Last updated on February 10th, 2021 at 11:55 am
The house destroyed, the husband killed and the two children seriously injured; then, a few years later, the kidnapping. The story of Amina, a Christian woman from Nigeria, is the story of thousands of Christians who have to deal with the violence of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen every day. According to Open Doors, a non-profit organization that monitors the persecution of Christians, every day in Nigeria an average of ten people are killed, “guilty” only of being Christians.
The broken life
Amina’s life was first overwhelmed by Boko Haram on October 2, 2012, as she told Premier Christian News. A group of terrorists raided her home in Maiduguri, Borno, one of the 36 federated states that make up Nigeria. Islamic extremists stole all the valuables in the house, then focused on Amina’s husband and two children who were barely teenagers: they wanted all three to renounce the Christian faith. They would not accept, however, and so began a terrible beating that killed the father. The two sons were saved. Amina says that it was a miracle, given the violence of the blows suffered; but the boys were rushed to hospital and remained there for weeks.
In June 2017, Amina was traveling on a bus. The vehicle was stopped by Boko Haram, the passengers taken as hostages, and underwent persistent indoctrination in an attempt to push them to abandon their faith. They never stopped praying in secret, however, and were eventually released.
Hoping is difficult
Now Amina is able to tell about those years, thanks to a long spiritual and psychological journey made together with Open Doors. Episodes like this are repeated more and more often, but they don’t manage to conquer the headlines of the 8 p.m. news: the pressure of European public opinion determines what is and isn’t reported. The Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria recently launched an appeal, through Aid to the Church in Need, to the entire West: “Tell about the atrocities happening in Nigeria. In this way our government may feel pressured to act. Our hope is that the nations of the EU and the U.S. will feel a moral obligation to protect the lives of Christians and all Nigerians who are constantly being attacked and killed by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen”. The United States of America has intervened, making Nigeria a specially watched nation by the State Department precisely because of the constant attacks on the Christian community; but Europe is slow to make its voice heard.
Each new day of silence, however, covers the din of rampant Christianophobia in the country. On 15 January last, Fr. John Gbakaan, parish priest of St Anthony’s Church in Gulu, in the Nigerian diocese of Minna, was barbarously killed. The Catholic priest was returning with his brother (still in the hands of the terrorists) from a visit to his elderly mother, when the car was blocked and the two brothers were kidnapped. The terrorists demanded a ransom from the diocese of Minna, but in the meantime the lifeless body of the priest, killed with a machete, was found. Only a few weeks earlier, the auxiliary bishop of Owerri and his driver were kidnapped, and again, on December 14, 2020, several students from a Catholic school were kidnapped by Boko Haram. Of these young people, to date, there is no certain news. Like them, many lives are in danger and do not receive help from local institutions which, when not tainted by corruption, act in favor of extremists out of fear and convenience.