One day in 1898 onlookers at Waverly Station, Edinburgh, were astonished to see a woman of slight build, with a face like yellow parchment in hue and short straight hair, get off the train accompanied by four wide-eyed African girls.
Wherever Mary Slessor went on her triumphal tour among the churches, the people were enthralled as they heard her tell how she had endured hunger and thirst under the flaming sun of Africa, had been smitten down by tropical fevers, had controlled drunken cannibals brandishing loaded muskets, had calmed hundreds of war-like natives lusting for blood and had faced death a thousand times in her endeavor to bring redemption’s story to Africa’s perishing peoples.
Mary told of the slave markets, of human sacrifice and how at the death of a chief, 60 people were killed and eaten.
She told her story to churches of God’s call on her life in Nigeria: What could one frail woman do confronted by one appalling situation? Overwhelmed and depressed Mary knelt and prayed, “Lord the task is impossible for me but not for Thee. Lead the way and I will follow.” Rising she said, “Why should I fear? I am on a Royal Mission. I am in the service of the King of kings.”
In one village she received a secret message saying that in a district far away, a man of one village had wounded the chief of another village and that that warriors of both villages were holding a council of war. “I must go and stop it, too much blood will be shed.”
The chief of the village she was in said, “You are going to a warlike people and they will not listen to what a woman says”, the chief told her. “When you speak of a woman’s power, Mary replied, “you forget the power of the woman’s God, I shall go on”.
In the threatening situation she stood between the two war-tribes alone; she raised her voice and said, “I have a peace-maker for you to meet, stop this and come and listen to why I have been sent to you by my God”. Slowly the fierce painted wild-eyed men lowered their spears and muskets and came forward to listen to the frail white phenomena standing before them. Peace ensued.
As a result of her bold stand for God, she saw healing’s where witch-doctors failed, she saved orphans from the jungles. She saved twins as they believed that whenever twin were born it was a curse so the mother would discard the baby’s in the jungle for Leopards and predators to devour. Her name became widely known and greatly respected, she was known as the ‘white Ma’.
Mary Slessor continues to be honored in modern Nigeria with a road named after her, along with a monument. “The white Queen of Clalabar”.