31 January 2009

Schindler's List, Nigeria - close, but not exactly

The riots in Jos, Plateaus State, Nigeria in November 2008 was a national tragedy. Widely reported around the world, the death toll according to the media varied between 300 and 700. The killing rampage started after a Local Government election that was believed to have been rigged. However it soon became sectarian, pitching Christians and Muslims against each other in a needless ethno-religious conflict.

Several innocent people were hacked to death including the widely reported case of a young man who was on national service in the city.

A lot of people went missing including the heavily pregnant sister of a friend. Mary Bayil, 44 was a Sunday School Teacher married to a Civil Servant. Her house had been burnt and in the ensuing melee, she was parted from her husband and her three children who had taken refuge in an army barrack.

Hoping that she would be found after things had settled down, the search for her proved abortive. Each time we phoned our friend, the answer was the same; she was nowhere to be found. In mid-January, we heard the good news that she had been found and that she had safely delivered a baby girl.

What made the story particularly interesting were the circumstances surrounding her safety. Like many other people, Mary had tried to escape from her house after it had been set on fire by the mostly Muslim mob. Given her state, she could not run as fast as others and became a sitting target for the mob.

Some Muslim ladies who were watching what was happening from their house and aware of what was about to happen quickly came out to her rescue and brought her inside their own home. Noticing that they had been seen by some of the mob, they dressed her up in the Muslim garb and moved her to another village. She had the baby in a hospital in the village and became seriously ill, drifting in and out of consciousness for weeks until she was found last week.

The Muslim women who saved her had their own Schindler moment and they delivered. They saved two lives and brought a wonderfully good twist to what was otherwise a tragic part of Nigeria’s history. Incredible! PostcardfromLagos

Update on 'Medicare' Trust

Happy New Year to all our readers and thank you for supporting ‘Postcard from Lagos’.

The response to the ‘Medicare’ post was overwhelming. Pledges of support came from Nigeria, Europe and North America. We have gone a step further to properly set up 'Medicare' as a charitable organisation and the registration process is ongoing. Apparently it is a long process to register a charity in Nigeria.

We have assembled a team of individuals to serve as the Board of Reference for the organisation.

Dr Bayo Adesioye

Mrs Jibike Agboola

Dr Ayodele Ajayi

Dr Tonye Ajiteru

Mr Stephen Clarke

Dr Sola Fola-Alade

Mrs Taiwo Mayuku

Dr Ovo Oghuvbu

Mr Segun Olasode

Mr Deoye Oshowole

Dr. George Sekoni

Mr Tayo Sonuga

Sola Wilton-Waddell

All of these people have been tapped because of their passion to make a difference in the lives of ordinary Nigerians. Each of them has brought to the Trust their wealth of experience including international charity, business and medical skills.

Appreciation to those who have pledged to support 'Medicare in some form. Further developments will be published here on 'Postcard from Lagos'.