Our Lady’s Missionaries stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all anti-Black Racism movements. OLMs who lived and worked in Nigeria have expressed their solidarity in a particularly personal way.
Sr. Rosemary Williamson:
Colonization in Nigeria was founded on racism and the assumption that Black people were inferior to white Europeans or at worst sub-human. While the colonizers were busy exploiting both the people and the resources they also tried to destroy the vibrant culture which had existed before their arrival. As time passed some tribes were given opportunities for education and training to meet some of the needs of the structures set up for trading and governance.
Since Independence, this favoritism continues to create deep divisions between the north and the south of the country. Tribalism remains a source of violence and is exacerbated by the struggle for land.
Racism is evident in the attitudes of the World Bank and other International organizations and multi-nationals which continue to exploit the resources while failing to recognize the wisdom and gifts of the Africans.
We were in Nigeria when Barak Obama was elected president of the United States and the joy and pride of the people was incredible. The solidarity expressed in Nigeria with the Blacks of the United States now in the movement Black Lives Matter is rooted in their own history.
While the focus now may be on the United States the response from other countries reveals how racism exists world wide. This is an opportunity to address the insidious roots of racism and begin to establish a new world order based on our shared humanity.
Sr. Gwen Legault:
Black Lives Matter – All Black Lives. When I was assigned to live and work in Nigeria in 1974 I discovered that deaf children were excluded from getting an education. I thank God that I had already studied to be a teacher of the deaf and had teaching experience in Mexico, and so was able to realize the challenge to open a school for the deaf in Vadeikaya, Benue State.
It was the Feast of St. Francis De Sales, January 24, in 1975 when the ribbon was cut at a humble round hut with wooden shutters to welcome in the light, so essential for the deaf to read signs or gestures. Six children enrolled.
In time that tiny seed grew to what we find today on the outskirts of Vandeikya. To read more see Building Bridges, Weaving Hope in the Summer 2004 edition of the Scarboro Missions Magazine.