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Abraham Osuam Osaele
1863 to 1956
Anglican
Nigeria

Abraham Osaele, Godwin Okeriaka's lieutenant, was a man of prayer and evangelism, with a strong faith and given to spirituality. He was accused of having infringed a certain divinity's taboo but his faith was so strong that he refused to appease the divinity even though he remained bedridden for twenty years. He was known to often say, "If I perish, I perish." He preferred to die rather than compromise even in trivial issues.

Abraham Osaele was from the Ikosa quarters of Emu Uno. He was a tall and handsome man with a calm disposition. It was said that he led a life of self-sacrifice even to the detriment of his household in order to benefit the church. He used his time and his food to cater to head teachers. He went from house to house compelling parents to send their children and wards to school. He was in charge of recruiting teachers and even trekked to Atamah in Akwa to secure one.

Abraham Osaele was a fiery preacher and the chorus leader. Osaele led evangelistic procession as they danced from one street to another. He often sang of the victory of Jesus Christ over the gods and divinities of the land. He campaigned strenuously against idolatry, witchcraft, magic, and other social vices. He condemned polygamy, the mmawu and awushi cults (awushi is similar to Igbe cult in Urhobo and Isoko lands), and the ukwata festival during which there are moral lapses. In all these he demonstrated the power of God over the forces of darkness.

Abraham emphasized and preached the power of God to heal and he practiced faith healing. Most of the people he prayed for were reported healed. For this reason, when he was bedridden for twenty years because of a stroke, the non-Christians mocked him saying, "Healer, heal yourself." But his faith in God sustained him and after twenty years he was miraculously healed.

He was also patriotic. To him religion and society are inseparable. The one must promote the other. On one occasion he was said to have found an Abbi man who had lost his way in the forest. Rather than behead him, as was customary, to obtain an honour as a great man, he brought the man to Emu and helped him find his way home. This surprised the people as being quite unusual.

His eldest son, Chukwuka Osuam Osaele, put Abraham Osaele's death at about 1956 at the age of ninety-three, five years after his recovery from the twenty years ailment. The Okpara Uku said of Mr. Abraham Osuam Osaele, "[He] had abilities far surpassing any I have met before and he appeared to be truly pious. He was a man of uncommon abilities, steady in conduct and an indefatigable evangelist."

Such was the life of a man who superintended the building of the first church in the Emu clan at Ogbe Ndiom. He and Godwin Okeriaka often traveled weekly to Amai, Uzionum, Abraka, Abbi, and other places to attend church meetings and to receive instructions on the faith.

In addition to being a man of prayer and healing Abraham Osaele was also a man of praises. The Okpara Uku had so much confidence in him that both he and his council of Onotu could vividly recall one of the songs sung by Abraham Osuam Osaele.

Jaya mrna, Jaya mrna, Jaya mrna ofunni
Jesus Jaya mrna

Praise him, praise him, praise him who ever sees
Jesus should praise him.

Jones Ugochukwu Odili


Selected Bibliography:

Primary Sources (personal interviews)

Abandi, Gloria, age 45, farmer, interview in Obodeti on 15-06-02.
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Agbadaba, Paul, age 76, Ndichie priest, interview in Obodeti on 5-01-02.
Amaweh, John, age 75, farmer, interview in Obodeti on 9-01-02.
Agwamm, Johnson, age 86, retired civil servant, interview in Emu Uno on 14-07-02.
Ayanbine, Benedict O., age 76, retired teacher, interview in Emu Uno on 8-08-02.
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Idu, John, age 66, lay leader, interview in Obodeti on 01-06-02.
Idu, Rudolf, age 28, civil servant, interview in Obodeti on 12-06-02.
Igor, Godwin, age 42, clergy, interview in Emu Uno on 16-04-02.
Igwala, Andrew, age 72, farmer, interview in Emu Uno on 30-06-02.
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Izege, Beatrice, age 68, priestess, interview in Emu Uno on 7-02-02.
Johnson, Diabiagu, age 45, farmer, interview in Emu Uno on 17-02-02.
Kpolokpolo, Diana, age 93, trader, interview in Obodeti on 18-01-02.
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Maledo, Comfort, age 48, trader, interview in Emu Uno on 13-07-02.
Maledo, John, age 43, civil servant, interview in Emu Uno on 15-07-02.
Maledo, Richard, age 30, civil servant, interview in Emu Uno on 13-07-02.
Nwafiri, Steven, age 32, catechist, interview in Obodeti on 11-06-02.
Ochonogor, Andrew, age 75, retired teacher, interview in Emu Uno on 4-04-02.
Ochonogor, Angelina, age 47, trader, interview in Emu Uno on 06-06-02.
Ogbom, Idiagbon Y., age 82, clergy, interview in Obodeti on 12-04-02.
Ojuma, Chukwu, age 110, Ada, interview in Obodeti on 06-01-02.
Okolie, Samue, age l38, catechist, interview in Emu Uno on 28-07-02.
Okoligwe, Anamali, age 44, trader, interview in Emu Uno on 26-07-02.
Okoligwe, Enuknekwu G., age 63, retired teacher, interview in Emu Uno on 26-07-02.
Okongi, Mathew, age 58, catechist, interview in Iyasele on 28-06-02.
Okoro, Celina, age 50, trader, interview in Ebendo on 07-07-02.
Okorocha, Johnson A., age 96, clergy, interview in Ebendo on 08-06-02.
Okoyoku, Paul, age 57, clergy, interview in Ebendo on 08-06-02.
Okuegbe, Akpogbue P., age 63, retired teacher, interview in Emu Uno on 13-06-02.
Omesa, Mary, age 83, Egine, interview in Emu Uno on 13-02-02.
Omoso, John, age 54, farmer, interview in Ebendo on 07-06-02.
Omojo, Comfort, age 38, trader, interview in Obiogo on 19-07-02.
Onyefuniaga, Osa, age 92, Okwa, interview in Obodeti on 03-03-02.
Osabiku, Andrew, age 56, retired teacher, interview in Emu Uno on 15-07-02.
Osademe, Mathew, age 52, clergy, interview in Emu Uno on 19-07-02.
Osaele, Osuam Chukwuka, age 65, farmer, interview in Emu Uno on 23-07-02.
Osaele, Osuam, Innocent, age 45, farmer, interview in Emu Uno on 23-03-02.
Osifigbhor, Grace, age 70, retired teacher, interview in Obodeti on 24-03-02.
Owete, Okobi E., age 89, farmer, interview in Emu Uno on 24-03-02.
Patrick, Nwaesunaka, age 58, farmer, interview in Obiogo on 20-07-02.


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Journal Articles

Adogbo, M. P. "The Search for the Biblical Satan in Urhobo Traditional Religion." The Nigerian Journal of Theology 17 (June 2003). Pp.27-38.
Ajayi, J. F. A. "Bishop Crowther: An Assessment," Odu (1968). Pp.3-19.
Ajayi, W. O. "Aspect of Protestant Missionary Work in Northern Nigeria" Odu 3:1 (July, 1966). Pp.41-55.
Akama, E. S. "The Initial Growth and Problems of the Pioneering Mission Churches in Isokoland of Nigeria (1914-1944)" Journal of Religon, and Culture (2002). Pp.7-23.
Aiman, Jean. "Making Mothers Missionaries, Medical Officers and Women's Work in Colonial Asante, 1924-1945" History Workshop Journal 38 (1994). Pp.23-47.
Ayandele, E. A. "The Missionary Factor and Northern Nigeria, 1879-1918." Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 3:3 (Dec. 1966). Pp.503-522.
Bevans, S. "Doing Theology in North America: A Contextual Model." The Gospel and Our Culture. Holland Western Theological Seminary (1993). Pp.43-67.
Danmole, H. O. "The Crescent and the Cross in the Frontier Emirate: Ilorin in the 19th century." Orita Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies xvii: 1. (June, 1985). Pp.23-36.
Fisher, H. "Conversion Reconsidered: Some Historical Aspects of Historical Conversion in Black Africa." Africa 43 (1974). Pp.128-152.
Haney, M. S. "Issues of Contextualization: Christians and Muslims" Studies in World Christianity 3:2 (1997). Pp.154-179.
Horton, R. "African Conversion" Africa 41 (1971). Pp.85-108.
Ifemesia, C. C. "The Civilizing Mission of 1841." Journal of Historical Society of Nigeria 2:3 (1962). Pp.138-157.
Ikenga-Metuh, E. "Religious Concepts in West Africa Cosmogonies." Journal of Religion in Africa xxxii: 1 (1982). Pp.11-24.
Kenny, J. "Religious Movements in Nigeria: Divisive or Cohesive? Some Interpretative Models." Orita Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies, xvi: 2 (Dec 1984). Pp.111-128.
Kolapo, F. "CMS Missionaries of African Origin and Extra-Religious Encounter at the Niger-Benue Confluence, 1858-1880." African Studies Review (Sept 2000). Pp.87-115.
Liu, William and Beatrice Leung. "Organisational Revivalism: Explaining the Metamorphosis of China's Catholic Church." Journal of Scientific Study of Religion 4:1 (2002). Pp.121-138.
Mills, J. O. Commentary. New Blackriars[sic] (Jan. 1984). Pp.1-5.
Onaiyekan, J. "What We Saw and Heard at the African Synod." Bulletin of Ecumenical Theology 6:2 (1994). Pp.1-12.
Raheb, M. "Contextualizing the Scriptures: Towards a New Understanding of the Quran--an Arab-Christian Perspective." Studies in World Christianity 3:2 (1997). Pp.180-201.
Schlorff, S. P. "Muslim and Christian Apologetic." Missiology: An International Review (April 1993). Pp.289-301.
Strayer, R. "Mission History in Africa: New Perspectives on an Encounter." African Studies Review 19:1 (1976). Pp.1-15.
Thomas, S. "Transforming the Gospel of Domesticity: Luhya Girls and Friends African Mission, 1917-1926." African Studies Review 4:2 (Sept. 2000). Pp.1-27.
Turner, P. "The Wisdom of the Fathers and the Gospel of Christ: Some Notes on Christian Adoption in Africa." Journal of Religion in Africa iv: 1 (1974). Pp.45-68.
Wilson, F. R. "The San Antonio Report: Your Will Be Done--Mission in Christ's Way." WCC Publications, 1990.

This story, received in 2003, was reprinted with permission from "The Role of Indigenous Agents in the Advent and Growth of the Anglican Church in Emu Clan of Delta State 1911 - 2002," a Masters thesis (Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria) by Mr. Jones Ugochukwu Odili.