Today in 1857, Arrival of Christianity in Igboland

Christianity in Igboland

Today marks the Arrival of Christianity. It is the 165th anniversary of the advent of Christianity in Igboland and the 112th anniversary in the community promoted by the CMS (Church Missionary Society), led by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and by Rev. J.C Taylor (The Apostle of Igboland) together with the led team by the Physician, Dr. William Balfour Baikie. 

Unfortunately, the first expedition in August 1841, in which the group entered the Niger River, was a painful failure as malaria killed fifty-four out of a hundred and sixty-two whites within weeks. Samuel Ajayi Crowther also led a team of native missionaries in the Niger Valley.  

The Arrival of Christianity in Igboland

Once again, in 1857, Reverend Ajayi Crowther and J.C Taylor, along with a number of catechists, joined Macgregor Laird on an expedition, sponsored by the British government. Reverend Crowther also had a specific assignment from the CMS to found the Mission in Niger. It was in the Christ Church camp in Onitsha that the Mission to Niger began in 1857 as an African initiative.  

Upon arrival of Christianity, the team was received and established in Onitsha by Obi Akazue, the 14th Obi of Onitsha on July 27, 1857. Hence, the Anglican Church became the first church in Igboland. 

The Anglican Church of Christ, Onitsha (Ebube Niger) was also the first church in Igboland. Some developments in Igboland, especially in education, can be attributed to Christian missions 

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However, Anglicans in Igboland celebrate the anniversary of the CMS every July 27, which they use to measure their past, present and predict what the Christian faith would be like in the future.  

Igbo Origin 

Igbo, also called Ibo, people living mainly in southeastern Nigeria who speak Igbo, a language of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Grouped into the following major cultural divisions: Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern or Cross River and Northeast. 

How Igbo felt About Christianity 

The Igbo feared that if they became Christians, their gods would bring them disaster. Soothsayers and sorcerers reported that the deities were angry at the new religion and warned that no one should join the missionaries.  

First Church in Igboland

The Anglican mission arrived in Igboland in the last half of the nineteenth century being the first Christian mission to enter Igboland, precisely in 1857, with Onitsha as the first place of missionary propagation. From Onitsha the mission extended to other parts of Igboland.  

Who Wrote Igbo Bible?  

Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s first Igbo language book (Isoama – Ibo: A Primer) written by a Yoruba man, Samuel Ajayi Crowther (1809-1891) in 1857. “The book had 17 pages, with the Igbo alphabets, words, phrases, sentence patterns, the Our Father, the Ten Commandments and translations of the first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew.

Also Read: Untold Tales of Izobo (Now Urhobo and Igue Festival Ubini (Benin) 

First Church In Nigeria 

The cathedral church of San Pietro 

Peters, Ake Abeokuta, is the first church in Nigeria. History teaches us that when Christianity first arrived in what is now known as Nigeria through the Portuguese missionary, no particular church was founded before they left. 

Which Year Did Catholic Church Came to Nigeria?  

Nigeria became a part of the vast Vicariate Apostolic of the Two Guineas, created in 1842, but transferred to Gabon when that vicariate was created in 1863. Priests from the Society of african missions (SMA) also arrived along with British rule in 1861. 

Nigeria Today 

Today, Nigerian leaders, both in public life and in politics, education, church, commerce and industry, owe their education, in whole or in part, to the manual labor of missionaries. What Ajayi Crowther started one hundred and sixty-five years ago now gave birth to the church and for its livelihood Christians should strive to revive the spirit of this great African missionary.  


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