50 years later, missionaries discuss Nigerian sponcered genocidal war against Biafra they witnessed


Robert Parham got the idea for the documentary after uncovering cryptic correspondence where his father wrote that he couldn’t share everything that happened. In a series of often tearful interviews, witnesses finally reveal the carnage they saw and actions they took.

“Fifty years later, I think there’s a certain freedom to tell the story,” Parham said. “They have a need to tell the story.”

He said viewers will understand better what foreign missionaries do in response to such violence. “They find themselves in this position where they are largely without power to stop it. They can’t get involved in civil government, and they’re not prepared for genocide. We want to encourage a more vigorous conversation about genocide and what the responsibility of the faith community is.”

The documentary outlines missionary efforts in Nigeria, the rise of the Igbo tribe to governmental power – which it sometimes abused – and the resulting backlash from the Hausa tribe. The narration explains that the violence wasn’t religious, even though the nation was divided among Christians generally to the south and Muslims to the north.



Tensions rose for months before the September massacre, an event described stoically in the film by the missionaries themselves and emotionally by their children. Missionaries hid Igbos in rafters, storage rooms and abandoned houses. When the violence ended, they emerged to find their neighbors hacked to pieces or beaten to death with stones.

Survivors gathered at the police station to await air transport out of the region, and the missionaries and their children gave them food and water, picked maggots out of their wounds and, in some cases, watched them die.

“I remember overhearing one Igbo say to the other, ‘Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord, I shall repay,’” Parham said. “He was offering scripture to a man who was talking about seeking revenge.

“My family just didn’t talk about it. My father never talked about what he did even when I became an adult. My mother never talked about it. The other missionaries wouldn’t.”

The center has produced a number of other documentaries on topics ranging from racism to recidivism, but Parham said this is the best one because of the sheer volume of on- and off-camera interviews, historic footage and correspondence and other documents that back it up. It will be available to churches to show congregations, but the first screening is open to all on Sept. 8 at Christ Church Nashville.

Southern Baptist missionary Bob Parham, Robert's father, comforts a Nigerian girl during the Jos airlift in 1966. "The Disturbances" includes hundreds of film clips, photos and documents from 1960s Nigeria. (Photo: Photo courtesy of EthicsDaily.com)

Source: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2016/08/27/1966-nigerian-genocide-missionaries-witness-stories/89425846/

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