A fracas over a Church bell, which nearly brought two friendly communities to the brink of war occurred one hundred years ago between the people of Murray Town and Wilberforce leaving the people of the two villages apart up to this day.
The seemingly unsolved mystery or myth, as to which community is the rightful owner of the bell was investigated by Awoko and without taking sides in the controversy we spoke to two senior citizens in both Murray Town and Wilberforce to understand what really happened some 100 years ago between Murraytown and Wilberforce, who owned the controversial bell and how the bell came to lose its sound.
Sitting in his Macauley street home at Murray town, 80 year old Victor Ayodele Clinestone Macauley, recounted what he knew about the controversy as was told to him by his late father.
”There was a time when the Anglican Church of Murray Town (Ebenezer Methodist Church) ordered for a church bell and Wilberforce (St Paul’s Wilberforce) also made a similar order for their church during the same period.”
”It turned out that when the bell arrived from abroad at the Queen Elizabeth Quay, there was a Wilberforce man who had a senior position in the Customs department who believing without checking that it was the Wilberforce consignment (bell) which had arrived, used his power and quickly cleared the bell and sent it to Wilberforce.” “So Murray town got to know about this and demanded their bell.”In the heat of the controversy Mr Macauley recalled, there was a man whose name he did not disclose who had the gift of the supernatural sciences.So after a series of intermittent disputes the elders from Murraytown decided to resolve this issue once and for all.
So this man with superior knowledge of the supernatural went to the Wilberforce Church where the bell had already been hung and was in use. According to Mr Macauley this scientology man spoke in a very low tone to the bell saying, “bell if you belong to Murray Town, forever don’t ring here … but if you belong to Wilberforce stay with them.” The man then turned his back and returned to Murraytown. The next day, when the Wilberforce people went to ring the bell it did not produce any sound instead it split into two.”But that was the Murraytown account which was corroborated by another senior citizen who refused to be named or quoted.
For the Wilberforce side of this thrilling story, we went to 85-year-old Matthew Bisodu Faulkner who gave us an interesting history lesson.
He recalled that Wilberforce was founded in 1812 for liberated Africans. The first settlement he said was at Hill Station which had traces of plants, such as breadfruit trees and vegetables and “effu-odu” etc which are still there to confirm this account. The white settlers he recalled were victims of malaria, which saw many dying to the extent that Sierra Leone was nicknamed ‘the Whiteman’s grave.’ The settlers discovered that life was better for them up the hills; than down the valley so they decided to relocate to the present site of Wilberforce. They (The settlers) had three churches, the West African Methodist Church, which was the first one, the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Anglican Church. This Anglican Church was however connected to the Anglican Church at Murray Town. These two churches he recalled were given a bell to use in common, and the Wilberforce parishioners brought the bell up to their parish. The Murray town people were not satisfied with this arrangement and so they organized a group of strong men to storm Wilberforce to seize the bell. The Wilberforce parishioners having got a tip of the plot positioned a group of able-bodied men in key security positions to repel the mission. Wilberforce had the advantageous position of being located on a hill so the men collected a huge quantity of stones which they hurled as missiles on the heads, faces and breasts of their attackers, forcing them to retreat. Still not satisfied, they waited for the time when all their opponents would be in their farms, as they were mostly farmers in those days, and sent their best ‘Alpha man’ (scientology specialist) to pronounce a curse on the bell. Since that day, the bell lost its proper sound and became useless. The Murray Town Parishioners were so mad at their Wilberforce counterpart who did nothing but to demonstrate their God given protection, that they ended up as enemies and disconnected themselves from the Anglican Church and joined the Wesleyan Methodist Church. “We thank God that all these fracas are now over to the extent that we have become one family marrying and remarrying one another and undertaking things for the common good of both communities and the country as a whole” Mr Faulkner ended.