Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev Henry Ndukuba has commenced actualisation of the move to bring Osoogun community of Iseyin Local Council Area of Oyo State to prominence in the country’s historical and religious map, and establish it as a place of history, hope and transformation.
Many Nigerians are unaware of Osoogun’s prominence in Nigeria’s development and its role in the growth of Christianity, through the first African black Bishop of Nigeria, Samuel Ajayi Crowther (1822-1891), who planted Christianity in Yoruba, Igbo and Nupe lands and spread same to Bonny, Nembe and Opobo all in South-South and all the way to the Bachama people of Numan in Adamawa State.
Samuel Ajayi Crowther, scholar, linguist and translator, introduced the wider use of economic cash crops, such as cocoa, palm oil and maize to the West African region to empower the people, even before it was called Nigeria by the British colonial administration.
Osoogun currently suffers neglect, with an unattractive narrative of a hollow past of slavery, oppression and frustration. The community’s only pride is the relic of the dilapidated wall of his mother’s room, where Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s clothes and his mother’s covering clothe were buried, as well as the baobab tree to which the young Samuel was tied, the morning he was captured by the jihadists, who attacked the town, when most of the able-bodied men and women had gone to work and left the village vulnerable to the attackers. Samuel was taken captive and sold as a slave.
An assessment team consisting of the General Secretary, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Ven. Dr. Paul G. Dajur and the Personal Assistant to Primate, Ven. Dr. Olayemi Fatusi, were at Osoogun on August 31, 2020 and met with the Rt. Rev Olugbenga Olukemi Oduntan of Ajayi Crowther Diocese, accompanied by Dean of the Cathedral of St. Paul, Iseyin, Ven. John Kolawole Adeleke and other diocesan staff to assess the progress of work at the Ajayi Crowther Memorial Centre, which, when completed, will be the Church of Nigeria Missions training school and a launching pad for global missions.
The mission centre is targeted to reach out to the unreached people of the world, as well as be a mission research and planning institution. Osoogun is being redesigned to be a historic tourist centre.
This project is expected to open up Osoogun to a more rapid development. Already, the Satellite Campus of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, is changing Osoogun’s story, placing it as a hub of manpower development, both in secular and Christian missions.
The assessment team got support from Church fathers such as Bishop James Odedeji of Lagos West; Bishop Emmanuel Adekunle of Egba Diocese and the host Bishop Olukemi O. Oduntan of Ajayi Crowther Diocese. The commitment of the Primate, Church of Nigeria, Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba and all the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Nigeria reflected the importance of the project, not just to the Church of Nigeria, but also to global missionary enterprise. Andrew Walls, a Christian Historian once said: “It is time for a generation to take Crowther as her hero, to get inside that life, seek out his neglected written works, republish and distribute them.”