Ajayi Crowther: Celebrating 160 yrs of his consecration as first Black Bishop

by Church Times


By Dr. Motuntayo Adetola


Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther was Consecrated first Black Bishop 160 years ago.

On 29th July 1864, 160 years ago, on St. Peter’s Day 1864 in England’s Canterbury Cathedral, was consecrated the first Bishop of Niger.

Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther was an extraordinary man blessed by God to bring the gospel to our clime. He was ordained a Missionary Bishop (not a Diocesan Bishop in common narrative) of an area covering from Morocco in the West to Cameroon in the East.

That “Diocese of Niger” presided over by Crowther was certainly much bigger than this current redux,….(Anglican Diocese of Niger centered in Onitsha), it was all of West Africa and a bit more. The Bishop preached across Nigeria, from Lagos, Abeokuta, Lokoja, beyond the confluence, Numan Bay and more.

He loved Onitsha but he loved Bonny (present day Rivers state and site of our Natural gas project) too and had Church building and residence there too.

He got lots of support from Henry Venn the CMS secretary for his work and ministry which included, evangelism, Bible translations, book of common prayer, primers of Nupe and Igbo language, building schools, promoting skills development and trade.

Bishop Crowther built the first school in Northern Nigeria and that building is still in use today in Lokoja.

Some racists in the CMS establishment did undermine the excellent work the Bishop did in his old age by bringing in the dreaded “Finance committee” and didn’t even tell +Crowther what exactly he may have done wrong.

They were firing his staff and undermining him and he decided to resign but the man was like 90 years too at the time and had accomplished so much already.

A movie should be commissioned by CoN just for +Crowther and a post humorous GCFR awarded to recognize the sterling work he did in languages, education, commerce, humanitarian gestures like saving twins (before Mary Slessor) … etc


MJ Adetola June 2024.

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