My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Igboland is an African historical story. It’s set in Nigeria in the late 1960’s at a time of civil conflict. Nigeria had up to 200 tribes and internal politics were immense. The conflict boiled down to a war for power, oil and tribal dominance. This is not a true story, but one made up around facts of the time.
Into this dangerous situation went Reverend Clem Davie and his 19 year old wife Lydia as missionaries. In July 1967 they settled into their new home, the Methodist compound in the village of Ngkaluka amongst the Igbo people in this West African country. The village had recently been bombed and the couple immediately helped the villagers rebuild their lives. They worked with local Dr Kwento Umuwezie and were helped by other white settlers.
Clem’s role was to oversee many local churches and schools, while Lydia struggled with the African living conditions and climate. She was very interested to learn about the local Igbo culture and religious spirituality which varied from the western civilisation and one god religion.
Lydia began to question the role of a missionary;
” They think we offer an escape from poverty and sickness, but we really just take them away from their tribal culture.”
As the conflict increased around them making travel near impossible Lydia found that the tribal instincts ran deep and that any white man who got in the way only had himself to blame.
There were many occasions when the Africa fought back, the Igbo explained that they had a 4 day week and the white man’s 7 days, didn’t fit with their own language, they only had four names for days. Servants let them down or stole from them. they had a saying WAWA – West Africa Wins Again to explain away some of the hardships.
Clem’s determination to help increased as the war continued and he went off on missions with Charlotte to rescue Igbo’s, putting his life at risk. They helped a young woman called Grace who had been brutally attacked and she became a good friend to Lydia, helping set up a local clinic with the help of Dr Umuwezie.
In the end WAWA when both Lydia and Clem returned to England short of their 6 year contract due to different reasons, but it wasn’t the end for them either.
I’d never heard of the Igbo and was interested in their spiritual beliefs. They root in very ancient times. Sadly you can see that the fight for dominance by man causes conflict and suffering as people lose their freedom; freedom to live, freedom to worship, freedom to love.
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