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From “A Peak Into My Nigerian Diary”

by Mrs. Celeste Reim (reviewed in our May 1997 issue) —

Dec. 22, 1946

An urgent message came this afternoon from Archibong of Ibiono. He wrote, “I have fallen in my fight for the Lutheran Church. . . .” He wanted Nubby to come and take his will. The note sounded almost hysterical, so Nubby and I left immediately. After the 15 mile drive to his home, we found everything locked up. We were told, “Archibong has gone to the home of a relative in the next village.”

One man could speak ‘small, small’ English. He said it’s not far to the next village, but there is no bridge across the creek. We should take the car as far as the creek and from there we would have only a short distance to walk. When we saw the path he pointed out, Nubby said, “We can’t take the motor in there!” “Yes, yes,” he insisted, “the path is good.” So we crawled along, but at every turn, were sure we could go no farther. The road was rough and rutted beyond description, and at one place so narrow that the car could just slip between the trees with the fender scraping on both sides.

When we wanted to get out and walk the remainder of the way the people kept urging, “no, no, keep going, the road is better from here.” Instead of getting better, it got worse. But we had no choice, there was no place wide enough between the trees for the car to turn around. Finally we came to a big bump in the path. It looked as though there was a fallen tree under the ground. Nubby said, “This is enough, we’ll break the motor if we go over that.” But just a short distance on the other side was a clearing large enough to turn the car around. There didn’t seem to be a choice. So, — the car got stuck in the middle — but there were enough men around to lift the back wheels over.

We left the car in this clearing and started walking the ‘small half mile’ to the next village. Down the hill to the creek, crossing it on a log, and up the hill again. As we walked and walked, our escorts kept encouraging us, “only a small way — we are almost there.”

After another ten minutes of walking, we asked again, “How far now?” — “Only small, small.” So we walked and walked some more. A boy with a bicycle offered to give me a ride on his carrier, but the path was so sandy and rough now that he just couldn’t make it. I decided that either our dying friend was pretty strong, or he was dead by now.

When we arrived at the compound and were led through a gate, we found ourselves in he inner court of a quadrangle. At each door around the square a woman sat with her children. The wives and children of the polygamous compound owner each have one room. At the door to which we were led sat a large group of solemn faced men. It reminded me of going into a funeral parlor. When that door was unlocked we walked into a pitch dark room. Then the man leading us rapped at the door leading into another room. This was the sick room. Two small windows were open, letting in just enough light so we could see dimly, but did not let in much air.

Archibong was sitting on a bed, looking quite well and strong, but sure he was going to die. When Nubby asked him what was wrong he said he had no pulse, and his heart had stopped beating. Nubby felt of his pulse and said it was fine. Little by little we heard his story. He had been in the hospital at Ikot Ekpene with an attack of fever and jaundice. The nurses told him his pulse was bad. It seems he became quite discouraged and was sure there was no hope for him, so he went home to die.

The thing which seemed to be troubling him the most was his will. (We were surprised to see how much he is worth.) He had his will and important papers and documents all ready in a big envelope for Nubby to take. He wanted the Lutheran Church to be the Administrator. He even had the keys to his house in the envelope. He asked Nubby to go to his house as soon as he dies and sell the furniture.

It must be done immediately after he dies before the thieves break in. He spoke of his death as calmly as if it were an every day occurrence. When Nubby tried to encourage him and said there seemed to be good hope that he would get well again, he said, “But if I have seen all the signs of death, and the nurse told me I was hopeless?” He admitted the doctor had not said anything to that effect.

Although he did not say it, I have a feeling he is afraid someone has used ‘juju’ against him. He has been working hard to establish a Lutheran Church in his village, but has run into a lot of opposition. If these people think they have any enemies they always fear juju. He is a good Christian fellow and has faith in Jesus as his Savior, but sometimes in a time of weakness the old heathen beliefs come out again.

After Nubby talked to him about the love and power of God and prayed with him, he said he would pray that if it is God’s will, He would make him well again.

We left the house at quarter to seven, just as it was getting dark. It’s lovely in the bush at that time. After a few boys brought us some coconuts and we drank the milk, we were refreshed for the trip home. We were surprised to see Archibong like this. He had always been so full of ambition. He has a pretty good education and job. His biggest ambition is to study to be a lawyer or minister, and would like very much to study in America.

(Written later: He did recover. Thank the Lord!!!)