirit that brought the children to the world would still be living with them. They will not take them back, lest they incur the wrath of the gods.Stevens, the leader of the foundation, disclosed that over 40 communities practice this act in Abuja. He further revealed that such practices are also taking place in Uturu, Abia state where twins are not allowed to live.
Evidence has shown that these are not the only communities where children and women are killed as a result of community beliefs. Governments across West Africa focus their attention to urban centres with little or no concern in what happens in remote villages. Also civil society organisations have become so elitist and do not have rural communities as
their target audience thereby making community sensitization apparently difficult. Therefore interventions of this kind ought to be supported by both local and internal funding organisations particularly as it has to do with children and women. Apparently, if this intervention receives adequate support it ought to with the enthusiasm shown by this foundation, this practice is likely to do away in the next ten years. Conversely, if nothing
is done to support this foundation, there is the likely tendency that it may run out of fund, its walk put on hold and the killing of women and children resurfaces which will lead to the death of many children and women in years ahead.
Audu Liberty Oseni