Heavenly Manna from the bowels of the earth
Sister Sabina Anokwu recalls the days of the Biafran war, the terrible starvation, and the gift of precious food that was sent by God.
The Biafra /Nigeria war lasted from 1967 to 1970. During the terrible time at the peak of the war people of Biafra were literally dying of starvation. For security reasons people could not go to their farms and the Nigerian Government blocked all routes, land air or sea, leaving the country inhumanly isolated. Some Irish organisations and others risked their lives to fly in food and medicines at night to Uli Airport, but they could not provide for the whole population.
I am a native of Owerre town, and one of the special, very nutritious and expensive delicacies we used to enjoy was snail, escargot. To get these one had to go out to the thickets at night with some light to search for them, and after a whole night of toil one might return with only a handful. But now, with the Nigerian jet bombers and fighter planes flying over looking for Biafran targets, one dared not carry a light or go to the thickets.
One night as we sat outside admiring the beautiful blue starry sky, we heard a sudden commotion. What could it be? Snails! All over the place, even getting into the rooms! Such had never happened before nor has it happened again. People collected as many buckets full as they could, and we had a supply of rich protein and iron food, and many of the people and children with terrible kwashiorkor revived.
In later years, reading the Book of Exodus about how God provided manna for his people in the desert, it dawned on me. I came to believe firmly that what happened that beautiful night during the war was the mystery of a loving God sending manna to His suffering children. Oh yes, what happened in Owerre was heavenly manna. Our loving God came to rescue and alleviate the suffering of His beloved people.
Sister Sabina later became a Holy Rosary Sister and was on mission in Cameroon. While she was a member of the General Council of the Congregation and living in Ireland, she was the co-founder of the group, Sisters of Faith for Peace, which brings together women of different faiths forming bonds of friendship and mutual respect. This group received an award from the Irish President Michael D Higgins for its contribution to Irish society.