The Daily Mail recounts the experiences of the newly selected Archbishop of Canterbury as he negotiated with various groups in Nigeria:
Soldiers with machine guns circled in helicopters as rebels blindfolded Justin Welby, the future Archbishop of Canterbury, bundled him into a speedboat and took the mild-mannered Old Etonian into the heart of Nigeria…
Although in extreme danger, the bespectacled father of five remained ‘completely relaxed’, according to a colleague who was with him on the peace mission for a church body.
On another occasion, fresh from negotiating with Al Qaeda operatives, the Right Rev Welby was arrested by the Nigerian army.
Dr Welby has had to shake hands with warlords, negotiate with kidnappers and endure multiple arrests in some of the most dangerous warzones in the world, where the slightest mistake could have seen him lose his life.
For two years Dr Welby and Dr Davis were regularly blindfolded by militants and taken in speedboats into the blood-soaked creeks of the Niger Delta.
They were seeking a reconciliation between oil giant Shell and the Ogoni people in south-east Nigeria. The Ogoni had been locked in a bitter battle – which is claimed to have ultimately cost the lives of up to 100,000 people – with Shell, which was accused of polluting the land and encouraging human rights abuses.
Dr Davis recalled: ‘Before taking us into the creeks, the militants blindfolded Justin and I, just as they did to almost all Westerners for fear of their positions being given away.
‘But Justin was completely relaxed about it, despite the fact we were heading into fierce fighting.
‘All that mattered to him was that he was doing God’s work.
‘I remember also paddling a canoe down the river with military helicopters threatening us with their machine guns from above. Again it didn’t faze him. The whole point of Justin’s work has been to enter conflicts where no one else would dare set foot.
Read more at The Daily Mail.