An Efik native and crane operator, Victor Bassey Ackwonu has written the Archbishop of the Methodist Archdiocese of Calabar, Most Reverend Emmanuel Udofia over comments alleged to have been made by the latter in March 2020.
According to the letter sighted by CrossRiverWatch, Ackwonu claimed that the clergyman made derogatory statements which he considered as ‘hate speech’ about Efiks sons while addressing women at the Wesley cathedral in Calabar.
The Efiks are an ethnic group in southern Nigera and Cameroon. They speak the Efik language which is a Benue-Congo language of the Cross River family.
And, in his letter dated April 16, 2020, Ackwonu wrote: “I wish to bring to your notice the above subject matter in which during the Mothering Sunday of 22nd March, 2020 in Wesley Cathedral while addressing the women, you the Archbishop in that process admonished them to be of good behaviour and worthy character and not to be like ‘Those Efik sons whom the soldiers during the war captured their mothers and impregnated, then ran away and as such do not know their father neither do they know where thy come from but rather go around causing trouble in the Wesley cathedral.’
“Your Grace Sir, I write to debunk this your statement of fallacy and to let you know that the Efiks are a respective and responsible tribe with a culture of proven dignity over time. Maybe you don’t know the history of the Efiks, so for more information, kindly visit the archives for authentic and reliable facts and stop tarnishing and dragging the Efiks into mud.
“This your statement, to me in person is a ’hate speech’ and come to think of it coming from the mouth of an Archbishop of a Cathedral like ours goes a long way to portray how unrespectful you are to the Efik people and your host community in totality. For you to stand in a full congregation and unearth our Ancestors to abuse and referred to them as bastards and we their descendants as vagabonds is a total slap to your call in the ministry.
“Your Grace Sir, I have been pondering from which school of thought you derive this your hypothesis of the history of the Efiks from, that would warrant such a malicious defamation. You schooled in Efik land, drink the waters of Efik land, eat and work in Efik land and yet you have no regards for the people and their culture and yet expect the Efik illustrious sons and daughters to open their doors to you after such a derogatory statement. Though some will still do, however, it has gone down in the annals of history that ever since the inception of Wesley Cathedral No Archbishop has ever disrespected the congregation of the Efiks and its host community as you have done.
“Your Grace Sir, let me put it to you that I expect you to tender your unreserved apology over this statement of yours and as a statement of fact withdraw this statement equally.
“Your Grace Sir, let me also kindly and humbly suggest that you make a good choice of your words and refrain from this uncultured ways of speech and references because it does not fit your office and at times it makes me wonder if truly you really had the call to serve.
“Your Grace Sir, in conclusion, I will not be surprise to receive your usual abusive replies to issues like this which had been raised before by other people in the Church which is on record but I will leave you with this two Efik adage that says: ‘Ukemeke nditie ke odung ekom nta ekom’ and at the same time ‘esi tetim ndem isong ndien udia oduk idem.’ Kindly do the needful and stop creating divisions and fractions in Wesley Cathedral.”
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