The history we know, we learn from the lips of people, mostly blistered with sentiment. Most of the rest is mostly one-liners from current affairs pamphlets sold at bus stops.

For example, we know Nnamdi Azikiwe is Nigeria's first President.

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What we don't know is that he was born in Niger State. This extra information probably gives you some insight into the type of Nigeria he grew up in.

This brings me to Mary Slessor. All we know of her from every current affairs book, is that she stopped the killing of twins in Calabar. That's about to change.

Long time ago…

In a kingdom not too far away, there lived a people who believed twins brought bad luck. So when twins were born, they were left to die. But then they didn't even bury their bodies because they believed it would spoil the earth. They just kept them in pots.

Then Mary Slessor came along. And to prove to them, she pulled off an experiment. Twins that were rejected, she took them to a place that's now called Twin Island.

When people saw that nothing happened, their minds slowly began to change.

Then something drastic happened.

Right in the household of the king, a princess put to bed. She bore twins. Boys.

So instead of having the twins killed like the others, he let Mary Slessor have them and take them to Twin Island.

This was the beginning of the end of the tradition.

Those boys, according to the stories at Twin Island today, were named Duke and Henshaw.

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And from their offspring, the Dukes and the Henshaws live in Cross River and Akwa Ibom till this day.

The Slessor Family.

Many of the other kids Mary Slessor saved were nameless. So she named them herself. And for their surname, they bore Slessor. The Slessor Family can be found in Calabar till this day.

It's time to say goodbye.

Abakaliki was calling. Before leaving, Maurice took on a drive around Calabar. One last time. “Please can you stop here,” I asked.

Maurice did. He knew I needed photos. Photos of Mary Slessor. Not her, but her statue, the one they built in memory of her at a roundabout.

She stood tall. I wondered how tall she was when she was alive. In her hands were two babies. Twins. One in each arm. The sculptor put a smile on her face. As if the weight of the babies had no effect on her arms. I wondered is she carried them so easliy when she was alive. Did she put them in a basket instead? But then again, standing against norms has never been easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

Maybe the Sculptor put a smile on her face because she carried them like a mother would carry her children. Despite the burden of parenting. Mary bore no children, but she mothered many.

There were flowers around the statue. I wondered if someone grew flowers there because he/she was paid to do so, or because they knew Mary would have loved when she was alive.

I wondered at the type of passion that drove her to do the things she did. To love the way she loved. To save the way she saved.

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I personally don't know any twins from Calabar, but I know there'll probably be hundreds or thousands.

And in the breath of everyone of them, there's a silent voice of gratitude saying, “Thank you Mary. Thank you Mary Slessor.”

We hit the road again and headed to the bus parks. As night fell, we knew the next sunlight we see will be over the  marshed lands of Ebonyi.

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*All photos were shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.