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Ukraine: Why Africa cannot stay aloof

Russia blame Ukraine for Crimea bridge explosion

Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky

Rachel Onyegbule was my second daughter’s classmate at the Salem Academy here in Lugbe, Abuja until 2020 when they graduated and parted ways. Two of them shared great dreams of becoming medical doctors.

Due to university admission stress here in Nigeria, Rachel’s parents, like some other Nigerian parents, sent her away at a great cost to study in Ukraine. She has been in constant touch with my daughter who is pursuing her own dream here in Nigeria.

On Sunday, Rachel, stranded with other African students at the border town of Shehyni, some 400 miles from Kyiv, spoke to the CNN through a phone conversation. She told the CNN:

“More than 10 buses came and we were watching everyone leave. We thought after they took all the Ukrainians, they would take us but they told us we had to walk, that there were no more buses and told us to walk.

My body was numb from the cold and we haven’t slept in about four days now. Ukrainians have been prioritised over Africans – men and women at every point. There is no need to ask why. We know why, I just want to get home.”

It was by Monday, around 4.30am, that Rachel eventually had her exit documents signed.

This is the extent of our involvement, yet you read some Nigerians commenting to suggest we take a “Siddon dey look” position over the current Russian-Ukrainian war. Leave them, na oyibo war. The same racist aloofness still.

Rachel’s parents are among other Nigerian parents whose children are there in the cold. Rachel yeans for home. What else will a young woman, just around 17 say. Incidentally, home is here in far away Abuja. Her parents live in an estate close to ours here.

I dedicate my every Friday stream of messages on the family – THINKING FAMILY ON FRIDAY today to prayers that God will touch the hearts of all leaders on the two sides of this war so that they end it now.

A little compromise on the right, a little on the left and a common point of agreement can be reached.

Please no “siddon dey look”. If no other thing, pray and in Jesus name, let all hostilities cease now. Amen.

Harold Ikewueze is a missionary based in Abuja

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