“I am sure that when the situation will normalize we shall all return” says to MISNA Bishop Goltok Malachy of Bauchi, a diocese in the north-eastern Nigeria, where many migrant Christian families from the south have been missing since last Christmas.
Behind their departure for their lands of origin, was the desire to spend the holidays together with their relatives in the villages of the Igbo community, who had left to build a future in business. The obstacles on the way back were different.
“The attack against the church of Madalla at Christmas has increased the fear of sectarian violence in the background – says Monsignor Goltok – but the difficulties due to the general strike in protest for the increased fuel prices also weighed heavily”.
First there was the massacre claimed by Boko Haram, the group that threatened to expel Christians and southern migrants from the north. Then two weeks of street protests and paralysis of economic activities followed after the abolition of subsidies that had kept fuel prices low for years, allowing millions of people to travel despite the lack of jobs and poverty.
In the Diocese of Bauchi, there are about 36,000 Christians, a small minority often working in small businesses. Many of them were in town Sunday night, when the explosion of a bomb threatened to bring down the Church of Our Lady of Loreto.
The blast caused no casualties or injuries or, and according to the bishop, this was a sign of God for hope in a peaceful future.
“The Christians of Bauchi – said Monsignor Goltok – have their homes here as well as their shops and their lives and they have always been an integral part of the social fabric and will continue to be, just like the Muslims who live in the south.”