, 12 June, 2020 / 11:30 PM
The Nigerian nun who lost her life while seeking to save school girls during the March 15 inferno at the institution she was heading, Sr. Henrietta Alokha, has been recognized by the leaders of the Airforce of the West African nation who have named a newly-built assembly hall after her.
Sr. Henrietta, a member of the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart (SSH) who was the Principal of Bethlehem Girls College in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, has been recognized by the Nigerian Airforce (NAF) for her bravery and ultimate sacrifice of her life to save others after a gas explosion caused fire that razed down at least 50 houses, injuring and killing residents of Abule Ado town in its wake.
The Airforce has also built a cenotaph for the late nun at the entrance of the 500-capacity hall located at the 041 NAF Communications Depot, Shasha, Lagos Archdiocese.
Unveiling the name and cenotaph on Thursday, June 11, Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Logistics Command, Lawal Alao noted that a hall in a school where character was molded “deserved to be named after a worthy Nigerian who has distinguished his/herself in the service to humanity.”
“I am hopeful that naming the assembly hall after Rev. Sr. Henrietta Alokha will not only be symbolic but will continually keep her memory fresh in our hearts,” Mr. Alao who represented Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Sadique Abubakar said.
Mr. Alao expressed the conviction that the stories of Sr. Henrietta’s heroic act on the fateful day will continue to remind the younger ones the values of selfless service to humanity.
Sr. Henrietta’s sacrifice, he noted, should also serve as motivation for Airmen and AirWomen of the NAF who are presently deployed to various theatres of operation in the West African country.
“The late Principal by her action exemplified the good shepherd who put the protection and safety of her cubs well above hers, an act that deserved a place in history,” The Nation has quoted the leadership of NAF as saying.
Reports indicated that Sr. Henrietta rescued all the students that were trapped in one of the buildings at the school before the roof of the building caved in on her.
Appreciating NAF for the recognition, the Superior General of SSH, Sr. Monica Rowland expressed hope that the death of Sr. Henrietta “would be a lesson for leaders to be ready to make sacrifices for the led.”
She also revealed that in honor of the late nun, the Catholic Church in the country had set up Sr. Henrietta Alokha Endowment Fund “to be made available for indigent children between the ages of six and 17, who are very intelligent but cannot fund their education due to financial constraints.”
“This is just the first step the church is taking,” she noted adding, “We are planning to do more things to immortalize Sr. Henrietta Alokha.”
The Director of Education in Lagos Archdiocese, Jerome Oduntan described Sr. Henrietta as a “quiet but forthright woman who loved those who were under her care and paid the most precious price for them.”
He added in reference to the late nun, “One can imagine the number of mothers that would have been weeping for their children but instead of them weeping, she volunteered her life.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa