Friends in remote places
Baro CemeteryREAD STORY
Did you know?
Remote, isolated headstones
19c - 41c
When it comes to Remembrance Day, and you bow your head in silence, you could be forgiven for not knowing about the village chief who helps make our work possible.
But in Nigeria, it’s just another part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s work.
Across the vast West African nation are a series of isolated headstones, mostly men who died of illness while stationed here in the First World War.
Throughout the world we rely on making strong relationships with those whose land our war graves lie in.
In England, that often means vicars. In Canada, that can be farmers out in the prairie.
In West Africa, that means building a relationship with village chiefs, like here in Baro Village with Alhaji Mohammed.
Lolu Enabolu, CWGC’s Nigerian supervisor, helps us to build and maintain these vital connections on the ground. On his last visit to Baro with regional manager Simon Fletcher, the pair sat down for the customary tea and conversation with Alhaji, before being led to the war graves. Small formalities like this go a long way to gaining local trust.
In these remote locations, you can never underestimate the importance of local trust.
Another lone burial, that of Captain Haworth Massy, in Udi village, bears a powerful reminder of how World War history unites the world.
Captain Massy, whose grave is seen below with Lolu on his latest inspection, may appear to be buried in isolation in this quiet spot, a day’s drive south of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
But you can draw a line, 3,000 miles long, from this place to one of CWGC’s most visited locations – the Menin Gate, upon which is engraved his brother’s name.
The two signed up for the same war. Though they died in very different ways, and at opposite ends of the world, the memory of their family’s loss is preserved forever by our global task.
A job that we can only do by building strong local connections everywhere we go, whether it’s the vicar, the farmer, or the village chief – something worth trying to remember next 11 November.