Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Olubi, Daniel (B)

Anglican Communion (Church Missionary Society)

Daniel Olubi

An Egba convert to Christianity who led the CMS Ibadan mission through its difficult years of privation, Daniel Olubi was born in the midst of the political upheavals that troubled the Yoruba country for much of the nineteenth century. A bridge-builder in the recurring feuds between his people and Ibadan, he provided the compass for his vulnerable faith community in a town where martial valor was the ultimate virtue and social violence was always a present reality. If Olubi’s life mirrored the suffering and redemption of his people through the vicissitudes of the times, he was no less susceptible to the danger the unstable political environment posed to the elites and the commoners in the country.

A Violent Prelude

In the throes of the wars that brought about the dissolution of the old, savannah kingdom of Ọyọ in the second decade of the nineteenth century, the scattered settlements of the Egba people to the south came under the attack of a roving band of warriors. This coalition force of Ọyọ, Ife and Ijebu peoples had earlier destroyed Owu, Egbas’ friendly neighbors to the east, before turning on this loose federation in the rain forest. From 1825 they plundered and destroyed, one after the other, their undefended villages and settlements and sold out their victims in the transatlantic slave trade. [1] The survivors of this holocaust [2] fled westward and settled in 1830 at a naturally defended fortress they named Abeokuta, literally meaning “Under the Rock.” There, a few months after the founding of the new settlement, Daniel Olubi was born. In the religious tradition of the country, which required that a child be dedicated to one of the divinities as prescribed by a priest, he was committed at birth to the service of the Obatala cult.

While the destruction of the Egba settlements was going on, the process of their redemption was also unfolding in the activities of the British antislavery movement. The movement had, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, pushed for the establishment of Sierra Leone as the land of freedom for those who had been illegally torn from their homes and peoples. From 1839, some of the Egba liberated slaves who had consequently been disembarked in Sierra Leone began to return to the country of their birth. These returnees brought with them to Abeokuta Christianity and pleaded with their European missionary benefactors to send their agents to their country. In response, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) began work in the fledgling town in 1846 and made good progress in a short time. Two years after the mission began, Olubi was converted during the street preaching of Rev. J. C. Müller. The circumstances that led to it were providential.

As a young and rising devotee of Yoruba religion, Olubi hated the presence of missionaries who went about the streets of Abeokuta preaching another faith. He was particularly indignant against Mr. Müller’s street preaching and nursed the thought to kill him if he ventured to preach at his doorstep. On the day the preacher came to preach under a tree in front of his house, he was lying helplessly on his mat having sustained an injury in the neck. His situation forced him to listen to the preacher, and at length the message made sense to him. He wrote that, following this experience, “Through God’s great mercy and love, I was permitted to believe in that wonderful Saviour & to lay hold on eternal life.” [3]

Prior to his conversion experience he came into active service in the Obatala cult, in 1842, under the priesthood of his cousin Otunbaloku. [4] He, moreover, assisted his mother in her priestly services to Igun divinity whose symbols were the cowries and water. In his words, “I was her greatest helper from the earliest I can remember. Like Samuel, I was called early to the service of the temple.” [5] His conversion therefore caused his mother pain, which she would not bear in silence; rather, she opposed her son in vehement persecution. But at the interposition of Olubi’s relations- his step father, Josiah Laoye; his cousin, Otunbaloku; and his uncle, Chief Ogunbona of Ikija– she stopped her opposition. [6] Happily for the young convert, his mother also soon embraced the Christian faith and did away with her traditional religious icons.

In the same year of his conversion, 1848, Rev. J. C. Müller baptized Olubi at the Ake Church. [7] The future church leader also attended the school at Ake while under the care of his uncle Chief Ogunbona who, according to him, nurtured him “tenderly & carefully…with much prayer and earnestness.” [8] But the developments in the vocation of another missionary entering the field soon altered Olubi’s future, directing it towards prospects that lay outside Abeokuta.

Rev. David Hinderer came to Abeokuta in 1849. [9] The Basel-trained CMS missionary had been unsuccessful in the initial plan to learn Hausa at Badagry, on the coast, in preparation for a mission to the Muslims across the Niger. While Mr. Hinderer was starting the work at Oṣiẹllẹ, near Abeokuta, Chief Ogunbona gave Olubi over to him as a house servant. [10] The twenty years that followed in the household of the Hinderers furnished him the practical education that prepared him for the Christian ministry. When Mr. Hinderer was to start Ibadan Mission in 1853 with his newly wedded wife, Anna Hinderer, and his appointed assistant, J. T. Kefer, [11] Olubi moved with them to their new sphere of service.

Moving to Ibadan

Rev. Hinderer had proceeded to Ibadan with a schoolmaster in the usual tradition of beginning mission with the cultivation of the people in literacy skills. But a few months after beginning the work he felt the need for more preachers in the streets of Ibadan. The Finance Committee at Abeokuta could not spare him an additional hand. The option given to him was to exchange his schoolmaster for an evangelist. Hinderer did that, and Olubi filled the resultant vacancy for a schoolmaster at the station in December 1853. [12] It was his first appointment in the service of the CMS, but he voluntarily continued to render the services on the domestic front for the missionary couple. This resourcefulness became more evident with years and proved decisive for advancing the work of the mission after the exit of the Hinderers.

Mid-nineteenth century Yoruba country was fraught with mutual jealousies between the ruling elites, the warlords, and the towns. Hinderer got the information in 1855 from travelers in the country that the Alafin was “very much hurt” that white people took residence in many towns in his country, but they seemed to avoid him and his town. In view of the missionary expansion he was planning for the country, Hinderer saw the need to first address the feelings of the Ọyọ monarch before venturing to occupy any town tributary to him. To this end, he visited Ọyọ in January 1856 to arrange matters with Alafin Atiba. Following the king’s generous provision, the church in Ọyọ came into existence. Hinderer left in Ọyọ a Christian visitor who was then with him at Ibadan, Hardesty, to begin the work. [13] Hardesty was soon relieved by Olubi who, to the satisfaction of his master, managed the new station for ten weeks, until May 1856. [14] Hinderer withdrew the Egba agent for George Williams, the substantive person appointed for the town by the Finance Committee of the Yoruba mission. [15]

Shortly after Olubi’s return to Ibadan, as the Hinderers were preparing to return to England to recuperate their health, it became known to the missionary couple that a romantic feeling was brewing under their roof. Their committed servant and agent and Mrs. Hinderer’s housemaid, Sussana, were dreaming of conjugal bliss. Sussana was a daughter of a Christian woman in Abeokuta who gave her over to Mr. Hinderer when he was there for three years. She was taken into the home of the missionary couple when Mrs. Hinderer joined her husband in the field in 1852, and she relocated with them to Ibadan the following year. [16] In view of Mr. and Mrs. Hinderer’s plan to be away for about a year, the intending couple decided to inform their benefactors. In her journal of June 19, 1856, Anna Hinderer noted: “It has come out to-day that Olubi and Sussana have fallen in love with each other, and wish to be married before we leave. So here is another iron in the fire, but one that gives us real satisfaction. I must now prepare for the bride’s outfit.” [17]

The Ijaye War Years

Olubi and his wife remained at their post at Kudeti until the missionary couple returned on January 9, 1858, having been away for eighteen months. [18] It was a bigger mission family still on their return as they recruited more hands from Sierra Leone towards the expansion of the work. Moreover, Olubi and Sussana welcomed them with their son, Daniel, who also became part of Mrs. Hinderer’s crèche and nursery. Barely two years after their return, the prospect of an expanding mission and children work disappeared as war broke out between Ibadan and Ijaye in January 1860, and Olubi’s people at Abeokuta openly joined in the fray against Ibadan.

The situation put Ibadan mission and its members, especially Egba elements like Olubi, in grave danger. Soon, the agents there who were connected with the Egba were told by their kinsmen and women at Abeokuta to leave the town or, at the least, send their wives and children down; otherwise they would be guilty of a great sin. The predicament of Olubi in the midst of this confusion can only be appreciated from the pen of his master who wrote, “We don’t know what it all means, but it seems that their friends in Abeokuta predict no good for this place.” It was even widely believed in Ibadan that Egba people were encouraging the Ijebu and “interior tribes” to rise against them in the approaching dry season of late 1860. [19]

But the most delicate issue at hand for Ibadan mission was how to keep its members from being sucked into the sentiments fuelling the war. Restraining the Egba hands in the mission was the first challenge that confronted Mr. Hinderer. He reported that “there is a bad anti Yoruba party spirit among them, which I am sorry to say, makes them very apathetic in their work, & to keep them from doing actual damage to the cause of the mission here was all I could do for several months past.” [20] Their indiscretion nearly scandalized the mission as Hinderer wrote,

There has been actual danger of some of our people being caught & punished for communications to the coastward treacherous to the cause of Ibadan, but we discovered it in time to avert it. It is indeed no easy task at this time to stear [sic] our little missionary barque clear of the rocks, & never did I feel so much the need of counsel with other experienced missionary brethren, as at this time. [21]

With its sheer weight of human population, Ibadan triumphed in the war in 1862; but that did not bring it to an end. Rather, in the political complications that followed, it moved from one sector of the country to another, leaving Ibadan shut in and the mission family destitute. It is not clear what Olubi’s role or position was, but nothing in Mr. Hinderer’s or his wife’s record indicates that they ever doubted the loyalty of this Egba agent. And if Olubi’s later roles as the successor to the European missionary couple in Ibadan mission and as a bridge-builder between Abeokuta and Ibadan missions are pointers to a consistent character, it can be said that he was able to keep his head throughout the crisis.

A Budding Leader

Ultimately, the Ijaye war period and the years of privation that followed in the 1860s were Olubi’s seasoning process for the leadership of Ibadan mission. But a character trait that would prove decisive for his success had been unfolding over the years; in fact, it had been at work since he joined the Hinderers’ household in 1849. Apart from his diligence, which was evident no sooner than he joined his master, he was at ease in making friends. This comes to light from his documented encounter with Ijebu traders who were neighbors of the mission at Kudeti.

In 1867, Olubi scheduled regular Sunday morning preaching engagement in their quarter. These bellicose traders argued and opposed Olubi, and vehemently professed their preference for the Portuguese over and against the British colonial regime in Lagos. This was coupled with their opposition to Christianity, the perceived religion of the anti-slavery government. In spite of this reality, Olubi cultivated their friendship. The very few Ijebu converts in Ibadan who later acceded to the church at Kudeti might have come from the rank of these people Olubi patiently engaged in dialogue in his street preaching. [22] Few as they were, it was a great feat among these proud people before the destruction of their cultural center at Ijebu Ode in 1892. [23] Among them was David Ọṣi, who was an elder at Kudeti [24] and would later restart the work at Ogbomoso in 1876. This ability to turn foes into friends was the gift Olubi was cultivating in Ibadan mission. If it worked for him imperceptibly during his brief stint at Ọyọ and at Isalẹ Ijebu in Ibadan, the new assignment he would be taking up shortly would bring it out noticeably.

To strengthen the work in Ibadan and to make participation in church life effective for his converts who shuttled from great distance to Kudeti station, Hinderer proposed two satellite churches strategically located in Ibadan. To the east he planted a church at Oke Aremo, and in the west he located a new congregation at Oke Ogunpa. The Aremo church thrived in no time, but Ogunpa proved to be a hard ground that made Hinderer wonder if a sinister force was not at work there. He was contemplating closing it down when Chief Aiyejenku (a.k.a. Fọkọ) pleaded with him to retain it. [25]

Mr. Hinderer decided to give the station a lifeline by sending Olubi there. On March 9, 1868, Hinderer withdrew Mr. W. S. Allen who had been working there for eight years and brought him back to Kudeti. Olubi took up responsibility for the place immediately and moved his family there. [26] Of this move, Hinderer wrote, “We could not have parted with a right hand, as Mr. Olubi & his wife naturally had become to us, but for the thought that perhaps by this change dead Oke Ogunpa may revive.” [27] And dead Oke Ogunpa did revive.

Olubi did all that his predecessors at the station did: led worship services, rebuilt the chapel, visited members and preached in the streets. But he did more, because he understood the orientation of the people. It was not enough to relate formally with those outside the church; the language they understood was friendship and intimacy. This was one of the first things he expressed to them on taking up responsibility for the church.

When Bola, the headman of the district, [28] was going to the war at Ilesha, he assigned the care of the place to some of the elders there. Olubi held a meeting with these elders and respectfully challenged their indifference to the presence and message of the church since it was established among them. They gave their excuses, but he tactfully demolished them. He then invited them to church worship and presented them a small gift of honey. [29] Yoruba people love receiving gift, and Olubi’s gesture in this instance is positively symbolic.

Subsequently, attendance at his street preaching and Sunday services improved significantly. Many–young and old, male and female, ordinary folks and diviners–stopped to listen and entered the chapel for the first time. They paid serious attention to what they heard and commended the new doctrines. [30] Soon Olubi could write, “Throughout this week my house never was without some 40, 60-100 visitors who only come to see a few pictures on my walls and other pictures through a glass & the sounds of my harmonium. Thus I have everyday people to tell the ‘Mysteries of Godliness’” [31]

Although he has succeeded in softening the frosty attitude of the people towards the church, Olubi had not seen hearty commitment to the faith. On an occasion when he had a long conversation with his neighbors, they told him: “We like & prefer your ways, your conduct & manner of living for which you shall ever see us coming to your house-but with regard to forsaking our so-called old ways, born in with our forefathers [sic] you cannot find one of this Oke Ogunpa people that will embrace your religion.” [32] Olubi suspected a conspiracy, but they were only expressing what they perceived as reality. To them, the religious, moral, and ethical gulfs between Christianity and their ways were so wide that they couldn’t imagine anyone in their district embracing Christianity. Logically, it was too convenient and juicy to remain an active part of a society like mid-nineteenth century Ibadan that had few restraints than to embrace a comparatively austere religion like Christianity. In their reckoning, there was simply no motivation to embrace such lifestyle. [33]

The process that led to Olubi’s eventual breakthrough began to unfold in January 1869 when Bola was invalided home from the battlefield. The district chief was in pain and could not sleep. Seeing him in distress, Olubi sent him a mattress for better comfort than what the local mat could afford him. In no time, he slept off. “When he awoke he said to those around him, Eyi ko to yi ni lokan pada bayi? [I]s this not enough to change one’s heart? I lay so easy on my side and felt no pain, & I did enjoy my sleep….” It was the moment Olubi had been waiting for. He used the opportunity to urge him towards embracing Christianity and to allow his people to do so, since they all indicated that he was their restraint. Although Bola promised to send a girl from his household to school, Olubi did not set much value on his promise. [34]

Three months after, when he had fully recovered from his illness, Bola publicly made good his promise. He went to Olubi’s house with some of his neighbors and told him, “now we come to talk out what is in our mind, only it must not be in your house nor yet in mine, but it must be in God’s house, so that whoever says any hypocritical word, then let God, in whose house we meet, be the witness.” [35] He thereafter requested Olubi to assemble his companions and church elders for the meeting they had agreed to hold. Olubi wrote that, at the meeting,

We knelt down & prayed for blessings from on high to all [that] shall be said. Long conversations ensued…the result of the happy meeting…[was the pledge] that they, their neighbors & friends [“]will always come to listen to your instructions from the word of God, & whoever among us that can be found & whose heart God will change, we promise that he will never be troubled or opposed. God be the witness.[”][36]

This meeting was a turning point in the life of the church at Ogunpa as converts gradually accrued to it from among the residents of the neighborhood. Today St. James Cathedral, Oke Bola, has taken the name of Olubi’s Egba compatriot James Okuseinde who took over from him and was later succeeded by his own son with the same name. Meanwhile, Olubi’s achievement in his eighteen-month assignment there was but a sign of things to come. Time was running out for the missionary couple in Ibadan, and who could step into their big shoes if not their loyal and tested agent who had “served Mr. Hinderer with fidelity and affection?” [37]

Leading Ibadan Mission

In 1868, the Hinderers reconciled themselves with the reality that their health, especially Mrs. Hinderer’s, had become materially damaged. It would not be possible for them to remain in the country much longer. Consequently Mrs. Hinderer left Ibadan on January 5, 1869. [38] Mr. Hinderer left seven months later, effectively bringing their service in the country to a close after twenty years. [39] This exit must be placed in context as it reveals the quandary in which Olubi, no doubt, must have found himself, having been entrusted with the leadership of the mission.

As part of their revolt against European presence in the country, which was expressed in the destruction of the churches in Abeokuta in 1867, Egba authorities and their Ijebu counterparts forbade the presence of foreign missionaries in the country. Egba people were reacting against the policies of the colonial authorities in Lagos, which they considered unfavorable to their interests. Ijebu people ached from the English men’s supposed cruelty in forbidding the most lucrative commodity they had to offer the world: the slaves Ibadan warriors often harvested from their predatory wars in the country. [40] Only the Hinderers in Ibadan remained in the country for another two years after the destruction at Abeokuta, hence their carefully crafted exits by the governor when their health failed. [41]

With the exit of the Hinderers and the return of Olubi from Ogunpa to Kudeti station, the available hands in the mission occupied the places to which Mr. Hinderer assigned them. W. S. Allen, possibly the eldest, was given the charge of the congregation at Oke Aremo. Olubi’s compatriot James Okuseinde was assigned responsibility for Oke Ogunpa. [42] The latter was a former slave raider who became a Christian, like Olubi, in the early days of Yoruba mission at Abeokuta. He too came with the Hinderers to Ibadan in 1853, but to keep their horses. Another hand in the mission at this time was Samuel Johnson, the schoolmaster at Kudeti and later a historian of the Yoruba. Robert Scott Oyebode and Francis Lowestoft Akielle were assisting at the schools.

Repairing a Breach

Although he was a catechist [43] at the final exit of the Hinderers, this was not Olubi’s first opportunity as the leader of Ibadan mission in their absence. Four years earlier, when the missionary couple were away in England, he did it and proved himself capable on the job. Now, with no prospect of his much-respected master returning to Ibadan, Olubi must bring to bear on the work of the vulnerable mission all his gifts and learning in human management. The twenty five years that followed tasked him, but he safely brought the mission through the unsavory environment of the country.

Among the matters he addressed first was the sour relationship between his kinsmen and women in the churches at Abeokuta and his flock in Ibadan. This was at the instance of his senior colleague and returnee from Sierra Leone, Rev. William Moore. The minister regularly visited Ibadan from his base at Oṣiẹllẹ, near Abeokuta, to administer the sacrament to the communicants. On one of his trips, he urged Ibadan Christians to seek peace with their Egba counterparts and repair the breach the Ijaye war created between them. In January 1870, barely four months after assuming the leadership of the mission, Olubi and Mr. Allen visited Abeokuta to present the message of peace from Ibadan Christians. At a meeting where elders of the three churches at Abeokuta–Ake, Ikija, and Igbore–gathered, peace was extended and received between Egba and Ibadan Christians. The two representatives of Ibadan mission returned home loaded with gifts for themselves and for the mission. [44]

This attainment of unity yielded Ibadan more dividends. Almost two years later, the churches were in dire need of funds to settle the debt incurred in repairing Kudeti church as well as more funds to repair the dilapidated structure at Aremo. Olubi facilitated these funds in a trip that took him to Oṣiẹllẹ, Abeokuta, and Lagos where the churches responded generously to the need of Ibadan mission. [45] With Olubi’s identity overlapping with the two missions, the mutual goodwill continued into the years following. [46]

Repositioning the Mission

On the home front, Olubi’s strategy was to intensify what his missionary mentor had been doing over the years, that is cultivating the friendship of Ibadan chiefs. By gifts, Yoruba courtesies, humor, and effective use of the simple but more developed material culture available to the mission, Olubi proved acceptable to friends and foes alike. And he used this as a leverage to advance the interests of Ibadan mission and its members.

When, in August 1870, it became clear that the Asipa, a major title holder in Ibadan, was going to be installed into the highest civil office as the Bãlẹ, that is Mayor, Olubi and his two more elderly companions, Allen and Okuseinde, visited him. From the subjects of their discussion, it was clear that their aim was to make things smooth for the mission ahead of his assuming office. They educated him on the object and character of their mission. And they indicated that they would want the old privilege of direct communication with his office to be sustained. Happily for them, this modest chief fully agreed with their values and intentions and promised to both advance and defend their cause. [47]

For the first time in the relationship between Ibadan state and the mission, Asipa specifically requested the presence of the CMS agents at his coronation on September 30, 1870. They honored the invitation after which they exchanged gifts. Olubi led the mission to present him the finest of the “wire chairs” Mr. Hinderer had reserved for such occasions as this. [48] In the days following the coronation they paid visits to other new title holders in town to congratulate them and offer their goodwill. [49] But a special visit was reserved for Bãlẹ on November 11, and Olubi gave a full account of the event which revealed his own mindset on the relationship between church and state.

The new Bãlẹ had requested this visit and it was honored by all the agents and members of the three churches. Those who could read came with their Psalms, prayer and hymn books. Their big harmonium was in full glare along with Mr. Allen’s “music box” (guitar?). They also brought to the venue two baby dolls, one of which was of a live size, crafted as a puppet that could blink its eyes. The agents were the first to approach the Bãlẹ to offer their traditional compliments, and they were soon followed by their wives as a group. Then followed a short service opened with the Yoruba hymn: “Olorun Gba Bãlẹ La,” translated from the English hymn, “God Save the King.” The reading of the Psalms and prayers for the Bãlẹ also formed part of the liturgy. A little amusement with the dolls relaxed the atmosphere just before the leading convert of Ibadan Christianity, James Oderinde, related an anecdote on the sanctity of the person of the king and the king’s responsibility to embrace the word of God and deal justly. It was all calculated to infuse the office of the Bãlẹ with Judeo-Christian ethics in a society where might was right. And it ended well with the Bãlẹ’s open commitment to a just rule and the wellbeing of the Christian community. The hymn “Olorun Gba Bãlẹ La” was sung again to close the occasion and underscore the loyalty of this community of faith to the new ruler. [50]

Olubi’s public adventure moved Ibadan mission from the margins of society to its center, thereby scaling whatever misgivings his mentor might have had in keeping a safe distance from the intemperate local institutions of politics and power. It was not novel in the country. His inspiration certainly derived from Abeokuta’s church-state model where Henry Townsend replicated Anglicanism by nestling the prime Ake Church side by side with the Alake’s palace. [51] Yet, if in an apparently less volatile environment like Abeokuta the churches could suffer the fate that befell them in the 1867 spontaneous destruction of their properties, Ibadan churches were more vulnerable. And Olubi must be aware of Rev. Hinderer’s allegation that Egba leaders attempted to induce Ibadan authorities to do to Ibadan mission what they did to the churches in Abeokuta in the housebreaking saga. [52] With the public show of solidarity with the Bãlẹ, Olubi pre-empted whatever ill-fate might be lurking in the dark for his mission in an unscrupulous society like nineteenth century Ibadan.

As much as the public show of solidarity with the Bãlẹ strengthened the friendship between the mission and the state, it reveals Olubi’s self understanding. As a matter of fact, he saw his mission as part of the state. An incident that took place in July 1872 brings this to the fore. He was returning from a prayer meeting of the agents, held at Ogunpa, when he saw a man tied to a pole at Oja Oba, the king’s market. The man was later executed for homicide. The following day Olubi took with him Mr. Samuel Johnson, his schoolmaster, and approached the Oluwo, the head of the Ogboni (Council of elders who adjudicate in serious cases like those involving human life). Olubi “begged him to be sure to let me know always whenever such a public execution should be done that I may speak a word or two to the condemned person.” He thereafter went to the tree on which the severed head of the criminal was hanging and addressed the people. [53] Obviously, he was assuming the office of state chaplain, but it shows how closely he sought to bring the mission to the center of Ibadan administration.

In his awareness of the role of the church in a secular state, the leader of Ibadan mission interacted very well with the chiefs. The result was that he did not shy from drawing from that interaction the goodwill the mission needed to survive. When in 1871 he needed people to help convey from the forest the planks for repairing the church at Kudeti, Olubi approached the Bãlẹ for assistance. The chief generously sent seventy-seven young men into the forest to convey the materials to town. Olubi and his people had requested for only sixty people, but for cultural sensibility they could not turn back the extra hands. It turned out that Bãlẹ’s intuition worked perfectly for their good. He thought seventy two people would do for conveying the planks under the supervision of five. Olubi and the Bãlẹ were both gratified that the arrangement was providential. What Olubi sang seven months earlier at the public show of solidarity became his prayer in gratitude for the generosity: “May God spare his life long for us.” [54]

Also significant in his interaction with Ibadan powers was Olubi’s sense of humor. During one of those visits to the Bãlẹ to request for assistance in bringing the planks to town, he met six Muslims priests praying for him each at a time. They all prayed in Yoruba and in Arabic, at the end of which everyone said “Amen.” Olubi reports:

The prayers being over, I said to Bãlẹ, the prayers which these Mohammedans offered in the Yoruba language were very good prayers & may the blessings be sent abundantly upon you, your people and place. But the long prayer which they have said in the Arabic language, which neither you nor yet any of us do hear & understand, we must not say amen to that. At this both the Mohammedans, the Bãlẹ, & those who were then present broke out into a great laughter. [55]

The pastor was gratified with the Bãlẹ’s subsequent remark in the presence of the Muslims: “You oibos [literally meaning “whites,” but “Christians” in this context] say nothing dark to us. Your preaching, & your prayers are always plain. But these Mohammendas will say one plain, & one dark; their things never can go all equal.” The Muslims agreed with the Bãlẹ and took the whole episode for the humor that it was. By such lightness of spirit Olubi insinuated the Christian community into the heart of both friends and foes.

The leverage Olubi’s generous spirit gave the church cannot be overemphasized in a town where Christians constituted an insignificant part of the population. They were often exempted from demands made upon their non-Christian neighbors, although sometimes it required high diplomacy to enforce these privileges. An example was the culture of forcing young men to war. Young Christian men sometimes had to withdraw to the farms to avoid being forcibly recruited although there was an understanding that they did not share in the spirit of the age. In fact they were known to be “quiet people, averse to fame and worldly honour.” [56]

Perhaps the highest dividend Olubi’s personality earned Ibadan mission was the agreement between him and the head priest of Sango cult in Kudeti that they, Sango priests, would not operate in the neighborhood of the church if lightening set any house there on fire. [57] This incident was common in Ibadan and it ritually afforded the priests the perverted right to plunder the victims, fine them prohibitive sums of money and confiscate whatever livestock they found around the now sacred environment. It did not matter who owned them. They are supposedly by right appropriated by the priests of Sango.

When it is borne in mind that Sango cult was the most powerful and influential religious cult in the nineteenth century Yoruba country, one can appreciate Olubi’s influence in Ibadan. This came to light vividly when tragedy struck the mission residence at Oke Aremo in 1883 and the catechist there, Mr. Samuel Johnson, was nearly killed. Olubi drew from his influence with the chiefs to extend the same privilege to that station. In spite of the enormous pressure the priests put on the congregation, Olubi succeeded in restraining them through the chiefs. [58] A vulnerable and often economically distressed Christian community like that in nineteenth century Ibadan needed this influence, and Olubi’s personality succeeded in facilitating it.

Renewing and Consolidating the Work

On his way out in 1869, Hinderer saw the need for Olubi to be ordained so that he could take full responsibility for the churches in Ibadan. [59] He, therefore, recommended him accordingly. On Advent Sunday, December 3, 1871, he was admitted to Deacon Order at Christ Church, Lagos, by the Bishop of Sierra Leone. [60] Four years later, on February 6, 1876, Bishop Cheetham of Sierra Leone admitted him to Priestly Order at Ake Church, Abeokuta. On that occasion he recollected with pathos that he was baptized in this church twenty-eight years earlier and was thankful to God for his Christian religious itinerary to date. [61]

Olubi’s first endeavor, on being ordained a priest, was to undertake a tour eastward and renew the work in Ọyọ and Ogbomoso. The work at Ọyọ had virtually fallen into pieces. The church having suffered from incendiary elements prowling in that town fell into bad times. The princes and influential court officers always had something to complain about the church leaders, whether they were agents or lay leaders. Noteworthy were the incessant allegations of the men that their women became insubordinate whenever they began to attend church. Olubi sought audience with the Alafin in renewing the life of the community and the royal majesty promised to assist. He stationed there a scripture reader he brought from Ibadan, Thomas Williams. He also placed David Ọsi at Ogbomoso to renew the work there. [62]

The work at Ọyọ continued to prove demanding with respect to supervision and funding. Olubi had to raise money for the church and support its indigent members. He also had to send embassies there to resolve conflicts between the church and the wider society. It was virtually impossible for the church at Ọyọ to function without being dragged into the local politics of the town. Olubi took responsibility for it as an extension of Ibadan mission until 1886 when the Finance Committee of the CMS in Lagos assigned there his ordained protégé, Samuel Johnson. At that time it was becoming clear that, for reason of diminishing vigor, he would not be able to continue to superintend the work in far away places like Ọyọ, Ogbomoso and Iseyin. [63]

On the home front, Olubi coordinated the efforts of the catechists, scripture readers and schoolmasters. At the same time he ensured that he kept regular contacts with the chiefs. The perennial problem of repairing, or even rebuilding, the chapels as a result of dilapidation or destructive effects of the tornadoes tasked the resources of the churches. Accessions to them continued, but they were slow; occasional domestic persecutions were not wanting in places like Aremo and Ogunpa. Kudeti’s financial difficulties were endemic as it was largely composed of elderly people. The schools too were poorly patronized as the people did not yet value learning. But in spite of the hard ground of Ibadan, the agents and the congregations trudged on.

Despite his liberal disposition towards the ruling elite, and as much as it was possible, Olubi sustained the disciplines Mr. Hinderer instituted in the rank and file of the agents in Ibadan. From all indications, he might have been the youngest of the three principal agents the missionary put in charge of the three congregations. Olubi’s supervisory role can only be assumed because he was in charge of the prime station, Kudeti, and he became the highest ranking agent. But in reality, he could only have exercised limited control over W. S. Allen and James Okuseinde. Nevertheless, he managed the situation within the limits of Yoruba cultural scruples.

When Mr. Hinderer returned to Lagos to begin another round of missionary engagement, this time at Lekki, he visited Ibadan in 1875. He was impressed with the progress he saw at Kudeti under Olubi and at Ogunpa under Okuseinde. In his words, he was particularly affected by the “good moral tone, & unity & brotherly love” that marked their congregations. [64] In fact, Ogunpa was a miracle of awakening. In the few months prior to Hinderer’s arrival, the congregation witnessed “a spiritual stir with…much persecution” which transformed the station from “a hard place…which formerly under Mr. Allen had almost to be given up” until Olubi was temporarily assigned there.

But it was the same story of failure again under Allen at Aremo. The church, which had over the years shown brighter prospects, had been mismanaged. The church building was decrepit and factions had emerged in the congregation as a result of Allen’s indiscretion. His underlying problem was distraction into the cotton business which now engaged his attention. The business led him away from the guiding principles Mr. Hinderer had established for the mission. [65] In consequence of his neglect, but particularly for his business interest and slave-holding, Allen officially resigned from the mission in May 1875. With the scarcity of personnel, Mr. Hinderer had to devise a plan for the station:

We have now to repair & partly build anew the station, when I hope Samuel Johnson the only available man here, who will have to take the station, will do a better work; indeed I have no doubt he will prove faithful & industrious. He will have hard work at first for Allen had partly created a radical faction in some of the young men by the side of the conservative & faithful body of that congregation. [66]

Olubi’s cultural limit was Allen’s threshold of failure. Although he was ecclesiastically superior to this colony-born agent from Sierra Leone, Olubi’s age was a restraint in a culture where age matters in human relations. Yoruba scruples certainly incapacitated this culturally-sensitive pastor who turned his eyes away from the neglect of a colleague whose indiscretion nearly ruined aspect of the work.

The most sensitive of the guiding principles Mr. Hinderer upheld in Ibadan mission was the issue of domestic slavery. While the agents at Abeokuta inherited, bought and, possibly, sold persons, Hinderer frowned at such indulgence. But for the case of W. S. Allen, Olubi sustained this discipline in a society that had no culture of paid employment while the need for workers was acute. It was essentially to the credit of Hinderer and, partly to Olubi’s, that at the conference on domestic slavery, called in Lagos on March 16-23, 1880, Ibadan agents came clean where their Egba colleagues from Abeokuta threw tantrums and created tension. In fact, Ibadan mission was ahead in this matter as Olubi extended this code of ethics to all the church members at the annual week of prayer held in January 1879, just before Bishop Cheetham visited Abeokuta in February and discovered the scandal among the agents there. He particularly warned the young men against slave holding and “marauding excursions.” [67] Although from Abeokuta himself, he showed the moral diligence of another Egba agent taken out of the indulgent environment of Abeokuta mission.

Mediating Peace

In 1877, with the renewal of hostility between Ibadan and its neighbors, the mission came again into extreme privation reminiscent of the Ijaye war years. It was both a trying time and a moment of opportunity for the mission to pay back its debt to a state that has been supportive of its work.

Ãre Latosa was the highest ranking war chief in Ibadan in the 1870s. Although he was ruthless in pursuing his ambition, he was a good friend of Ibadan mission under Olubi. In 1877, he claimed to be sending an expedition to Mokofi, near Imeko, to retrieve some articles for the Alafin. Although the expedition did not pass through Egba territory, its passage through what they considered as their “backyard” was seen as an invitation for trouble. Even in Ibadan, the common people saw the expedition as provocative. The rumbling that followed between the two towns ignited the sixteen year war that eventually brought the country under colonial rule.

In response to the disaffection at Abeokuta, the bellicose Ãre plunged Yorubaland into what he intended to be a war to end all wars in the country. By it, he intended to bring the entire country under Ibadan’s suzerainty, in the hope that a central government like that of the defunct Ọyọ hegemony would hold the factious peoples together. Ãre would not yield to all entreaties from Olubi and his fellow agents as well as those from other respectable persons in the country. Not even the local plot against his life could deter him. He pursued his eccentric ambition and Olubi could only write with despondency in his annual letter for the year, “It is now a dark night with us in this mission, things being in confusion. But we hope for the morning when things will be cleared….We earnestly beg your ardent prayers on behalf of Yoruba Mission.” [68] The situation became serious and dangerous for the agents in Ibadan to report updates and developments in their mails and journals. The possibility of these being intercepted was a risk Olubi and his agents were not willing to take as it could cost them their lives and spell the doom of the mission. [69]

Ãre’s war against the Egba backfired on Ibadan as their subject peoples in the interior took the opportunity of the distraction in the south to revolt en-masse. Ibadan was shut in again. The roads that led to the coast through Abeokuta and Ijebu were closed against its people. Cowries to purchase food became scarce, and the mission came again into distress. The care for the churches fell on Olubi’s shoulders. But with the realization that Ibadan could neither win nor lose the war, the additional responsibility to work for peace still fell on him and his colleagues.

Until 1881, the agents of the CMS in the interior did not exercise significant influence in stopping the wars that had troubled the Yoruba country for several decades. Although their counsels for restraint were often taken with the usual Yoruba courtesy, they did not restrain the belligerents from going to war. From October 1881, the trend changed as the CMS Ibadan mission became involved in the long and tortuous search for peace. This involvement began at Ọyọ when the Alafin held a meeting with Olubi; his catechist at Aremo, Samuel Johnson; and the agents at Iseyin, Fashina Foster. [70] Johnson, under Olubi, ran the errands of the Alafin, that of Ibadan warriors at Kiriji, [71] and later that of the colonial regime in Lagos. It was a long drawn-out process that consumed time, money, and energy. But at the center was Olubi who, as the superintendent of the mission, provided the communication rallying point among the belligerents.

Ibadan particularly needed access to the coast in order to procure the same sophisticated weapons their enemies were using with effect against them. Taking Olubi as a loyal Ibadan resident and supposing him to be the representative in the interior of Europeans on the coast, they wanted him to facilitate this access with the colonial government in Lagos. [72] Olubi facilitated communication with the government but not for access to weapons. His purpose was to realize the popular aspiration of the people for peace. This was not easy as he had to be seen as neutral by Ibadan’s opponents without giving Ibadan warriors the impression of being indifferent to their plight.

Partial peace was eventually brokered in 1886 through the intervention of the colonial regime in Lagos. The achievement was significant for Ibadan as the warriors on both sides were dispersed, and were able to return to their homes at no risk to themselves. But skirmishes continued on other fronts. In particular, Ijebu youths flagrantly refused interior peoples direct access to Lagos through their country. They wanted to maintain the monopoly of the trade between the coast and interior country. Ibadan’s frantic desire for direct access to the coast could be gauged with the willingness of the authorities there to accede to the demand of their Ijebu counterparts.

The Awujale, the Ijebu king, literally wanted Olubi’s head. His offences were that he had shown the white man the way into the country and had relieved Ibadan from its distress at Kiriji. The authorities in Ibadan had agreed to hand him over to them, but a timely providence forestalled the plan before it was carried out. [73] The colonial regime was tired of the recalcitrance of Ijebu and sent a punitive expedition to Ijebu Ode in May 1892. The sacking of the town forced the country open, saved Olubi’s life, and made the whole country heave a sigh of relief. But it soon made the country a protectorate of the British government and, later, an extension of the Colony of Lagos.

Olubi’s Legacy

The CMS Register of Missionaries describes Ibadan mission as “one of the most exemplary Christian communities in all the C. M. S. Missions.” Although this qualification was expressed in reference to the achievement of Olubi’s teacher and mentor, Mr. David Hinderer, its premise was the result of the Egba agent’s ability to pilot the mission through its many years of isolation from “all European superintendence.” [74] The compliment comes into sharp focus against the background of the violent socio-political environment of nineteenth century Yoruba country.

In this light, it was providential that Olubi’s place of ministry was Ibadan where, for decades, he was able to serve as a bridge-builder between his people at Abeokuta and their Ibadan adversary. He rose up to the role in which providence cast him as a man of the two worlds of the Egba and Ọyọ peoples. In the former, he had his biological ancestry; in the latter, he had his vocational identity as the superintendent of a fledgling mission. His success in holding the two identities in tension shows his conciliatory ability to stand astride the two clans in opposition without giving offence to either. Olubi might very well have been to the nineteenth century Yoruba country Don Richardson’s “Peace Child.” [75]

However, in spite of the providential nature of his role and success, his was not an experience without pain. As a churchman and resident of Ibadan during the sixteen year war, he suffered privation with his flock and often had to mediate between them and the unscrupulous elements in the town who were using the difficulties of the time to exploit the people. Moreover, the challenge to maintain a balance between the belligerents, in the attempt to bring the war to an end, was no less daunting. The demand for his head by the Ijebu king demonstrates the risk involved in his arduous, complex and delicate task of working for peace in the country.

Still significant is Olubi’s cultural sensitivity to the political establishment of Ibadan. In a society whose ethics are in flagrant opposition to those of the gospel, it is a worthy achievement that he was able to bring the mission close to the establishment without undermining the values of moral restraint established by his superior. Here, Olubi’s spiritual and cultural formations come to a convergence most needed for mission in the untamed environment of the country. [76] For by keeping a healthy distance from the political establishment, his predecessor himself showed the limits to which his Euro-pietistic orientation could take him. And it was evident that even the partially westernized, colony-born elements in the mission, like W. S. Allen and Samuel Johnson, had not the wherewithal to confidently engage the people’s idiosyncrasies for the advancement of the mission. On the other hand, Olubi’s religious and cultural formations as a thorough, home-grown species of mission agent readily qualified him for the role providence thrust on him.

Yet, herein lay Olubi’s limits also. For if the likes of W. S. Allen had been many in the mission, his success would have been greatly tempered if not made impossible. Hinderer’s timely intervention of 1875 at Aremo may therefore be seen as another act of the providence that thrust on him the leadership of the mission. Perhaps, the evident limitation imposed on his management skill by this cultural sensitivity only underscored his humanity. What then is his legacy? Olubi shows that mission in the context of violence requires integrity of character, the flexibility to resonate with the conflicting perspectives of the belligerents, the willingness to facilitate available resources to establish peace, and the readiness to be vulnerable. The cross, Olubi demonstrated, remains the ultimate bridge to reconciliation.

At the defeat of Ijebu in 1892, a new lease of life dawned on the Yoruba country. Missionaries who were, hitherto, limited to the coast came into the country again. They occupied Ibadan and Ọyọ and took over the superintendence of the work. Olubi himself having advanced in age easily moved aside. Earlier, following the visit of Mr. Hinderer to Ibadan in 1875, he had requested that Ibadan be “considered as the headquarter to interior mission, and… be suitably furnished with an intelligent and influential European missionary.” [77] Now that he had brought the mission safely through twenty-four turbulent years, including the sixteen years of privation at the risk of his life, he could only be glad to see the prospects of the work renewed under their administration. He continued to serve the church in Ibadan in diminishing capacities until his death in 1912. There, at St. David’s Church, Kudeti, he was interred in the company of others who gave their lives to see the gospel rooted among the people.

Kehinde Olabimtan


  1. Anna Hinderer put the number of Egba settlements destroyed at no less than 145. See: R. H. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country-Memorials of Anna Hinderer (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1872), 215.

  2. The description of Joseph Wright, an Egba rescued slave who ended up in Sierra Leone as a Methodist minister, is not short of the shock this word conveys. See: “The Narrative of Joseph Wright,” in Africa Remembered–Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade, ed. Philip D. Curtin, (Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1967).

  3. D. Olubi, journal entry, February 6, 1867, Church Missionary Society (CMS) Archives, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK, C/A2/O75/19.

  4. D. Olubi, journal entry, January 10, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/28.

  5. D. Olubi, journal entry, February 6, 1867, CMS C/A2/O75/19.

  6. The first two relations were themselves priests of Yoruba religions at the time Olubi became a Christian. A few years after him, however, they too were converted as well as Olubi’s mother. D. Olubi, journal entry, January 10, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/28; journal entry, July 4, 1876, CMS C/A2/O75/34.

  7. D. Olubi, journal entry, February 6, 1867, CMS C/A2/O75/19; D. Olubi to H. Wright, April 17, 1876, CMS C/A2/075/7.

  8. D. Olubi to H. Wright, April 17, 1876, CMS C/A2/075/7. In an earlier journal entry, June 22, 1875, Olubi wrote that he was baptized in 1849. See CMS C/A2/O75/31.

  9. D. Hinderer, journal entry, May 14, 1849, CMS C/A2/O49/94.

  10. D. Olubi to H. Wright, April 17, 1876, CMS C/A2/075/7.

  11. Kefer had just been ordained in Sierra Leone before the Parent Committee of the CMS reassigned him to Ibadan mission. This young, unmarried man from Wurtenberg served in Ibadan for two years before falling to prey to yellow fever in May 1855. He was the first missionary to be buried in Ibadan. R. H. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, 49.

  12. R. H. Hone, 89; D. Hinderer, journal entry, September 25, 1854, CMS C/A2/O49/109.

  13. D. Hinderer to H. Venn, February 27, 1856, CMS C/A2/O49/26.

  14. D. Hinderer, Report of Journey to Oyo, CMS C/A2/O49/114.

  15. D. Hinderer, journal entries, May 26 and 28, 1856, CMS C/A2/O49/114.

  16. R. H. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, 153.

  17. R. H. Hone.

  18. They left Ibadan on July 14, 1856. D. Hinderer, journal Entries, May 26 and 28, 1856, CMS C/A2/O49/114.

  19. D. Hinderer to the Secretaries, October 28, 1860, CMS C/A2/O49.

  20. D. Hinderer to the Secretaries, October 18, 1860, CMS C/A2/O49/44. Here Hinderer makes his usual distinction between the Egba and Ibadan people. The latter are of the Oyo stock for whom the term “Yoruba” was first used before the later pan-Yoruba identity incorporated Egba, Ijebu, Ife, Ijesha, Ekiti, Akoko, Igbomina and other related peoples who claim Ile-Ife as their source.

  21. D. Hinderer to the Secretaries, October 18, 1860, CMS C/A2/O49/44. Had the information reached town that members of the mission were sending out messages to the enemies outside Ibadan, it would have spelt the end of the mission. For the chiefs would have ordered its pillage and would have turned it into a refuse dump Ibadan fashion.

  22. D. Olubi, journal entries, July 7 and 28, August 18 and 25, and September 22, 1867, CMS C/A2/O75/20.

  23. Their years of “splendid isolation” came to an end after the 1892 British punitive expedition to Ijebu Ode, their cultural center. In the aftermath of the experience, Ijebu embraced Christianity and appropriated all the opportunities that attended it, especially western education. To this they added their gift of entrepreneurship. By mid-twentieth century, they had caught up with their Egba neighbors while outstripping Ibadan and other interior peoples of Yorubaland in all departments of modern development. See: E. A. Ayandele, The Ijebu of Yorubaland, 1850-1950: Politics, Economy and Society (Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1992).

  24. D. Olubi, journal entry December 29, 1872, CMS C/A2/O75/27.

  25. D. Olubi to D. Williams, January 4, 1877, CMS C/A2/O75/16.

  26. D. Olubi, journal entry, March 10, 1868, CMS C/A2/O75/21.

  27. D. Hinderer, Half Yearly Report ending June 25, 1868, CMS C/A2/O49/120.

  28. I have not been able to ascertain if this headman, Bola, was the same person as Chief Aiyejenku or was different from him. My preliminary conjecture is that they are different persons. Since Chief Aiyejenku ended with ignominy in 1877, having fallen out of favor with his fellow chiefs in Ibadan, it is understandable that Bola’s name has been perpetuated by naming the location of the church today in Ibadan as Oke Bola although the name “Fọkọ” is retained for a more traditional settlement under the shadow of Oke Bola.

  29. D. Olubi, journal entry, March 13, 1868, CMS C/A2/O75/21.

  30. D. Olubi, journal entries, March 14 and 15, 1868, CMS C/A2/O75/21.

  31. D. Olubi, journal entry, March 21, 1868, CMS C/A2/O75/21.

  32. D. Olubi, journal entry, August 10, 1868, CMS C/A2/O75/22.

  33. Although the preachers were always talking about eternal life, the idea was too far removed from the people’s urgent concerns and aspiration for the good life.

  34. D. Olubi, journal entry, January 3, 1869, CMS C/A2/O75/23.

  35. D. Olubi, journal entry, April 6, 1869, CMS C/A2/O75/23.

  36. D. Olubi, journal entry, April 6, 1869, CMS C/A2/O75/23.

  37. R. H. Hone, Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country, p. 156.

  38. D. Hinderer, Half Yearly Report of Ibadan Mission Stations ending June 25, 1869, CMS C/A2/O49/121.

  39. D. Olubi, journal entry, August 31, 1869, CMS C/A2/O75/24. Mr. Hinderer came to Yoruba mission in 1849. He secured permission to begin Ibadan mission during his five-week visit to the town in 1851. He began the work with his wife in 1853, having arrived with her at Abeokuta in December 1852.

  40. D. Olubi, journal entry, August 25, 1867, CMS C/A2/O75/20.

  41. A. Hinderer to C. C. Fenn, February 3, 1869, CMS C/A2/O49/73.

  42. D. Olubi to Parent Committee, September 15, 1869, CMS C/A2/O75/1.

  43. Olubi might have been appointed a catechist after the Hinderers returned from England in 1866, for he began to send his journal extracts to the Parent Committee of the CMS from June, that year. D. Olubi, journal entry, July 23, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/29.

  44. D. Olubi, journal entries, January 6-17, 1870, CMS C/A2/O75/25.

  45. D. Olubi to Parent Committee, September 26, 1870, CMS C/A2/O75/3.

  46. D. Olubi, journal entry, April 28, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/28; journal entry, July 21, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/29.

  47. D. Olubi, journal entry, August 11, 1870, CMS C/A2/O75/26.

  48. D. Olubi, journal entry, September 30, 1870, CMS C/A2/O75/26.

  49. D. Olubi, journal entry, October 15, 1870, CMS C/A2/O75/26.

  50. D. Olubi, journal entry, November 11, 1870, CMS C/A2/O75/26.

  51. John Peel has contrasted the spatial location of the centers of mission activities in Abeokuta and Ibadan with respect to the seat of political power. He suggests that the peripheral location of mission points in Ibadan away from the city’s political center drew from Hinderer’s Basel pietism while Townsend’s Anglicanism influenced its contiguous location to the very seat of power at Abeokuta. John Peel, Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000), 136, 137, 272.

  52. D. Hinderer to the Secretaries, December 30, 1867, CMS C/A2/O49/68.

  53. D. Olubi, journal entries, July 23 and 24, 1872, CMS C/A2/O75/27.

  54. D. Olubi to Parent Committee, June 26, 1871, CMS C/A2/O75/3.

  55. D. Olubi to Parent Committee, June 26, 1871, CMS C/A2/O75/3.

  56. S. Johnson, journal entry, April 5, 1876, CMS C/A2/O58/6.

  57. D. Olubi, journal entry, June 1, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/28; journal entry, July 11, 1873, CMS C/A2/O75/29.

  58. S. Johnson, journal entry, September 30, 1883, CMS G3/A2/O(1884)/101.

  59. D. Hinderer, Half Yearly Report ending June 25, 1869, CMS C/A2/O49/121.

  60. D. Olubi to Parent Committee, January 17, 1872, CMS C/A2/O75/4.

  61. D. Olubi to H. Wright, April 17, 1876, CMS C/A2/O75/7.

  62. D. Olubi, journal entry, February 29, 1876, CMS C/A2/O75/33.

  63. J. Maser to R. Lang, June 5, 1884, CMS G3/A2/O(1884)/133.

  64. The two men were home trained for the ministry under Mr. Hinderer. Both of them started with him at Abeokuta, Olubi as his servant and Okuseinde, first, as his groom, taking care of his horse and, then, as his cook. D. Hinderer to H. Wright, July 15, 1875, CMS C/A2/O49/80.

  65. He procured a slave boy to assist him in his cotton business, who on finding the work uninteresting planned to escape. Allen sold him away before he made good his plan. Allen’s inconsistencies in service appear, again, like the uncanny fate that seemed to dog many Sierra Leone colony-born young men and agents of the mission. D. Hinderer to H. Wright, July 15, 1875, CMS C/A2/O49/80.

  66. D. Hinderer to H. Wright, July 15, 1875, CMS C/A2/O49/80.

  67. D. Olubi, journal entry, January 10, 1879, CMS C/A2/O75/38.

  68. D. Olubi to C. C. Fenn, January 14, 1878, CMS C/A2/O75/45.

  69. D. Olubi, journal entry, June 30, 1879, CMS C/A2/O75/38.

  70. A. Foster, journal entry, October 15, 1881, CMS G3/A2/O(1881)/147; S. Johnson, journal entry, October 15, 1881, CMS G3/A2/O(1884)/101.

  71. The war theater was called Kiriji, a Yoruba onomatopoeic word depicting the sound of the guns fired by the warring parties as they boomed across the hills from where they assailed each other.

  72. S. Johnson to D. Olubi, Nov. 17, 1883, CMS G3/A2/O(1884)/140.

  73. Johnson, The History of the Yorubas–From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate (Lagos: CMS, 1921), 616-618.

  74. s.v. “Hinderer, David.” Church Missionary Society, Register of Missionaries, 73.

  75. Don Richardson’s classic, Peace Child, tells the story of how three clans of the head-hunting Sawi people of New Guinea made peace among themselves by given over their children to enemy clan. Peace was maintained between the enemies as long as the children remained with the enemy clan.

  76. John Peel has termed the response of Ibadan mission agents to the ruling elites, especially the ruthless Ãre Latosa, “realpolitik.” See: John Peel, “Two Pastors and their Histories, Samuel Johnson and C.C. Reindorf,” in The Recovery of the West African Past: African Pastors and African History in the Nineteenth Century–C.C. Reindorf and Samuel Johnson, ed. Paul Jenkins (Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1998), 80.

  77. D. Olubi to C. C. Fenn, December 21, 1878, CMS C/A2/O75/43.



Archives of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.

Hone, R. H. Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country–Memorials of Anna Hinderer. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1872.

Johnson, Samuel, The History of the Yorubas-From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the British Protectorate. Lagos: CMS, 1921.

Wright, Joseph. “The Narrative of Joseph Wright.” In Africa Remembered–Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade, ed. Philip D. Curtin. Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.


Ayandele, E. A. The Ijebu of Yorubaland, 1850-1950: Politics, Economy and Society. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books, 1992.

Church Missionary Society, Register of Missionaries.

Peel, John. “Two Pastors and Their Histories, Samuel Johnson and C.C. Reindorf.” In The Recovery of the West African Past: African Pastors and African History in the Nineteenth Century–C.C. Reindorf and Samuel Johnson, ed. Paul Jenkins, 69-81. Basel: Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 1998.

——–. Religious Encounter and the Making of the Yoruba. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000.

Richardson, Don. Peace Child. Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1974.

Smith, R. S. Kingdoms of the Yoruba. 3rd ed. London: James Currey, 1988.

This article, which was received in 2011, was written and researched by Dr. Kehinde Olabimtan, Coordinator of educational ministries, Good News Baptist Church and Adjunct Teacher, Akrofi-Christaller Institute, Ghana, and a recipient of the Project Luke Scholarship for 2010-2011.