Lafinhan, John Bamidele Prestun
John Bamidele Lafinhan was born in January 1920, in Igbajo, Osun State, to Rev. and Mrs. John Lafinhan. He had his primary education at the Baptist School, Igbajo between 1926 and 1933. Upon his graduation, he attended Government College, Ibadan for his secondary education until 1939. He received a government scholarship and in 1940 he went to study at Higher College Yaba, Lagos, where he received a diploma certificate in applied physics/surveying in 1943. He sat for the exam and received the London University intermediate science diploma in 1945 with a major in physics, geography, and mathematics.
Lafinhan married in 1948 and had several children. He went to the United Kingdom to pursue further studies in 1949 on a Nigerian Baptist Convention Scholarship. He obtained a bachelor of science degree majoring in physics and geography in 1952.
He had his first experience in the teaching profession as an assistant master at Ibadan Grammar School in 1944 and stayed in the position until 1946. Lafinhan then worked at Olivet Baptist High School (then known as Baptist Boys High School, Oyo) in 1947. While teaching, he was ordained as a Baptist deacon on October 11, 1953 at First Baptist Church located in Isokun, Oyo.
He served as the vice principal of the Baptist Academy in Lagos between 1954 and 1957 and was the master of the Yaba Technical Institute in Lagos in 1959. His work in the schools was important and left an impact. He proposed the name change from Baptist Boys High School, Oyo to Olivet Baptist High School, Olivet Heights, Oyo to the board of governors in 1961.
While he was busy with teaching and other civil services, Lafinhan pursued theological training at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by correspondence and qualified as a trained pastor. With this certification, First Baptist Church, Isokun, Oyo requested his ordination into a full ministerial service on January 17, 1969. He was ordained as a full Baptist Minister on October 15, 1972.
He retired as a principal in 1974. He became warden within the residence halls at the University of Ife (now called Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) between 1974 and 1982. He later became the chaplain of All Souls Chapel at the university in 1982. He moved to Ibadan in 1985 and continued his service at the Chapel of the Resurrection, University of Ibadan, in 1986.
He was the deputy director of the Centre for Applied Religion and Education (CARE) for a brief period, between January and August 1986. In 1991, he co-founded Graceland Baptist Church, Ibadan, and was their minister for the first two years. He never retired from service as a minister of the gospel and continued to serve until his death.
He had a deep love for music, gardening and sports. At various times in the 1940’s, he was the organist at First Baptist Church, Idikan, Ibadan, and First Baptist Church Isokun, Oyo. He was also the organist at Graceland Baptist Church. He was known to be a keen horticulturist, always ensuring that his dwelling place was ornamented with beautiful plants. He was a good sportsman and remained a Manchester United Football Club fan until death.
In recognition of his positive achievements in life, Lafinhan was given various awards by different interest groups in his lifetime. He was awarded the Administrative Staff Committee’s Commendation for efficient and Meritorious Services to the University of Ife, 1978/1979 Session, the Oyo State 1988 Merit Award for Educational Advancement, the Certificate of Honor for outstanding services rendered as a Principal by the All Nigeria Conference of principals of Secondary Schools (ANCPSS) on February 7, 1989 and the Government College Ibadan Old Boys Association’s 1991 Merit Award.
J. B. P. Lafinhan died and was buried in September, 1997.
P. A. Ojebode
J. B. P. Lafinhan Foundation, “Call to Glory,” Funeral and Thanksgiving Service at First Baptist Church, Isokun, Oyo and Olivet Baptist Church, September 6, 1997.
T. O. Ogundare (Deacon). Interview at Oyo, December 15, 2006.
This article, received in 2007, was researched and written by P. A. Ojebode, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.