Fordham Notes: Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (IX): "Last Thoughts from Nigeria"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Father Ryan Reports from West Africa (IX): "Last Thoughts from Nigeria"

Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society Patrick J. Ryan, S.J. is spending a month in Africa, a continent where he previously lived for 26 years. During his time there, he will be blogging about his experiences. Here is his latest post:

Yesterday, I flew from Lagos to Abuja, about 500 miles by air (which was one hour), but 800 miles by road (which would have been 12 hours). Classes resumed last week at Loyola Jesuit College, so I saw a few familiar faces among the students at this six-year school, which teaches the seventh through twelfth grades. Since I left the school's presidency in 2005, I now would remember only the final year students who were in first year in 2004-05. Several now tower over me, and I am 6 feet 2 inches tall.

Today, Jan. 15, is the 44th anniversary of the coup that ended Nigeria's first republic a little over five years after independence. The current, civilian-run fourth republic (since 1999) is in trouble. The second president of this republic, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia since Nov. 23 with pericarditis, on top of continuing problems with his kidneys. When he spoke on the BBC earlier this week, he sounded very tired.

The Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremonies today in Abuja were presided over by the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan seems now to be gaining support as acting president, but his origins are in the so-called South-South oil-rich geopolitical zone of Nigeria, the polar opposite of Yar Adua's origins. That causes some unhappiness among northerners in positions of power.

I fly out of Abuja late tonight on Delta. After a crew change in Senegal, we arrive at JFK early tomorrow morning. I will be leaving hot and dry Abuja for cold and damp New York, but I am coming home to Fordham.

-- Pat Ryan, S.J.

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