Born in 1809,
Priest, Bishop Ajayi Samuel Crowther
About 1809 born to Ajayi in oshogun, in the iseyin area of oyo state, Nigeria. In 1822 Crowther, as a young boy, had been rescued from a Portuguese slave by an English man-of-war intercepted the Ship by the British Navy and the transportation ship was taken to Sierra leone. Together with the other slaves on board including his brother and other family members, along with his entire village, by Muslim Fulani slave raiders he was taken to Freetown where in 1821 and sold to Portuguese slave traders. However, before his slave-ship left port, it was boarded by a British Royal Navy ship under the command of Captain Henry Leeke, and Crowther was taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he was released. Ajayi’s mother was a descendant of King Abiodun, to take up the story in his own words, “I was under the care of the C.M.S. and in about six months after my arrival at Sierra Leone i was able to read the New Testament with some degree of freedom; and was made a Monitor, for which I was rewarded by 7 1/2 d per month.” He was an outstanding pupil and when he enrolled as one of the first students at the African Institution established in 1827 Mr. Haensal, the Principal, wrote, “He is a lad of uncommon ability, steady conduct, a thirst for knowledge and indefatigable industry.” After the 1841 expedition, Schon who was greatly impressed by his conduct in that dangerous undertaking, recommended that Crowther should go to England for ordination. The Rev. F. Bultiman who knew him intimately at this time wrote: “I am convinced that he would do honour to our society, if presented by them as a candidate for Holy Orders to the Bishop of London… .though I am sure his modesty will not allow him to ask for it.” As his later career proved, Samuel Crowther more than justified the confidence placed in him by contemporaries. He was ordained in 1843. was a linguist and the first African Anglican bishop in Nigeria. Crowther was a Yoruba man who also identified with Sierra Leone’s ascendant Creole ethnic group.
The baptised Ajayi crowther join the receptive, then sent to school on 11 December, 1825 in 1826 he was sent to England, to attend the parish school, Liverpool, London. He was appointed a schoolmaster in 1827 Returning to Sierra leone with a salary of $1 per month by the Governor of the directory. Crowther late taught at the college, after his enrollment as one of the students of the C.M.S. owned Fourah Bay college, Freetown. . The Obi was presented by the missionaries at Aboh, with two Bible one English the other in Arabic. the Obi could not read; but missionaries were accompanied by a freed Igbo Slave from Sierra leone, Simon Jonas, their interpreter. The Sermon was read out by Simon on the mountain (Mathew, chapter 5)to the Obi. The Obi was impressed, and insisted that Simon should be left at Aboh to preach the gospel. the missionaries could only presented an Arabic Bible to the Atta of Igala at Idah another (Arabic) Bible was also sent at Rabba the Etsu of Nupe. Crowther under go training for the priesthood in England C.M.S. college at Islington. In 1843, he become deacon desman year after a priest. At Abeokuta with Townsend, he opened a mission. The Niger Expedition, in 1854 his object being to explore the prospects of establishing on the Niger. In 1856, he followed the Liverpool merchant, Macgregor laird, to the Niger, founding mission at Onitsha. When the missionaries arrived, the people of Onitsha were at war with their neighbors (Ogidi people) and as a consequence of this war “a great many good houses were deserted at the east end of the town, where a constant look-out was kept for the approach of the enemies…” According to Crowther’s report, twenty Onitsha men were killed as against three of the enemy. In this state of affairs, Crowther stated, Onitsha people welcomed European traders and missionaries in order to strengthen their own position.
Crowther was selected to accompany the missionary James Frederick Schön on the Niger expedition of 1841. Together with Schön, he was expected to learn Hausa for use on the expedition. The goal of the expedition was to spread commerce, teach agricultural techniques, spread Christianity, and help end the slave trade. Following the expedition, Crowther was recalled to England, where he was trained as a minister and ordained by the bishop of London. This after Schön had written to the Church Missionary Society noting Crowther’s usefulness and ability on the expedition, recommending them to prepare him for ordination. He returned to Africa in 1843 and with Henry Townsend, opened a mission in Abeokuta, in today’s Ogun State, Nigeria. Crowther hard many difficulties pre his dead. Crowther hard different challenges such as human trafficking, primitive society poor communication and lack of transportation also with his diffrent European colleaques. he was opposed during his nomination by Townsent and other Europeans missionary of the C.M.S. that Lagos and Yoruba were not under his operation. inspite of the hostile make him to resign his bishopric and the C.M.S. appionted an European successor that need to the provocation of the C.M.S. people in the Niger Delta.
Crowther began translating the Bible into the Yoruba language and compiling a Yoruba dictionary. In 1843, a grammar book which he started working on during the Niger expedition was published; and a Yoruba version of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer followed later. Crowther also compiled A vocabulary of the Yoruba language,including a large number of local proverbs, published in London in 1852. He also began codifying other languages. Following the British Niger Expeditions of 1854 and 1857, Crowther produced a primer for the Igbo language in 1857, another for the Nupe language in 1860, and a full grammar and vocabulary of Nupe in 186
Bishop Crowther was on the island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean west of Morocco for a conference. He was accompanied by his son, Dandeson, an archdeacon, on church business in March 1881.
Crowther’s attention was directed more and more to languages other than Yoruba, but he continued to supervise the translation of the Yoruba Bible (Bibeli Mimọ), which was completed in the mid-1880s, a few years before his death. June 26 1864, crowther was 58, and he was consecrated Canterbury as the first bishop of the new Diocese on the Niger, by Charles Longley, Archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury Cathedral he held the post until his death on December, 31 1891. note that crowther get married to his wonderful wife Suan Thompson, Earlier in 1830 also a Yoruba liberated slave. His son, Dandeson took charge of the mission in 1871, at Bonny. Outside the missionary movement crowther also develop in human race, he also contributed in some of Nigeria Languages. Further more succeeded in compiling a Yoruba Grammar, a dictionary and Grammar of the Nupe languages, a Yoruba-English dictionary. He also translated many Books of the Bible into Yoruba. Doctorate honorary degree of Divinity was his profession at the oxford university. in the history of Africa crowther’s achievement entitle him to a pre-eminent. Crowther been Bishopric at the time when the black man, abuse Africans slave, as a ‘savage’ was significant. He further explain that the black man intellectually and spiritually.
Crowther most painful time.
One of the most painful events of his life was the death of Mrs. Crowther on October 19, 1880. The couple had suffered slavery together and shared the joy of freedom. They had just celebrated the golden jubilee of their wedding when she became ill, at a time the bishop was away on one of the long journeys to the Upper Niger. He returned only to find his devoted wife seriously ill. She later died in his arms.
The bishop soon suffered another blow in the death of his mother. She died in October 1883 at the age of ninety-seven years. He was traveling up the Niger when she passed away. On her death bed, she warned her granddaughter, Mrs. Macaulay not to write to bother the bishop. This was in keeping with what she had earlier told her son, “You are no longer my son, but the servant of God whose work you must attend unto without any anxiety for me.”
Finally, the death of Rev. Schon in 1889 was a personal blow to Bishop Crowther. It was Schon who had recommended that he pursue missionary work and was instrumental to his accepting consecration.
Other problems that perplexed the mind of the bishop towards the end of his life include the trafficking in liquor and the inordinate love for trade that caused unhealthy rivalry between the native African traders and Europeans. At this time Europeans were making claims and securing territorial possessions in Africa. The Niger and Benue were coveted waterways. Between 1877 and 1891, Nigeria became three separate British protectorates – Lagos, Oil Rivers and Territories of the Royal Niger Company. Inevitably, the change seriously affected the church and allowed Europeans to lord it over Africans. Different denominations began to grow. Missionaries who had been stationed on the coast moved into the interior. The Rev. James Johnson, a former lecturer at Fourah Bay College and who had been appointed to Abeokuta as a probable bishop, was recalled when this rivalry became tense. The clouds started to gather.
Crowther died of a stroke, in Lagos, on 31 December 1891 and was buried at Ajele Cemetery in Lagos. In 1971 the Lagos State Government under Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson desired to use the site of Ajele Cemetery for new government offices and issued notices to families of the deceased. The Anglican Bishop of Lagos, Rt Rev Seth Kale, representing the Anglican community and Crowther’s family delayed exhumation and reburial until 1976 when an elaborate ceremony was held at a new burial site along with a cenotaph at Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos. Though the bishop died at a very ripe age, some memories of what happened in his later life cannot but linger with us. The storms and trials that cropped up in his ministry towards the end did not make him waiver or forsake his ideal. He consistently and persistently upheld the value of native agency. They must have given him painful experiences. Robinson and Brook who caused the bishop so much embarrassment were members of the student volunteer movement. They had been saturated with the idea of evangelizing the world during their generation. They showed ability and devotion and out of emotion, they were prepared to die as martyrs. They condemned the rank and file of African Christians from Sierra Leone to Nigeria.