Christian missions in Nigeria 1841-1891:

AJAYI, J. F. Ade
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London, (48 Grosvenor Street, London W.i ): Longman Green And Co. ,1965
Contents Christianity and civilization. The return of the exiles. Missionaries, traders and consuls. The mission and the state. Civilization around the mission house. Towards self-government in church and state. Bishop crowther, 1864-77 The turning of the tide. List of Maps I Metropolitan Provinces of Old Oyo 2 Presbyterian Mission Centres in Calabar 3 Missionary Expansion in Yoruba, 1853-60 4 Abeokuta, 1867 5 The Niger Mission List ofIllustrations 1 Plan of Mission Compound, Badagri, 1849 2 The Mission House, Badagri, 1849 3 Missionary Group, 1874 4 A Chip off the Old Block
The years 1841-1891 covered, roughly, the last half-century before the establishment ofBritish rule in Nigeria. 1841, the year ofthe first Niger Expedition, marked the beginning of the movement to re-establish Christianity in this country, following the failure of earlier Catholic missions in Benin and Warri. 1891, the year of Bishop Crowther’s death, marked the end of the first phase of this new movement, the phase when the success of the missionary enterprise was associated largely with the creation and the encouragement of a Western-educated and Christian middle class. For the history of Christian missions in Nigeria, this first phase was only the ‘seedling’ time in preparation for the great expansion that came later with British rule. For the history of Nigeria, however, it was in this earlier period that the work of the missionaries has its greatest significance. After 1891 their expansion was largely incidental to the establishment of the colonial administration. Before 1891 they had a greater measure of initiapve and their work had its own decisive influence. Things had not ‘fallen apart’. With the exception of Lagos, the different city-states and kingdoms, towns and villages, although increasingly under pressure from the British navy along the coast, still retained enough political authority and cultural stability to deal withmissionaries more orless on a basis of equality. There was no rush to join the Churches. Conversion among men in authority was negligible, except within the Delta states. For the most part, a dialogue was still possible between missionaries and the different communities, and there was room for ideas and personalities on both sides. It was not enough for the missionaries to be Europeans to be believed. They had to use education and the technology of Europe to argue, and to convince people. Later, the missionaries as Europeans became like gods, and tended to treat their parishioners as less thanmen. The dialogue was virtually suspended, for gods have no need to argue. The missionaries were able to exploit the prestige and the power of the white man already won by the colonial soldiers and administrators. It was then that, in the non-Muslim areas at least, the fabric of the old society gave way and people began to flock to the missions.