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Joseph Adejumo Adegbite
1918 to 1994
Nigerian Baptist Convention
Nigeria

Joseph Adejumo Adegbite, the Atayese of Awe and Asiwaju of Iwo, was a pastor at Shepherdhill Baptist Church in Lagos and contributed immensely to the development of Nigerian education.

He was born on August 2, 1918 at Awe near Oyo in the Western Region (now called Oyo State) of Nigeria into a devout Baptist family. His father was Pa Josiah Adegbite Adeleye, the Banishe of Awe, and his mother was Madam Mary Ijadunade Adegbite.

From 1923 to 1931 he attended Awe Baptist Day School. As a child, Adegbite disliked going to school because of a teacher who would swagger into class holding a cane behind his back and saying, "It is time for afrithmetic." He also disliked farming because he would get drenched by the dew on the leaves and shrubs he had to wade through to get to the farm. He attended Government College, Ibadan from 1932 to 1937 where he passed his middle sixth examinations, and then Higher College, Yaba in 1941 where he graduated with a diploma in physics and mathematics. He never knew there was another world outside the small Awe township and its environs until he went to Higher College, Yaba in 1938. There he discovered a much larger world.

Adegbite practiced only two professions in his youth: teaching and preaching. He taught mathematics and physics for almost thirty-five years-virtually his whole teaching career. He was not familiar with other secondary schools besides Government College, Ibadan, his alma mater, and Baptist Academy, where he spent most of his productive years.

In August 1941, he joined Baptist Academy, Obanikoro, Lagos as a science teacher and head of department. He remained at the school for twenty-one years until his retirement in 1975, except for a few years during his studies in the United States.

On December 22, 1943, Adegbite married Miss Victoria Adeola Ajoke after a fierce competition with other eligible suitors in Awe. Their marriage was blessed with five children: Dapo, Tayo, Joke, Tokunbo, and Debo.

In 1950, he earned a B.S. from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. He earned an M.A. in 1951 and a doctor of education degree in 1953 from Teacher's College at Columbia University in New York State. He also earned teachers' certificates that qualified him to work in Virginia and New York State.

In 1953 Adegbite returned to Nigeria where he first served as vice principal of Baptist Academy, Lagos for one year and then as principal from 1954 to 1975. As a "missionary teacher," he taught and preached almost full-time.

From 1941 to January 1978, he was a pillar in the First Baptist Church, Lagos, where he was ordained a deacon on December 25, 1955. In 1953, while he was vice principal of Baptist Academy, Adegbite also established Shepherdhill Baptist Church, Obanikoro, Ikorodu Road, Lagos. The church started after a revival service conducted by Evangelist Adeogun in 1969 when Adegbite assumed the pastorate of the church. The first regular service was held on July 13, 1969 with fifty-three in attendance. The church was formally organized on June 7, 1970 with eighty-nine members. At that time it was necessary to move Baptist Academy from its location on Broad Street in Lagos. In the late sixties the government attempted to appropriate land in the state but Adegbite fenced off the church land and went to considerable pains to convince those in authority that it belonged to the church. It was also through his efforts that the church's land was not taken over by the government in 1979.

Adegbite was ordained into the full Gospel Ministry at the church on October 31, 1981 at 10.00 a.m. His watch-words were honesty, discipline, diligence, integrity, and probity.

He was a man of honor. Between 1950 and 1985 he received at least ten awards for his achievements and contributions to humanity. He won the prestigious Alpha Kappa Mu scholarship in 1950, was mentioned in the 15th edition of Who's Who in American Education 1951-1952, and in the first edition of Leaders in American Science 1953-1954. Elizabeth II of England conferred on him the title of the most excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E) in 1960 for his contributions to Nigeria in the field of education and social upliftment.

From 1975 to 1979 he served as the first national director of Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. In 1978, he was made an honorary chief, the Asiwaju of Iwo, by the late Kabiyesi Oba S. O. Abimbola II, the Oluwo of Iwo. In 1982 he was appointed a justice of the peace by the government of Oyo State and was mentioned in Men of Achievement, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England. He received the Meritorious Service Award of the Nigerian Union of Teachers. That same year he also served on the National Ethical Re-orientation Committee. He was awarded a medallion for distinguished services to the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary School and received a certificate of honor as a distinguished "Old Boy" from the Government College Old Boys Association.

He contributed immensely to the development of education in Nigeria. In the course of his career he was a member, and in many instances, a principal officer, of forty-one religious organizations and professional associations. He served as vice president for the Nigerian Union of Teachers and a member of its national executive committee for many years until 1975. He was the co-founder and president of the All Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools in 1967 and a member of the Joint Commission on Education of the World Council of Christian Education from 1964 to 1968. In addition, he served on many boards and committees, including the board of the World Council of Christian Education from 1967 to 1971, the Executive Committee of the Baptist World Alliance from 1965 to 1970, and the Special Committee on the Implications of Nigeria's Membership in Organization of Islamic Conference (O.I.C.). [1] He served on the Youth Committee of the Baptist World Alliance and was vice president of that organization from 1965 to 1970. He was also the trade commissioner in the emergency government of Western Nigeria in 1962.

Adegbite also served numerous Christian organizations. In the 1960s he served on the Christian Council of Nigeria. He was the vice chairman for the Christian Health Association of Nigeria in 1982, board member and trustee of the All Africa Conference of Churches in 1985, and trustee, and vice president of the executive committee of the Nigerian Baptist Convention from 1974 to 1978. [2]

Adegbite contributed in no small measure to the educational and religious development of Nigerian youth. He published numerous books and articles on Nigerian education including, Science Education and Developmental Tasks of Nigerian Youth, Youth Organizations in Africa, The Teacher in a Competitive Society, The Problem of School Expansion and Education for Public Morality, and Adult Education as a Tool for Church Growth and Evangelism. This latter work was published for the Adult Education Department of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Ibadan.

An appreciation service was held for him by the Shepherdhill Baptist Church on October 4, 1986. He died on July 11, 1994 at the age of 79. He was survived by his wife deaconess (Dr.) Victoria Adeola Ajoke Adegbite (née Adejumobi) and five children: Mr. Adebayo Adegbite, Dr. (Mrs.) Adetayo Fashola Beyioku, Mrs. Adetokunbo Ojo, Dr. (Mrs.) Adejoke Adewumi, Adebowale Adegbite, and nine grand children.

Samuel Olatubosun Oyedele


Notes:

1. He also served on the executive committee of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession from 1971 to 1975, on the National University Commission from 1969 to 1974, and on the Federal Scholarship Advisory Board from 1955 to 1966,
2. Adegbite was also a member of the following: Phi Delta Kappa Professional Honor Society, American Society for advance of Science, National Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, Mathematics Association of Nigeria, Kentucky Science Teachers Association, Federal Juvenile Employment Committee, Public Accounts Committee, and the West African Examinations Council.

Sources:

Adegbite, Joseph A. Adult Education as a Tool for Church Growth and Evangelism. Ibadan: Baptist Press.
Shepherdhill Baptist Church. Programme of Appreciation Service for J. A. Adegbite. October 4, 1986.
The Life and Times of Rev. Dr. J. A. Adegbite. Somolu, Lagos: Shepherdhill Baptist Church, 1994.

This article, received in 2008, was researched and written by Samuel Olatubosun Oyedele, a student at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.