Many pro-life groups have written articles about how population policy is being forced upon Third World nations through the World Bank, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, UNICEF, and other government and non-governmental agencies. Pro-life people should know that Third World nations are being coerced into accepting the culture of death based on their acceptance of loans and assistance from the wealthier nations. Joseph Korka Waadah, a refugee in Canada, has personally experienced the pressure tactics that exist to force acceptance of a population policy. Joseph has a story that most Canadians can only imagine.

Joseph was born in Nigeria and comes from the Ogoni tribe, which is known for its experiences with the Shell corporation. In 1958, Shell started developing oil wells in the region where the Ogoni people live. The Ogoni, who are mainly farmers and fishermen, expected that money being generated by the oil wells would improve their quality of life. Instead, Shell rarely employed any of the Ogoni people and the oil production polluted the air, land and water. Even though Shell and the government have made billions of dollars since 1958, the Ogoni people still have no electricity, roads, or water pipes. Due to the oil wells, they now have polluted water, fish, and infertile land. The Ogoni are victims of environmental injustice.

Joseph was one of the fortunate Ogoni people. He got a public relations position with a sister company of Shell. His area of concern was dealing with compensation for economic damage to the local community caused by the actions of the company. In 1990, the Ogoni people started agitating for a fair share of the resources. In 1995, the Nigerian government and Shell set up a kangaroo court and executed eight Ogoni leaders including Ken Saro-Wiwa. Since Joseph had access to Shell policies and was also part of the Ogoni tribe, he was accused of releasing information to the people. Joseph evaded arrest by hiding for two months and then escaping to Ghana. He is one of the many Ogoni refugees whose life and safety were threatened in Nigeria.

In Ghana, Joseph became employed by the Catholic bishops’ conference as a reporter for the Catholic Standard, a national weekly newspaper. In 1996, the bishops of West Africa hosted a pro-life conference in Ghana entitled Marriage, Family, and Bioethics, which was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family and chaired by Cardinal Trujillo. Joseph was assigned to report on the conference for the Catholic Standard.

After attending this conference, Joseph’s life changed. He set up the first pro-life group in Ghana, called the Life Protection League, working closely with the American Life League and Priests for Life.

He also wrote in the Catholic Standard and the secular newspapers, and spoke in schools, churches, and to the media. He campaigned with the intention of sensitizing the people to the culture of death and promoting the culture of life.

In early 1997, the Life Protection League organized its first one-day seminar. It was attended by 520 people. During the seminar, they held a march which had a huge effect on the people. This was the first pro-life group holding its first march. The seminar ended with the celebration of Mass.

In later 1997, he organized a rally that was entitled Celebrate Life. Two hundred and eight-seven people attended the rally, which featured a full day of speeches, singing and celebration. This was a very successful event and resulted in the secretary of the Catholic bishops’ conference inviting Joseph to speak in the parishes. His topic was “The unborn and the elderly are your brothers and sisters.”

Joseph was especially successful in working with youth. By speaking in the schools, churches and youth groups, he was able to get youth involved with pro-life. When speaking to the youth, he spoke about “The Challenges of Youth in a Culture of Death.”

Joseph was becoming well known throughout Ghana by the government and the pro-abortion lobby. The groups who supported abortion started visiting and calling Joseph. They made threats on his life, and vowed to get him deported. His boss at the Catholic Standard was also pressured.

The government statistician in Ghana wrote a letter in the secular newspapers explaining the plan for population control in Ghana. Joseph reacted to this article by contacting the American Life League, Human Life International, and Priests for Life to obtain all the facts, and then published his response in the Catholic Standard. After this, his well-being was constantly in danger because the government considered him a threat. (The government of Ghana is dependent on money from wealthier nations, and since Joseph was explaining how this money was connected to population policy, he posed a threat to the finances of the nation.)

The other Ogoni refugees were resettled in the United States, except for Joseph. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees refused to resettle him. One of the more powerful bishops in Ghana, who had been a strong supporter of the Life Protection League, defended Joseph.

The situation continued to get worse. In July 1998, this bishop decided to send Joseph as a delegate to the UNDA/OCIC conference (an international conference in Montreal for Catholic media workers) to get him out of Ghana. Joseph applied for a visa to go to Montreal but was refused.

The bishop then made an appeal on his behalf, resulting in Joseph receiving a visa to attend the conference. The embassy gave Joseph the visa based on assurances from the bishop that he would return. Joseph arrived in Montreal on August 2. Since then, Joseph has made a claim for refugee status as an Ogoni refugee.

Joseph is indeed a pro-life refugee. He would have been resettled in the United States with the rest of the Ogoni refugees if he hadn’t been a pro-life activist. Canadian pro-lifers have much to learn from Joseph. When we consider what some of our pro-life brothers and sisters are experiencing in Africa, we must conclude that we are still fairly free to evangelize with our message in Canada. We allow things to get in our way instead of pushing forward with the truth.

Another message to pro-lifers in Canada is that the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the World Bank and UNICEF are working hard to instill the culture of death in Ghana and other Third World nations. We might be able to stop these organizations because they are funded with our money. Joseph’s is a real-life story, compared to what we had been told was the truth.

Currently, Joseph is writing his story, with reference to original newspaper articles and pictures from Ghana. Joseph has recently given a series of lectures to pro-life groups and human-rights organizations in London. Joseph is willing to share his pro-life story with groups as he continues to work to establish the culture of life.

To receive more information about Joseph Korka Waadah, contact Alex Schadenberg of the Family, Life and Youth Ministry Office of the Diocese of London at (519) 439-7552.