Moses Ogunjide Fariike was born in 1853 at Ile Asosanyin, Otan Ayegbaju, in Boluwaduro Local Government Area (then Ibadan Division), Osun State, Nigeria. He was the second child of three and the only son. His elder sister was named Elizabeth Oke and his younger sister was Mary Fajawote.
Fariike’s parents were not Christians, but rather worshippers of the gods Ogun and Orunmila. According to the belief of his people, Fariike was destined to carry on the worship of Ogun, keeping it from dying out, as he was the only male child of Pa Fariike, the priest of Ogun. In addition to Ogun worship, the family also practiced the divination of Ifa, the Yoruba god of divination, by the aid of Osanyin, the tutelary divinity of Ifa.
Fariike began apprenticeship training as an Ifa priest with Pa Oke of Agbeduru compound early in life. After completing his apprenticeship, he became a proficient diviner in the neighboring towns and villages. When he was around thirty years old, he embarked on a divination tour that eventually took him to Ifako in Agege area of Lagos State. There, sometime in the 1890s, he met with a clergyman of the Church Missionary Society who brought him to salvation. After his conversion to Christianity, he was baptized with the name Moses.
Although he never attended formal school, Moses was taught to read the Bible in his native Yoruba language in Lagos. Around 1900 he returned to Otan Ayegbaju, his hometown, with a passionate desire to lead his kinsmen to his newfound faith. He went from house to house imploring people to give their lives to Jesus, and was fond of clapping his hands and singing the chorus, “Wa gba wa gba, wa gba Jesu saye re o, akiri s’oore,” which means, “Come and accept Jesus who goes about doing good.” Between 1900 and 1905 Moses succeeded in winning three converts to Christianity. They attended Sunday worship services at St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Obaagun, a town about ten kilometers away from Otan Ayegbaju.
Moses’ conversion offended his kinsmen and the people in his town, though, and he was severely persecuted for introducing a strange, hitherto-unknown god. On several occasions, the place where he taught the Bible to his converts during the week was cursed through the placement of calabashes (bowls) full of sacrifices, but the charms never hurt him. His persecutors then resorted to physical attacks. At Ita Eelokun a masquerade with several followers beat Moses and his converts with charmed canes and horse whips. Moses was forced out of town, and he went to explain his problem to a white missionary, Rev. John Mackay in Oshogbo. With Rev. Mackay’s support he returned to Otan Ayegbaju, and the baale (chief) was compelled to give him a piece of land for Christian worship. The baale gave him the Igbo oro Olukotun (the sacred grove of Olukotun god) believing that the spirit of Olukotun would not allow the faith to grow. However the plan backfired when the group settled into the grove without harm–a victory that brought in even more converts. Soon a church building was erected on the site of the grove, and in 1905 a primary school was built there.
As membership increased, Rev. Ayedun, an ordained Anglican minister, was sent to oversee the church, which was given the name St. Philip’s Anglican Church. Moses, who was given the title “evangelist,” traveled around the area, taking the gospel to the neighboring towns of Iresi, Igbajo, and Eripa.
Moses married Rachael Abeo, and they were blessed with five children before she died in 1934. He then took another wife, Mama Naomi. His children were said to cherish their father’s legacy of a strong family built on Biblical foundations. One of his children, Joseph Olabode Fariike, was an ordained Anglican minister, and many of his grandchildren are pillars in the church.
Moses Ogunjide Fariike died in 1951 at the age of ninety-eight.
Ayodele Adetayo Ajayi
Chief Nathaniel O. Alabi, son of Moses Ogunjide’s friend, age 78, interview by author, April 6, 2007, Agbeduru’s compound, Otan Ayegbaju, Boluwaduro Local Government Area, Osun State, Nigeria.
Emily Jojolola Fariike, daughter-in-law of Moses Ogunjide Fariike and Mama Ijo, or matron, of St. Philips Anglican Church, age 83, interview by author, April 6, 2007, Asosanyin compound, Otan Ayeggbaju, Boluwaduro Local Government Area, Osun State, Nigeria.
This article, received in 2008, was researched and written by Dr. Ayodele Adetayo Ajayi, Dean of Arts at the College of Education, Osiele, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator and president of Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary in Ogbomoso, Nigeria, a DACB participating institution.