A portrait of Anna with her husband, David. [2*]
The English wife of the nineteenth century
missionary to the Yoruba country, David
Hinderer, Anna Hinderer (née Martin) was born in Hempnall,
Norfolk, on March 19, 1827. She lost her mother at the age of
five and was brought up by her father. At twelve she moved over
to reside in the home of her grandfather and aunt, Rev. Francis
and Mrs. Cunningham, in the parish of Lowestoft, England. 
Her religious formation, which was temporarily slowed down by
her mother's death, received new impulse from her residence
with the Cunninghams. The church environment made strong impression
on her, and very early she grew desirous of making something
of her life for God's service. But she perceived that her adopted
parents would consider her too young to do anything presently.
She later wrote about these early days in Lowestoft:
1827 to 1870
I longed to do something. I had a strong desire
to become a missionary, to give myself up to some holy work,
and I had a firm belief that such a calling would be mine.
I think this was from a wish to be a martyr; but I wanted
to do something then. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham knew little
of me then; they looked kindly at me often...I often thought
if I might have a few little children in the Sunday school
to teach, it would be an immense pleasure. I was afraid to
ask it, but having my aunt's consent, when I was between twelve
and thirteen, I ventured one Saturday, after passing dear
Mrs. Cunningham three times, to make my request, fearing all
the time that she would say I was too young, and too small;
but what was my joy when she smiled so kindly upon me...and
told me to go to the school at eight o'clock the next morning....I
was up early enough; a heavy snow was upon the ground; but
that was nothing. I went, and six little ones were committed
to my care... 
Mrs. Hinderer would also date her conversion to this period
of service when, in the course of her teaching, she wondered
if she herself had appropriated the lessons she was teaching
the younger ones:
I felt the want of something to make me happy, something
that the world could not give; and I think, while talking
to these little ones of Jesus, it entered my mind, "Had I
gone to Him myself?" I went on seeking and desiring, and often
said and felt "Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it; seal
it for Thy courts above," and I was comforted in the sense
that God would do it. This was doubtless the movement of the
Blessed Spirit in my soul. I saw my need of a Saviour, and
in the Saviour I felt there was all I needed, and I was by
degrees permitted to lay hold on eternal life... 
Although she was acutely aware of her sinfulness, which was
typical of evangelical Christianity of her day, Anna Martin
found purpose in her increasing occupation in the vicarage and
the godly influence radiated by Mrs. Cunnigham who treated with
"sweet dignity" the visitors that daily streamed into the vicarage.
Diligence, respect and compassion were the legacies bequeathed
her by the venerable couple,  and how much of these she imbibed
would become manifest when her missionary aspiration was realized
some twelve years later.
On October 14, 1852, she married Rev.
David Hinderer of Schondorf, Wurtenberg, Germany; a missionary
of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) who had briefly returned
to Europe to fully prepare for service in the Yoruba country.
She was deliberate and resolute in her commitment to the young
missionary who had just located in Ibadan the possible place
of his lifelong vocation. Happily, the years of residence and
children work in Lowestoft had prepared her for what would be
her peculiar assignment as she labored alongside her husband.
Entering the Lion's Den
After her temporary stay at Abeokuta waiting for her husband
to get their house ready in Ibadan, Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer finally
arrived in the town at the end of April 1853. They received
a rousing welcome, full of excitement,
[A]s soon as we touched the town there was such
a scene, men, women, and children shouting and screaming,
"The white man is come!" -- "Oibo 'de!" and "The white
mother is come!" and then their thousands of salutations,
everybody opening eyes and mouth at me. All seemed pleased,
but many frightened too when I spoke; they followed us to
our own dwelling place with the most curious shouts, noises,
and exclamations. All seemed perfectly bewildered; horses,
sheep, goats, did not know where or which way to go. Even
the pigeons looked ready to exclaim, "What is happening?"
Mr. Hinderer had had a foretaste of his missionary environment
during his five month reconnaissance visit to Ibadan in 1851,
and he knew there were obstacles to overcome before his mission
would be firmly established there. In addition to the possible
conflicts conversion from indigenous religions might generate,
the Muslims too mounted open and subtle opposition to the mission.
And although Ibadan's domination of the country was a potential
advantage to his plan, since, by extension, it opens the country
to his missionary exploit, the social values of the people were
inimical to his message. Mid-nineteenth century Ibadan was a
violent society. Rustic and completely out of touch with the
outside world, the town was under a military aristocracy. Yoruba
religion and Islam held sway among the people, both of which
were being practiced in syncretistic union. Toughness was regarded
as manliness and the warlords of the day hardly exercised restraints
in pursuing their ambition. The cost was the ruthless decimation
of the country in fratricidal wars of conquest, plunder, and
The missionary couple adopted a two-prong approach to the evangelization
of the town. Regular street preaching was addressed at adults.
But the agency that would root the work in the country must
be developed from the rank of the children who had not been
fully socialized into the prevailing culture of violence. As
Mr. Hinderer led the mission but concentrated on the work of
the church, Mrs. Hinderer derived a fulfilling ministry in working
with children whom they boarded in their modest house at Kudeti
The first two children they received into their home were given
them by a young war chief, Olunloyo. He committed his six year
old daughter and four year old son, Yejide and Akielle respectively,
to the couple. Yejide insisted on returning home at the end
of the first day with the missionaries and persuaded her younger
brother to follow her back home, because she had been told that
white people eat human beings at night. Akielle, at first, followed
her counsel but soon returned to the mission house while her
sister passed the night with her parents. Yejide was only convinced
of her safety with the missionary couple when she returned the
following day and found her brother alive and well.
It is not certain why Olunloyo gave his children to these strangers
in town, about whom many were still uncertain.  It may not
be possible to ascertain his motive, since he did not live long
enough to commit himself to Christianity. However, he was deeply
committed to the well being of the missionaries and did all
that was within his capacity to see them fully settled in the
town. He appears like one of those drawing close to the light
of the gospel by degrees when death took him away in the battlefield
while the couple was away to England between 1856 and 1857.
He only had a foretaste of what conversion could mean when Akielle
refused to participate in one of the family's traditional sacrifices
after taking residence with the Hinderers. His quiet acquiescence
in the face of his son's vehement refusal is the only evidence
that a longer acquaintanceship with the mission might have led
him in the way of the new faith. However this relationship is
understood, Christian tradition in Ibadan today rightly recognizes
his children, Yejide and Akielle, as the first converts to Christianity
in Ibadan. 
Another child that resided early with the missionary family
was Laniyonu, the son of Mele, a difficult neighbor of the mission.
Mele was once very influential in the politics of Ibadan, but
he fell into bad times and had to relocate to the fringes of
the town. His misfortune demonstrated the delicate and ruthless
nature of Ibadan politics. At any rate, his son was among the
children who came to live under the roof of the Hinderers. The
fourth child was an orphan and a brother of the mission schoolmaster.
Within the first month of her residence in Ibadan these four
children were entrusted to the care of Mrs. Hinderer.  Although
she was still an object of curiosity with the womenfolk, she
had no doubt that they loved and appreciated her; hence, she
could write soon after arriving in the country about "their
kind and respectful and really polite way of speaking, and...their
tender and affectionate feeling towards me..." 
Swimming against the Current
In spite of the initial acceptance the missionary couple received
on arriving in Ibadan, three major challenges soon confronted
them. The first was the challenge of ill health. Mrs. Hinderer
experienced her first bout of seasoning fever barely a week
after arriving in Lagos on January 5, 1853; this delayed the
couple's movement to Ibadan via Abeokuta. During her temporary
stay at Abeokuta she saw what would become a familiar pattern
in serving as a missionary in the country: the deaths of missionaries
as a result of the tropical environment that was not conducive
to the constitution of Europeans. And both she and her husband
had many health breakdowns and near-death experiences throughout
their time in Ibadan. The missionary couple and their colleagues
and assistants in the town, therefore, spent much time nursing
one another as illnesses incapacitated them at turn, with Theophilus
Kefer becoming, in May 1855, the first fatality in their team.
The second major challenge in their early years in the country
was the social ambivalence of the people towards the mission.
On the one hand, they enjoyed the novelty of having this exotic
species of human beings in their town and did not cease to be
intrigued by their novelties in religious practices and building
construction. On the other hand, many were afraid of the radical
nature of the religion they were promoting, which some considered
dangerous and socially drab and weak, fit only for women and
children.  They feared that the abandonment of the tested
ways of the ancestors could incur their wrath and those of the
traditional divinities. Expectedly, the priests of traditional
religions were not wanting in intensifying this fear. Moreover,
the Christian ethos was at variance with the social ethos of
the ambitious younger generation who wanted wealth and fame,
which were easily attainable through their wars of pillage and
conquests. The perceived intrigues of the Muslim clerics, who
were connected with political authorities in the country, added
to these problems as they did not like to see Christianity rooted
among the people.
The third challenge to Mrs. Hinderer's work flowed from the
second. Domestic persecution of the converts erupted with the
success of the mission as the Christian message made its slow
but sure inroad into Ibadan society. Although there were no
town-wide persecutions like those of 1849 Abeokuta, the years
1855 and 1856 were particularly difficult for the mission.
These challenges undermined Mrs. Hinderer's work and occasionally
slowed it down. Recurrent illnesses made her sometimes unavailable
to the children, and inconsistencies in enrollment at her school
bothered her. Whereas four months after her arrival in Ibadan,
the initial rank of four pupils she started with had swelled
to sixteen in August 1853,  enrollment fell with her absence
to Abeokuta to recuperate her health early in 1854. This was
in contrast to earlier expectation of receiving seven more children
to the home after the completion of the bigger house Mr. Hinderer
was working on. When she returned to the new and bigger accommodation
in May, after a few weeks in Abeokuta, she discovered that two
of her boys, Adelotan and Abudu, had been withdrawn by their
parents. The former was not allowed to appear around the mission
while Abudu approached his teacher with grief that his father
had effected his withdrawal.  Ifa had told his parents at
his birth that Abudu was to be a "book boy," and they had consequently
given him a Muslim name, Islam being the only religion of book
known to the country then.  Apparently with the coming of
Christianity they had thought of another possibility, hence
their sending him to the mission. But the social ambivalence
of the age threatened his continued residence at the mission.
Happily, he eventually found his way back like his companion,
Laniyonu, who was also withdrawn for a time by his contentious
In the heat of the domestic persecutions directed at the converts,
three more boys were withdrawn by their parents early in 1855,
ostensibly at the instruction of local divinities but actually
at the counsel of the local priests whose trades were under
threat. When, the following year, another boy who was sick was
taken from Mrs. Hinderer, she lamented her loss:
You must share my sorrow...Another little boy has
been taken from me by his heathen parents, a child who has
been a long time with me. The worst is, I can never see him,
he does not come near me, so that I cannot tell whether his
heart is still with us, or whether he has been turned to former
fashion [i.e. Yoruba religions]. It is a sore trial to me,
I have felt I would rather have laid him in our quiet burial
This spate of withdrawals was, however, compensated for by additions
from unexpected quarters. When the missionary couple visited
Oyo in 1856, just before their vacation in England, a small
girl became endeared to Mrs. Hinderer and pleaded that she be
allowed to follow her to Ibadan. At the Alafin's permission,
Konigbagbe returned with them to the mission in Ibadan. Additions
also came from the opportunity to redeem some traumatized child
slaves in Ibadan. This did not only compensate for their loss,
but it also publicly brought to the fore the contrast in the
values of mid-nineteenth century Ibadan society and those the
missionaries were commending to the people.
Life where Death Reigned
A unique value the missionaries were promoting in Ibadan and
which readily struck the people was the work of mercy the missionary
couple made part of their missionary work. The perennial slave-raiding
wars of Ibadan produced a large slave population in the town
some of whom eventually survived their ordeals and were integrated
into families. This happened mostly where women slaves became
additional wives in the households of their masters. But many
also did not survive. Hunger and diseases wasted some, and there
were occasions of abandonments when slave owners considered
their captives too costly to maintain for reason of their ill
health. A few women in such situation were given succor in the
mission and were nursed by Mrs. Hinderer. The children, however,
benefitted most from this rescue mission and became part of
the fledgling mission community. The story of a small girl and
her mother from the Efon country, that is Ekitiland, well illustrates
one of such works of mercy.
In 1854, Ibadan war boys raided the country with fierce violence,
destroyed the towns, captured many of the people and brought
their victims home as slaves. During the raid, a woman and her
daughter fled into the forest to avoid being captured. Their
husband and father seems to have fallen in the puny resistance
their town mounted against the overwhelming force of their assailants.
After several days in the forest, surviving on leaves and roots,
they decided to take their rest under a tree. Two of the invaders
suddenly swooped on them and quickly tore mother and child apart
and escaped in different directions. They did not listen to
their plea for mercy. The unhappy seven year old girl was brought
to Ibadan as a slave. A convert of the mission who himself had
come to Ibadan as a slave tried, though unsuccessfully, to cheer
her up; but she remained disconsolate. When he heard that her
owner was about to sell her to traders going to the coast from
where she might never be retrieved again, he went hastily to
Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer to explain the situation. He encouraged
them to redeem the girl as he had no money to effect her ransom.
The couple gave him the money, and in no time he appeared at
the mission with the child.
The poor child was initially terrified at the presence of her
"white" benefactors; but with the cheerful encouragement of
the other children in residence, she was assured that at the
mission she would never be a slave. Ogunyomi soon became a happy
girl in the Hinderers' home, intrigued by the songs and the
alphabets she was learning and the magic of needle work. But
with time, she fell into melancholy again. When she was asked
the reason for her cheerless mood, "She burst into tears 'Iya
mi,' 'iya mi!'"--"My mother, my mother!" Mrs. Hinderer encouraged
her to pray to God to bring her mother if that was his will
for her. Such prayer was a tall order in a town of over one
hundred thousand people and where slaves were often given new
names on arrival. The chance of such reunion was extremely low,
if not impossible. But providence had not yet finished with
Six months after she had taken residence at the mission, she
went to the nearby Kudeti stream with her mates to draw some
water. A woman was passing by who was intrigued by the children's
white dresses. But, more than that, she heard a voice that sounded
like her daughter's among the lively chatters of the children
and took time to listen very well. She recognized the unmistakable
voice of her supposed lost child and exclaimed, "Ogunyomi!"
Ogunyomi turned around at the direction of her caller and stared
for a moment at her. On recognizing that it was her mother,
she rushed into her lively embrace, screaming "Iya mi, iya mi!"
The other children made a hasty return home shouting, "Ogunyomi
has found her mother!"
Ogunyomi's mother was told all the missionaries had done for
her daughter, and she recounted her own journey into slavery
in Ibadan. She rejoiced at the redemption of her daughter and
paid her regular visits. But soon these stopped and Ogunyomi
fell back into her melancholy. The missionary couple investigated
the reason for her stopping the visit and found that she had
become seriously ill beyond any hope of recovery. For the sake
of her daughter, they paid her ransom fee and brought her to
the mission where they nursed her to life again. On recovering
they employed her as a domestic helper, cooking for the children.
Lucy Fagbeade became a Christian and happily lived in the mission
with her daughter until her death in 1867. She lived to serve
the mission for eleven years. 
Sophie Ajele's story was a direct contrast to Ogunyomi. When
the missionary couple was away to England in 1856, their catechist,
James Barber, took in a little girl because her mother wanted
to sell her. When the matter was taking before the chief, the
father agreed that the missionaries could take her up if they
were willing. Before her adoption to live in the mission, she
had suffered neglect. She had measles and for three days her
mother refused to give her food. After she was received into
the mission, the mother relocated to Ijaye and was not seen
for a long time. Then she sneaked into town to steal the child
away, but found her still with measles. She pretended to have
come to take care of her. When she began to rain abuses on her
daughter's benefactor she was forced out of the mission compound,
but not until she had administered to her daughter a dangerous
dose of poison. Days later, she returned and the same scenario
of verbal abuse played out again. The poor girl held tenaciously
to Mrs. Hinderer, begging her not to allow her mother to take
her away because she would only sell her away.
Sophie was an affectionate child who took interest in always
sitting near her adopted mother, gazing at the picture of Jesus
blessing children. But she had a weak constitution and eventually
succumbed to the fatal scourge of the disease that wasted her.
Yet her short spell in the mission gratified Mrs. Hinderer who
gave her utmost attention and care. She and the other children
were affected by her death. The same evening, when she died,
Mrs. Hinderer wrote that she and the other children in residence,
"followed her to the silent grave, where we laid her just as
the shades of night were coming over us." 
The stories of Ogunyomi and Sophie are not isolated cases of
the Hinderers' acts of mercy. Several others reaped from their
home. In 1854, they retrieved Arubo and brought to the mission
this "cold, starved, and filthy" slave boy who was thrown out
of a compound and was pleading with passers-by on Ijaye road
to buy him.  The following year, another smart boy was redeemed
from slavery and found security in living with Mrs. Hinderer.
 About the middle of 1858 when Mr. Hinderer was touring
the interior to prospect for mission posts, Olubi retrieved
a little baby, less than a week old, abandoned by a stream.
Suspected to have been thrown away because he was a twin child,
he was brought to the mission where Mrs. Hinderer nursed him
for three weeks. He had suffered much through the cold night
and eventually died.  Still, in the war years that followed
that of Ijaye, another child, about six months old, in similar
circumstances was retrieved from a stream in 1864. She rallied
again to full health and was given the name Eyila, meaning "this
is saved." She became a bundle of joy in the mission. 
The rank of children in Mrs. Hinderer's school also swelled
from the additions to the families of the agents. When the couple
was returning from their vacation in England in 1857, they stopped
over in Sierra Leone where they recruited two agents, Mr.
Henry Johnson and Mr. William S. Allen. The two families
brought to Ibadan six children.  The growing family of Daniel
Olubi, their much trusted servant and agent, continued the expansion,
first in Daniel, jr. and, then, in Bertha.
But male and adult sufferers of the age also benefitted from
the home of the missionary couple. Antonio, a former slave and
returnee immigrant from Brazil, and his family found shelter
with the mission, away from the hostility of his relations.
Although he spent much of his time on his farm, for ten years
he found refuge with the missionary couple and converted from
his catholic faith to evangelical Christianity. Antonio died
in 1867, and he was soon followed by his wife. The missionary
couple took care of their two children--Talabi, a girl, and
her brother--whom their unconverted, extended family members
wanted to inherit as slaves. Mrs. Hinderer described Talabi
as "a wonderful trouble, ten Topsies in one...I have much anxieties,
now that she is growing up." 
Mother, Playfellow, and Teacher
Mrs. Hinderer took a lively interest in her children and they
soon grew fond of her. She managed the first team she had from
1853 as a playgroup. When she gave them a break at the end of
the year, the children did not like the fact they would miss
their time with her. When she gave them the option of coming
from home to take lessons, they readily jumped at the offer.
They found her stories and lessons stimulating. In the midst
of the multifarious demands on her as the mother of the mission,
the presence of the children was her most pleasant joy. "Our
home life is one of privation," she wrote early in 1855, "and
often of trial and difficulty, but a very occupied one, and
one of much hope and interest." "I have not time to be idle,
truly," she continued, "and I think never a night has come without
my being thoroughly tired...The dear children are my greatest
outward comforts. I like to hear them singing, not with the
taste and mellowness of our English children, yet with much
heart and real enjoyment." 
Mrs. Hinderer's education program for her children was a total
one. She gave attention to their grooming and demeanor, and
spiced their training with music. The girls were also introduced
to needlework. They initially found daily washing "unheard-of
absurdity," but with discipline they soon got entrenched into
the regimen.  Coming also from a society where noise and
chattering was the norm, they thought it strange to be ordered
to be quiet and silent. It was at the family prayers that their
appreciation for silence began to emerge, and Mrs. Hinderer
wrote soon after a few months of gathering them, "Nothing composes
them so much as music. We always sing a hymn with the harmonium
at prayer, with which they are delighted. But though decidedly
a care and no slight trouble, I would not for anything be without
them; they will lose their wildness in time, and they are so
When the couple returned from their trip to England in January
1858, Mrs. Hinderer was happy for the management of her children
and school in her absence by their catechist, Barber, and Olubi
and his wife. She even saw the evidence of the Spirit at work
in the life of the children. Unlike the depressing situations
they left behind in 1856 because of the intense persecutions
of their converts in their homes, things looked up in 1858.
Although they returned shortly before the hot season set in,
they coped very well, possibly because the mission and its converts
were less troubled this time. Evidently, the spirit was also
at work in the wider community as more people began to appreciate
their work and acceded to the church. In February 1858, she
was reporting on 27 children in her care; few months after,
she wrote, "My thirty children are very prosperous, very good,
very naughty, and very noisy, just as it happens..." 
Mrs. Hinderer continued to take joy in working with her children
and delighted in their company. She once wrote, "I do wish you
could see my children, we take great pains with them, and they
are in some order, and are getting on very well. They are always
about us, and out of school hours I can never stir without a
flock around me."  In her teaching, she drew lessons from
nature and used picture illustrations she brought from England,
and these both delighted the children and brought home the lessons
she was passing across to them.  It was at the height of
the domestic persecutions that eight of them were baptized along
with six others on November 9, 1855. Mrs. Hinderer decked her
children--Onisaga, Akielle, Laniyonu, Arubo, Elukolo, Abudu,
Ogunyomi, and Mary Ann Macaulay--all in white for the occasion.
It was a significant event in which some of the neighbors of
the mission came to acknowledge the futility of their conspiracy
to keep their people from going to the mission. 
Times that Try the Soul of Men
The work of the mission was on a good footing and arrangements
were being made for expansion into the interior when war broke
out between Ibadan and its neighbor, Ijaye, in January 1860.
In the alliances that complicated the war, Ibadan was shut in
by their Egba and Ijebu neighbors to the south. The drumbeat
of war reminded the missionaries how much still needed to be
done to transform the bloodthirsty town into a city of peace.
Meanwhile, the war brought the mission much woes. At first,
Mrs. Hinderer stored food in the house for her children, and
they had a large store of cowries to meet their purchasing needs.
But as the war became protracted the store steadily grew empty
and the cowries were exhausted; the war did not restrain the
children's appetite.  With her husband's illness at hand
and the need to continue to care for those children who had
nowhere else to go, she was occupied with domestic affairs.
The gifts sent from England by Lady Buxton could not be delivered
for the fear of their being impounded on the way to Ibadan.
Eight months into the war, she wrote with near despair, "Our
future looks very dark." 
The year was indeed a tough one for the missionary couple, and
Mrs. Hinderer was emotionally stretched. As the year wore on
and the economic situation of the town became increasing difficult,
the Christian band suffered bereavement in the death of a woman
who had been badly persecuted by her family members for becoming
Christian. The incident became useful in the hand of the people
as they criticized the missionaries when they could not raise
her back to life again. They wondered what value was in a religion
that made people to abandon the good ways of their fathers only
to be struck dead by the gods while the missionaries could not
bring the person back to life again? At the same time, another
woman lapsed from faith because of the overwhelming persecution
of her relations and returned to good health afterwards. These
two incidents gave the critics of the mission occasions to triumph.
The social environment of war was particularly distressing as
Mrs. Hinderer wrote, "We are weary with war, sounds of war,
talks of war, anticipations of war; but we have been mercifully
kept and comforted."  Of all their woes, the unrestrained
bias of the Egba elements in their mission was most troubling,
because it brought the conflicting sentiments of war mongers
under their very roof.  And, much more, the missionary couple
found it embarrassing and Mr. Hinderer had to keep it under
control as it was a major threat to the continuous existence
of the mission. With all these troubles at hand and the store
of cowries greatly diminished, Christmas was not celebrated
in December 1860.  But the Christmas day service held with
the children "in church, washed, and oiled, and dressed in their
very best, their wooly hair freshly plaited (which sometimes
is not done for months altogether), and looking as cheerful
as possible..." 
Mrs. Hinderer had to be resourceful in providing for the seventy
mouths for which the mission was responsible--herself and her
husband, the children in the mission, and the agents and their
families. She devised various ways of preparing yam for meal
to make it palatable and managed with beans and palaver soup
while her husband relished the Indian corn flour made into porridge.
There were enough of these foods in town, but there were no
cowries to purchase enough.  An attempt to take loans from
the chief saw Mr. Hinderer visiting the camp on the eve of the
New Year, 1861. Although Ifa forbade giving him the loan he
asked for, some of the chiefs gave personal donations in acknowledgement
of his person and the good work he was doing in the town. 
With the evident proof that the situation in the mission was
no longer sustainable, Mrs. Hinderer sent back home all the
children in her custody who had parents to support them. From
home they came to school daily. Another woman volunteered to
take an orphan to herself to relieve the pressure on Mrs. Hinderer.
 The dire situation was also an occasion to reproach them
by people for whom lack of trouble was a sign of favor with
the gods. They say, "What is the use of their serving God? They
die, and they get trouble; and Ifa and Sango, &c., &c.,
often help us. The Mohammedans say, God loves us well, but we
do not worship Him the right way, and do not give honor to His
In the adverse situation the couple found themselves, Mrs. Hinderer
began to sell some articles in the home some of which she had
earlier considered useless; but now she knew the people would
like to buy them. She and the children brought out and spent
hours in polishing old tin match-boxes, biscuit boxes, and the
lining of deal chests. When they exhausted selling these, they
began to dispose household utensils for cowries at prices below
their values, just to have cowries to buy food.  Later,
she sold her gown to get cowries worth just £1, far below
its value. 
But there were also occasional supports from unexpected quarters,
such as gifts of cowries from a member of the church and loan
from a relation of their agent, Olubi. On one of those difficult
days she received gifts of Indian corn from a woman passerby
who was impressed that she could speak her Yoruba language and
entered into an interesting conversation with her on her mission
in Ibadan. Another assistance came from her milk supplier who,
although would never want to hear the gospel, insisted on supplying
her household their need for milk at no cost to them for one
full year. When Mrs. Hinderer later sent her some cowries in
recognition of her services, she refused to take the payment
saying, "I did it because you were strangers in a strange land,
and I will not take anything for it." 
Their woes deepened with months and years. When Mr. Hinderer
undertook a dangerous trip to Lagos in March 1861through the
forbidden territory of Awujale, the Ijebu king, he lost much
of what he got. The caravan he used to send them to Ibadan was
attacked and he lost his provisions. What he got for money in
Lagos to change to cowries was swindled by the Ijebu trader
who promised to bring him cowries in Ibadan. He was only mercifully
protected himself on the journey as the Awujale set a price
on his head for staying in Ibadan and daring to pass through
his territory to the coast. His successful return, though near
empty-handed, elicited rapturous joy throughout the town; and
gifts of food and cowries poured in for the mission from all
quarters in celebration of his safe arrival. 
Years passed on, and although Ibadan succeeded in destroying
Ijaye in 1862, the conflict continued on different fronts with
the Egba and Ijebu peoples; and Ibadan remained shut in. Mr.
and Mrs. Hinderer remained at their post, but not much could
be done to advance the mission except to keep it running. Survival
became paramount in the face of recurring illnesses of both
of them. But creativity was not all lost although everything
that could fetch them cowries had been disposed of. The children
continued their lessons and Mrs. Hinderer cultivated beds of
onions, which one of the women in the church sold for her, again
far below their values just to have cowries to purchase food.
 Between 1862 and 1864, attempts by the colonial administration
of Captain Glover in Lagos were made impossible by the hostility
of the Ijebu king who would not give his embassies passage.
Their missionary colleagues at Abeokuta too were half-hearted
in relieving them, having taken side with their Egba hosts in
the feud. 
The work continued, however, but there were no teaching materials
for the children. They had no Bible, and Mrs. Hinderer's stock
of teaching aids had worn out by 1864 and had to be carefully
held together while teaching. Happily, the children were making
good progress in their religious and temporal education. 
It was in the midst of these woes that the tiny tot, Eyila,
was retrieved from the brook and brought to the mission.
Relief finally came to the couple in April 1865 when the governor
sent his officer, Captain Maxwell, to Ibadan to fetch the missionary
couple. Maxwell cut through the pathless forest to reach Ibadan
at 10.00pm with provisions for the couple to make the journey
back the next morning. Caught unawares by the governor's provision,
only Mrs. Hinderer could make the journey so hastily. She had
to set out very early before the enemies became apprised with
the venture and before the children woke up to make parting
difficult. But Konigbagbe, the eldest of the lot, accompanied
her mistress on the non-stop match to the coast. Mr. Hinderer
stayed for few more weeks to make his own exit, after making
arrangements for the mission in his absence.
The return to England offered them opportunity to recoup their
health and to visit friends, both in England and in Germany.
It was also an opportunity for them to raise support for the
impoverished Ibadan Mission and their work with the children.
While they were doing these things they were receiving news
of the proceedings at Ibadan. The first news they received in
their mail was the death of Arubo, the boy they had rescued
from starvation on Ijaye road eleven years before. In these
years he had made significant and all round progress in his
formation under Mrs. Hinderer. The next mail brought them the
sad tiding of the death of Eyila, the little baby that had grown
fond of Mrs. Hinderer.  Mr. Hinderer had recounted to his
wife on arrival in England that she could not understand her
"mother's" absence at first. At daybreak, on the day Mrs. Hinderer
left Ibadan, Eyila:
[C]ame joyfully into Mr. Hinderer's room, thinking
her Iya would be waiting to give her the usual greeting; but
when her bright eyes looked for her in vain, she climbed on
Mr. Hinderer's knee, and throwing her arms around his neck,
sobbed convulsively. She could only explain her grief by leading
him to the door, to make another vain search for her Iya on
the road by which she had seen her set out. 
Mrs. Hinderer returned with her husband to Ibadan again in December
1866, having been away for about eighteen months. The mission
and the converts remained steady, and Konigbagbe was now married
with a child.  By February 1867, she was in full force again:
Three of the boys are learning harmonium; it is
a work of patience...I have Akielle and Oyebode every morning
for lessons, general history, geography, Nicholl's Help, &c.,
the girls for sewing from twelve to two o'clock, and I am
now forming a class of women who live near us, to teach them
to sew, once a week. These are some of the regular doings,
and the irregular may be called legion, doctoring [i.e. nursing
the sick and wounded], mending, housekeeping, receiving visitors.
One of the fruits of their trip to England was the printing
of the Pilgrim's Progress in Yoruba language, the translation
of which Mr. Hinderer undertook with his agent, Mr. Henry Johnson,
during the wars that shut the mission in from 1860 to 1865.
Mrs. Hinderer reported that her class of women on Sunday afternoons
"were greedy for it; we each read a paragraph, and talk about
it; and on the Sunday evenings, after a little scripture repeating,
and hymn-singing, I read it with my girls and D. with the boys;
they are perfectly charmed." She goes on to write that, "Their
open mouths and exclamations, when the full meaning of something
in it presents itself vividly before them, are most entertaining."
Things were easing up for the mission in Ibadan when the riot
broke out in 1867 at Abeokuta, during which the churches were
plundered and destroyed and the missionaries were prohibited
from the country by the Egba and Ijebu authorities. The rampaging
elements at Abeokuta sent some of their loots to the chiefs
in Ibadan indicating to them to do the same to the mission in
their midst, but Ibadan authorities acquitted their missionaries.
 Nevertheless, the mission lost its momentum under the missionary
couple after this incident. Ill health plagued them over and
again, and the same privation they experienced before they returned
to England played out before them as Ibadan was shut in again
for entertaining their presence in the country. Yet, there were
occasions for joy.
By the time they returned from their trip to Europe, some of
the children they had trained were coming into service with
the mission. Hethersett Laniyonu, one of the earliest recruits
of 1853, and Samuel Johnson, who joined them in January 1858
from Sierra Leone, had finished their studies at Abeokuta Training
Institution in December 1865. Laniyonu and Konigbagbe were serving
at Ogunpa as schoolmaster and mistress there and were making
an impact. Mrs. Hinderer wrote, "Koni is so energetic; she had
my best powers spent on her, and she is capital. Laniyono is
doing well, persevering and industrious."  Samuel Johnson
too was serving at Kudeti, another sign of hope for a virile
However, the year 1868 was one of mixed blessings. In spite
of the hard times, Christian witness was gently but steadily
penetrating families and compounds through the quiet work of
the converts in their homes.  The unconverted were taking
more interest in the message and were asking questions as never
before. Adeyemi of Katunga, an old prince of the defunct Oyo
metropolis, embraced the faith after many years of belligerent
argument against it and was baptized on Advent Sunday, November
30, with seven other candidates. Mrs. Hinderer was cheered by
these silver linings in the horizon.
But bereavement also struck the mission in the death of one
of the young girls, fourteen year old Moleye.  Soon after,
two of the "big boys" in the mission lapsed from the faith and
veered into dark, pagan practices.  Ill health also continued
to ravage the lives of the couple. In fact, it became clear
in 1868 that Mrs. Hinderer's health had become materially damaged,
and it would not be possible for her and her husband to remain
in the country much longer. Hints on their situation again reached
Governor Glover in Lagos, who, possibly with the solicitation
of the missionaries now restricted to Lagos, planned their exit.
As in 1865, he sent a secret expedition that cut its way through
the forest to fetch them to the coast, arriving unexpectedly
in Ibadan on New Year's eve. And still because they were unprepared
for the arrival of the mission, only Mrs. Hinderer, who was
in a bad state of health, returned with them to Lagos on January
5, 1869, closing her seventeen years of service in the Yoruba
country.  Less than eighteen months after, she passed away
in Martham, Norfolk, in England, on June 6, 1870.
The Legacy of Anna Hinderer
By giving her energy to the nurturing of the children in Ibadan,
Mrs. Hinderer chose to invest in the future of the work. Her
impact can, therefore, be assessed mainly by following the track
of those who profited from her spiritual, moral, and intellectual
formation. From this perspective, her success can only be judged
as modest. For she herself knew that not all the children that
came under her care turned out right. Among classical failures,
Laniyonu ranked first. He showed much prospects as a child and
as a trained agent of the mission, only to derail and bring
the faith into disrepute. When he was dismissed from the service
of the mission in 1868, he was one failure too many for Mrs.
Hinderer who lamented, "These are deeper and more heart-searching
trials than anything from the poor heathen." 
Nevertheless, others who profited from her vindicated her training
and went on to become the pillars of the mission. Samuel Johnson,
Laniyonu's colleague under Mrs. Hinderer's teaching from January
1858 and at Abeokuta, became the schoolmaster at Kudeti, catechist
at Oke Aremo, and the first ordained pastor placed in charge
of the church at Oyo from 1886. Johnson may be said to have
fulfilled the deep aspiration of the missionary couple in his
contribution to the attainment of peace in the war-torn country
from 1888. To this may be added his exploit in documenting for
future generations the history of the Yoruba nation, a venture
that also fulfilled the deep desire of Mr. Hinderer.
Robert Scott Oyebode became the schoolmaster at Aremo and was
ordained in January 1895.  He served creditably well as
a minister among his people in Ibadan. Francis Lowestoft Akielle,
the first boarder in Mrs. Hinderer's home, also became the schoolmaster
at Kudeti in 1869 and later married Ogunyomi.  From the
1890s he was assigned responsibility for the church at Ogbomoso
and was ordained in 1898 as a minister.  Apart from Samuel
Johnson who died an untimely death in April 1901, these contemporaries,
under Daniel Olubi, rooted and strengthened the faith in the
country in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, and
well into the early years of the twentieth. Hence, it may be
said that although not all the sprouts that came out of Mrs.
Hinderer's planting grew to fruition, those that did proved
that she did not labor in vain.
Mrs. Hinderer's memoirs were eventually published in 1870 after
the compilers, Miss Hone of Halesowen Rectory and her sister,
succeeded in persuading Mr. Hinderer to allow them to publish
her story. The first profit realized from the sale of the book
Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, amounting to £31.4.8,
was sent to Ibadan mission in July 1873 in support of the work
now under Mr. Daniel Olubi.  And so, although dead, Mrs.
Hinderer was still speaking.
1. R. B. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba
Country--Memorials of Anna Hinderer (London: Religious Tract
Society, 1872), 1-6. Although they did not sign the book, the
real compilers were two Hone sisters who were friends and acquaintances
of Mrs. Hinderer. Daniel
Olubi, journal entry, July 21, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/29.
4. Hone, 8-10.
5. Hone, 55.
6. Ajayi is of the view Olunloyo's commitment of his children
to the missionaries' care for training was consistent with Yoruba
tradition, which allows families to dedicate their children
to the divinities. In this case, he was handing over his children
to "an unknown God" the missionary couple might have come to
proclaim. J.F.A. Ajayi, Christian Missions in Nigeria 1841-1891-
The Making of a New Elite (London: Longmans, 1965).
7. Chief Emmanuel Alayande, interview in Ibadan in 2004. Yejide's
memory has been sustained by naming an Anglican secondary school
in Ibadan after her, Yejide Girls' Grammar School. Surprisingly,
however, I find Yejide's name hard to come by in Ibadan missionary
records; not even in Mrs. Hinderer's memoirs after the incident
of the first day she was given to the missionaries.
8. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, 69.
9. Hone, 67.
10. Hone, 123; J. T. Kefer was another Basel trained German
missionary from Wurtenberg. He was unmarried at the time of
11. In 1876, Samuel Johnson noted in his journal that the people
of Ibadan generally viewed Christians as "quiet people, averse
to fame and worldly honor." S. Johnson, journal entry, April
5, 1876, CMS C/A2/O58/6.
12. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, 81.
13. Hone, 99.
14. Hone, 85.
15. Hone, 138.
16. Hone, 292-294.
17. Hone, 188.
18. RH Hone, 104-106.
19. Hone, 124.
20. Hone, 179.
21. Hone, 275.
22. D. Hinderer to Secretaries, February 25, 1858, CMS C/A2/O49/32.
23. Hone, 302.
24. Hone, 117.
25. Hone, 196.
26. Hone, 71.
27. Hone, 178.
28. Hone, 184.
29. Hone, 120, 121.
30. Other occasions of baptism of children took place in 1860
and in 1861. On the latter occasion, five out of the eighteen
baptized were Mrs. Hinderer's charge. Hone, 128, 129, 223, 256.
31. Hone, 220.
32. Hone, 226, 227.
33. Hone, 223, 224.
34. Hone, 228.
36. Hone, 229.
37. Hone, 230.
38. Hone, 233.
39. Hone, 234.
40. Hone, 234, 235, 245.
42. Hone, 236, 237.
43. Hone, 255, 256.
44. Hone, 240.
45. Hone, 254, 255.
46. Hone, 256.
47. Mr. Hinderer wrote that relief materials of "cowries and
substantial provisions" were sent to Ibadan Mission through
Abeokuta, but the missionaries and their agents stopped their
onward transmission. According to him, they claimed that "no
carriers could be got for any load." D. Hinderer to H. Venn,
March 10, 1863, CMS C/A2/O49/61.
48. Hone, 276.
49. Hone, p. 283.
50. Hone, p. 284, 285.
51. Hone, p. 288.
52. Hone, p. 290.
53. Hone, p. 292.
54. Hone, p. 304.
55. Hone, 321.
56. Hone, 312.
57. Hone, 309-311.
58. Hone, 314, 315.
59. She left on January 5, 1869. D. Hinderer, Half Yearly Report
of Ibadan Mission Stations Ending June 25, 1869, CMS C/A2/O49/121.
60. Hone, 322.
61. I. Oluwole to F. Baylis, March 6, 1895, CMS G3/A2/O(1895)/57.
62. Hone, 327.
63. John Peel, "Two Pastors and their Histories--Samuel Johnson
and C.C. Reindorf," in The Recovery of the West African Past:
African Pastors and African History in the Nineteenth Century--C.
C. Reindorf and Samuel Johnson, ed. Paul Jenkins (Basel:
Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1998), 78-79.
64. Daniel Olubi, journal entry, July 21, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/29.
Archives of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), University
of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.
Hone, R. H. Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country--Memorials
of Anna Hinderer. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1872.
Johnson, Samuel, The History of the Yorubas--From the Earliest
Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate. Lagos:
Ajayi, J.F.A. Christian Missions in Nigeria 1841-1891--The
Making of a New Elite. London: Longmans, 1965.
Church Missionary Society, Register of Missionaries.
Peel, John. "Two Pastors and Their Histories, Samuel Johnson
and C.C. Reindorf." In The Recovery of the West African Past:
African Pastors and African History in the Nineteenth Century--C.C.
Reindorf and Samuel Johnson, ed. Paul Jenkins, 69-81. Basel:
Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1998.
Peel, John. Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba.
Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000.
Interview with Chief Emmanuel Alayande, Ibadan, January 2004.
[1*] Taken from Hone, R.B. Seventeen Years in the Yoruba
Country: Memorials of Anna Hinderer. London: The Religious
Tract Society, 1872.
[2*] Taken from The Church Mission Society and World Christianity,
1799-1999, eds. Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley. Grand Rapids:
William B. Eerdmans Publishing/Richmond (UK): Curzon Press,
2000. Used with permission from the Church Mission Society
This article, which was received in 2011, was
written and researched by Dr. Kehinde Olabimtan, Coordinator
of educational ministries, Good News Baptist Church and Adjunct
Teacher, Akrofi-Christaller Institute, Ghana, and a recipient
of the Project Luke Scholarship for 2010-2011.