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Unveiling the Truth: Mary Slessor’s Role in Ending Twin Killings in Calabar

What you need to know more about

  • Mary Slessor, upon her arrival in Calabar in 1876, enforced a ban on twin killings in Okoyong, where she served as Vice President of the Native Court.
  • In essence, Mary Slessor’s legacy in ending twin killings is part of a broader narrative of collaborative activism and social change in Calabar’s history.

Did Mary Slessor truly abolish twin killings in Calabar? Contrary to popular belief, historians suggest otherwise.

In Calabar, twins were once considered a curse, often abandoned to perish in the wilderness due to prevailing cultural beliefs. The stigma attached to twins as bearers of misfortune perpetuated the practice of twin killings within the Efik community.

However, the battle against this barbaric tradition predates Mary Slessor’s arrival. Efforts initiated by Consul Beecroft, in collaboration with local leaders like Kings Eyo II and Archibong I, aimed to curb twin killings as early as 1849. Despite initial agreements, enforcement proved challenging, leading to military intervention in 1855.

Further attempts to eradicate twin killings ensued, with King Duke Ephraim and Efik chiefs pledging to abolish the practice in 1855, two decades before Slessor’s arrival.

Missionaries, including Rev. Edgerley, Rev. Hope Waddell, and Rev. Hugh Goldie, played pivotal roles in advocating against twin killings. Rev. Edgerley’s documented rescue of twins in 1852, coupled with diplomatic pressure from British consuls, contributed to the gradual decline of the practice.

Mary Slessor, upon her arrival in Calabar in 1876, enforced a ban on twin killings in Okoyong, where she served as Vice President of the Native Court. She rescued abandoned twins, providing them with sanctuary in Okoyong.

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While Slessor’s efforts are commendable, it was the collective endeavors of missionaries and diplomatic interventions that paved the way for the eventual cessation of twin killings in Calabar.

The statue of Mary Sessor in calabar

In essence, Mary Slessor’s legacy in ending twin killings is part of a broader narrative of collaborative activism and social change in Calabar’s history.

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