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David Orotosho Orojimi
1886 to 2006
Nigerian Baptist Convention
Nigeria

David Orotosho Orojimi was an evangelist instrumental to the founding of Nigerian Baptist Convention churches in Ilorin and the surrounding areas. He was born in 1886 in Awe, Afijio Local Government Area, Oyo State, Nigeria. His father was Orodina Orojimi and his mother was Olanihun Asabi Orojimi. Orojimi's father worshiped Oro, an idol worshiped only by men. [1] He was an Eleti Akoko (first Eleti) of the town of Awe, and as such, performed rituals, particularly those that have to do with the dead. Orojimi's mother worshipped Sango, a Yoruba god of thunder and lightning, and was known as the Iya Sango (mother Sango) of the towns of Awe and Oyo.

Orojimi did not go to school, but spent his early years on the farm with his father. In 1927 he became a carpenter's apprentice under a man named Adeyinka, of Laka House in Awe. There Orojimi became a Christian in 1927, and was baptized in 1929 at First Baptist Church, Awe, by Rev. Babalola Aderinto. Orojimi's apprenticeship ended in 1931, and he left Awe for Ilorin in 1936, having visited the city several times while driving trucks before learning carpentry.

Ministry

When Orojimi moved, at first he attended the Anglican church in Ilorin, as there was no Baptist church there. He was uncomfortable with Anglican worship, though, and missed Baptist theology. Soon he met an older neighbor named Daniel Adeniran Adesipo, who was also from Awe--at that time, many people from Awe settled on Gambari Street in Ilorin. In 1936 Orojimi started a gathering, mostly of people from Awe, that met on Sundays. During one of these meetings, Orojimi said that he knew many Baptists from Ogbomoso who lived in Ilorin, and he wanted them to join the class. Pa Adesipo then suggested that Orojimi, being the youngest in the class and enthusiastic about evangelism, be given a bicycle so that he could go around inviting people to attend.

When many who were invited started to attend, the class grew to a full-fledged worship service. The group's first attempt to hold a service was at Ita Ogunbo, an open place in Gambari. However this service was interrupted by a group of Muslims who dispersed the group with horsewhips. Orojimi again visited all the members of the class and encouraged them to meet at Adesipo's home the following Sunday.

The first service was held on March 12, 1936. Services continued at Adesipo's home until the church approached the emir of Ilorin, Shehu Abdulkadir, in 1939, to buy property for a church building. The emir took them to the district officer, a white man called "eebo D. O.," and they were given a plot in the bush far from town. The group was told they could build a church only if they did not worship openly and evangelize in Ilorin. They accepted and the plot was called Surulere (patience has its reward). The foundation of the Ilorin Baptist Church, later renamed the First Baptist Church Ilorin, was laid on October 31, 1940, and the building was completed in 1941. When the congregation grew too large for the original building, a new church was built, and then again in 1970 a new building was erected. Orojimi used his carpentry skills to build the roofs for all three of these buildings. Orojimi was a member of the first pastor's search committee that called Pastor Akanni from Ede to the church.

Orojimi loved evangelism and was instrumental to the founding of several churches. In January 1966 he was involved in the establishment of the Second Baptist Church, Sabo-Oke that was later renamed the Emmanuel Baptist Church Ilorin. Orojimi built their first place of fellowship with roofing sheets.

He was one of the founders of the Babanloma Church and later established a church in Lanwa Keji--a church he led for many years despite numerous challenges, often trekking twelve kilometers from Babanloma to Lanwa Keji to lead services. He put a roof on the building and gave the church its bell, which was used to call people to worship.

Orojimi also planted a church in Okuta Ila after discovering the need for evangelism in that area. He met stiff opposition there from people of other faiths, who wanted to kill him, but God did not allow this happen, and the church is still there today (2008). Years later Orojimi also helped to start Ayo Bello Memorial Baptist Church, founded on October 25, 1998.

His evangelism ministry took him to Molete, a village near Ilorin, where Christian government workers of various denominations were without a church. He went to Molete and encouraged the Christians to unify in Christ Jesus and to form a church regardless of denomination. When the church began to grow traditional religionists and local Muslims felt threatened by the church and put pressure on the government to transfer the congregants to different locations in order to frustrate the efforts of the church. Although a large percentage was transferred to desolate areas, the people held onto their faith and built a worship center with a roof laid by Orojimi.

Orojimi was loved by his neighbors on Gambari Street and built many of their roofs. In appreciation for all his years of service, his Muslim landlord did not ask for rent from Orojimi for over forty years. A Muslim family also prepared his breakfasts for years before his death. When Orojimi died on May 7, 2006, the Muslim leader on his street requested that the wake be held in front of his house in order to honor the man who had served his community faithfully and selflessly. The wake was held on June 2, 2006. Orojimi died at the age of 120.

Afuye Adubi Olufemi


Notes:

1. Oro is an idol that moves at night. When the Oro is out, women are not allowed to leave their homes, since it is believed that no woman can see Oro and live.
Sources:

Fakorede, Timothy Fajimi. Interview by the author. November 2006.
Orojimi, Orosesan. Interview by the author. November 2006.
Oguntunde, Isaac . Interview by the author. November 2006.

This article, received in 2008, was researched and written by Rev. Olufemi Adubi Afuye, a student at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.