Born of a Sierra Leonean father on May 29, 1875, Michael was one of the six children in his family. He attended Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone, and graduated with high marks as one of the greatest scholars of his time.
Until 1908, he was the vice principal of Lagos Grammar School. He left this position to become the first principal of the now famous Abeokuta Grammar School in July of 1908. The school operated in the rented showrooms of Mr. John Macaulay until December 21, 1910, when the foundation stone of the new school building was laid by Governor Egerton of Lagos. Cole was very influential and highly respected in the land as a scholar, teacher, preacher, and peacemaker. He mediated in the crisis that led to the Ijemo massacre of 1918. In March of 1913, he resigned the post of principal of Abeokuta Grammar School to become the first full time vicar of St. John’s Anglican Church, Igbein, Abeokuta. The new parish blossomed under his pioneering leadership. Between 1913 and 1920 he worked with zeal and vigor and his powerful sermons drew many to the church.
Seemingly destined for academic work, he left the parish at Igbein for Ile-Ife where he founded the now famous Oduduwa College in 1932. He was the pioneer principal of the school for ten years, from 1932 to 1942. He retired in 1942 and returned to Lagos. Even in retirement, he found time to preach in churches, and he also taught at the Lagos Grammar School. He died on December 10, 1946. He was a pastor, scholar, teacher, author, pioneer, peacemaker, and translator, having translated part of the Holy Bible from English to Yoruba.
Francis O. Falako
E. O. Idowu, and others, The History of St. John’s Anglican Church, Igbein, Abeokuta 1847-1998 (151 years). Abeokuta: The PCC Igbein, 1998.
This article, received in 2010, was written by Dr. Francis Falako, a professor in the Religious Education Unit of the School of Education in the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in Lagos, Nigeria.