The celebration has begun on Friday 22nd and will end on 30th September. But one of the intriguing questions is what would have been the nature of Nigerian education if the Christian mission had not come to Nigeria in 1842 and thereafter. According to Babalola, the history of education system of the colonial period essentially is the history of the inter play of three forces.
The first was that of Christian missions which established a number of pioneering schools in the 19th century in Nigeria.
The greatest contribution of the missionaries in Nigeria was in the field of education.
The first known school in Nigeria was established by Mr. and Mrs. Dc Graft of the Methodist Mission in Badagry and was named “The Nursery of the infant”.
The first church in Nigeria was established by the Methodist church mission in 1842 in Badagry, Lagos State, Nigeria. The period was the time when white missionaries were preoccupied with missionary movement to West Africa, Indeed, 1842 became the year the gospel of our Lord Jesus landed at the shore of Nigeria through Badagry, a suburb of Lagos city.
Though the early missionaries experienced lots of hardship but they also recorded successes in establishment of schools, parishes, building houses, training indigenous priests, getting converts, inauguration of many church societies and establishment of out stations for colonial administration. The greatest direct profit of the word of evangelization was the support of the mission to schools. The period 1842-82 was marked by intensive missionary activity and expansion in southern Nigeria. During this time the church missionary society, the (Wesleyan) Methodist Missionary Society, Anglican, the Roman Catholic Mission, the United Presbyterian church of Scotland, the Qua Ibo Mission, the primitive Methodist Missionary Society and the Basel Mission firmly established themselves in this area.
Religious organizations also did the best by providing and establishing Health care centres and social amenities. Verkeyl, in 1987, stated that in the 19th century, medical doctors accompanied missionary personnel who were constantly threatened with fatal infections and sickness. The medicate personal were not only concerned for the well-being of missionaries but also attended to the needs of those living in vicinity of the mission compound.
The celebration of 170 years Christianity in Nigeria has begun. The occasion which started on Friday 22 will come to a climax on Sunday 30th September with a thanksgiving service in Lagos. Methodist church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion have come together to celebrate the emergence of Christianity in Nigeria. Lagos and Abuja are the two cities where major events of the festivity will take place. In the same vein all Christians are urged to participate in the celebration. Some Christians are in Badagry for a brief ceremony before dispersing to Lagos main land and Abuja for the programme proper.
It is a period of sober reflection on the work of God in Nigeria, the journey so far and the way forward. The occasion will feature so many activities. Therefore all believers of Christ Jesus in Nigeria are enjoined to follow the event as it is rare to come by such celebration in one’s life history 170 years Christianity in Nigeria is some thing worth celebrating by all Christians. Christians should see the celebration as an act of God to unite them in Nigeria. Of a truth many Christians did not know when Christianity came to Nigeria.
The Israelites do not play with their history. It is a command for them to teach their children their history. Badagry in Lagos is the first place the gospel was first preached by White missionaries of the Methodist Church. There are more than three hundred thousand churches, both big and small in Nigeria. Today, the command by Jesus Christ that says “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Matthew 28:19 is yielding result.
It is important to recognize the role of some missionaries who planted Christianity in West Africa. They are Jacob Elisha, John Capitein a slave from the Ivory Coast (Cote Devoire) who was rescued by a rich Dutch trader who took him to Holland in about 1728. Thomas Thompson was an English man of an Anglican Church, Philip Quaque was the person Thomas Thompson sent to England in 1754 to be educated on London.
In Nigeria today, there are countless number of missionaries who are involved in the mission work. Nigeria is blessed with many prominent men and women of God. And the work of God is alive in the nation despite some level of persecution. The mustard seed sown in 1842 at Badagry today has spread across the shores of Nigeria. Faith of our fathers, living still, inspite of dungeons, fire, and sword, oh how our hearts beat high with joy, whenever we hear that glorious word. Faith of our fathers! Holy faith! We will be true to thee till death. FRANK ENEAWAJI is a public affairs analyst who resides a Port Harcourt. ###
Frak Eneawaji Ogwuonuonu