Photo by John Teichroew

Recovery amid ruins

Nigeria | Waves of violence in northern Nigeria leave Christian communities devastated

Issue: "2011 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 17, 2011

Nearly 100 pastors gathered inside an Evangelical Churches of West Africa (ECWA) church in 2008 in Malumfashi, a town in northern Nigeria's Katsina State. Three years later the same church is a ruin-torched by Muslim mobs in post-election rioting last spring. To fully appreciate the destruction, note the iron railing with crosses in the background of the "before" photo and in the foreground of the "after" photo in the E-zine or pdf version of this issue. The church, first built in 1936, held 500 for weekly worship services before it was destroyed.

"Though waves of violence against the [Christian] believers in northern Nigeria have repeatedly ravaged the region-Katsina state included-the ECWA churches in Malumfashi had previously been spared any effects from this scourge. This time, however, that was not to be," reported John Teichroew. The Minnesota resident supports area pastors and recently traveled to Katsina, where he documented the damage to churches and homes of Christian clergy following the April election of Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian and leader of the ruling People's Democratic Party.

Jeremiah Kuzanah, pastor of one of the ECWA churches at Malumfashi, was in his office at the time of the attacks. His injuries included a serious blow to the back of his head with a machete.

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The Muslim mob wounded five ECWA church members in the violence, but each has since recovered. Destruction to the Christian community remains. "I'm not sure a tsunami would leave much greater devastation in its wake," said Teichroew.

Today Malumfashi Christians are rebuilding, but tensions run high. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and one of the most densely populated in the world, is divided nearly evenly between Christians and Muslims. The northern states, including Katsina, practice Sharia law, and where the two groups overlap, violence flares. Attacks in 2008 killed 800 and in 2009 approximately 750, mostly Christians. In 2010, 450 were killed. More recently a clash in northern Nigeria on Nov. 3 left over 100 dead and seven churches damaged.


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