Leader in the Aladura religious movement.
He was born into a Christian family in a small town in the Ilorin district of Nigeria. After attending school in Lagos he became a steam-roller driver for the highways department. One day in 1928 his roller stopped and he had a vision telling him to preach the Gospel. He returned home where he was thought to be mad and was imprisoned briefly. He eventually made his way back to Lagos, where he became associated with the Faith Tabernacle, an independent Yoroba church which had broken from the Anglican Church. During the 1930s he led a revival, which swept parts of Yorubaland, known as the Aladura movement. Although the movement involved no political protest, British officials feared its potential and put pressure on Nigerian chiefs to deny Babalola’s followers land grants. Babalola himself was jailed in 1932, charged with participating in a witch-eradication ordeal. He was released after six months, and remained prominent until his death.
Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen
Mitchell, Robert Cameron. “Religious Protest and Social Change: The Origins of the Aladura Movement in Western Nigeria.” In Protest and Power in Black Africa, eds. R. I. Rotberg and A. A. Mazrui, 458-96. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.
Peel, John D. Y. Aladura: A Religious Movement Among the Yoruba. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Dictionary of African Historical Biography, 2nd edition, copyright © 1986, by Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. All rights reserved.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (complete article): Aladura