[Travel Film] Finding Mary Slessor

Two haunting images set me off on my Mary Slessor quest in May 2021; two images I have had with me for about a decade. One was printed in a booklet by the Akwa Ibom State government, the other by the Cross River State government. Deliberately or otherwise, both claim that the Scottish missionary Mary Slessor was buried in their states.

But how could that be? A person could only be buried in one grave, not two. So which was which? To get to the bottom of it, I flew to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, to find out. On arrival, I set up a meeting with journalist and producer, Ekemini Joseph; an Akwa Ibomite, he knows a great deal about the state’s history and he is my guide on this adventure to unravel one of the subtle mysteries of pre-colonial Nigeria.

Ms Slessor arrived in Calabar (Southern Nigeria) from Scotland as a Presbyterian missionary in 1876, aged 26. She spent her last living years in Itu, a hilly and scenic town, and died of fever in Use, a lowland community some distance away, in January 1915.

One of her most enduring legacies, as we were taught in social studies classes in the 1980s, is that she helped stop the killing of twins in communities that are today part of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.

This short documentary is about that quest and what I found on that journey. Please watch. I’d be glad to get your feedback in the comments window.

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