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Mary Slessor


1848 - 1915

An ordinary mill worker who became a notable missionary in West Africa. Born in Gilcomston (Aberdeen), the daughter of a shoemaker. The family moved to Dundee in 1858 where both parents were employed in the mills and Mary began in Baxter Brothers' Mill the same year. She was accepted as a missionary by the United Presbyterian Church, and after training in Edinburgh set sail for Ethiopia in 1876. She returned to Dundee to recover from malaria in 1879. After other missions, she arrived in Nigeria in 1888. With enormous strength of will she unflinchingly took on the authorities to bring genuine benefits to the natives, setting up many schools, hospitals and churches throughout the region. Called 'Great Mother' by the Nigerians, she provided healthcare and education and stamped out barbaric tribal practices such as human sacrifice, ritualistic rape and the murder of twins. She died in Nigeria.


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