Rindap Damina Bawado was leader of the Langtang District of Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) until his retirement in 1990. He was also the leader of the Church of Christ in Nigeria as a whole for thirty years. The COCIN is a church established by the British branch of the Sudan United Mission, otherwise known as S.U.M. At the same time, Bawado was also the leader of the Association of Churches of Christ in Nigeria (in Hausa Tarayar Eklisioyoyin Kristi A Nijeriya or TEKAN) for eight years. He was, without a doubt, one of the most important church leaders in northern Nigeria.
Rindap was probably born in 1918 to Pa Bawado and Mamwong in a Tarok village called Lyangjit. His second name, Damina, is Hausa and means “rainy season,” which might mean he was born during the wet season. His first name, Rindap, is Tarok and means “Orim (the Tarok deity) is leader.”
The Tarok, mainly farmers, lived in the hills and on the plains southeast of Plateau State in Nigeria. Several theories have been propounded on their origins as a people that immigrated from places outside their present location. Prominent among these theorists are Stephen Banfa, Selbut Longtau, A. B. Matthews and Elias Lamle. However, more recent scholarship holds that most of Jos Plateau peoples are indigenous to the area.
When Rindap was born, his parents were deeply involved in Tarok traditional worship. Pa Bawado was polygamous and remained so even after he had become a Christian in 1925. He was therefore not baptized till his death. But he personally took Rindap to the Mission House in Langtang in 1926 so his son could acquire the “wisdom” of the white people. By this time, Langtang had become the leading Tarok town and the mission headquarters. Therefore, as Rindap grew up in a Christian home, he would not have known much about the Tarok traditional religion. That is why he would later say, “I grew up at Langtang and never knew any of the old fetish customs of our tribe.”
Soon Rindap was befriended by the early missionaries in Tarokland, first by the Coopers and later by the Richmonds. He served both families as a houseboy. Rev. H. J. Cooper enrolled the young Rindap in the Class for Religious Instruction (C.R.I.),–as the elementary schools run by missions were called. Here he learned to read and write in Hausa and, with the help of the missionaries, he also learned to read and speak English.
Rindap said he was challenged to accept Christ as his Saviour by an elder in the Langtang church in 1932. Joy flowed into his heart and immediately Rindap made a public declaration of his conversion in the Langtang church.
After completing the C.R.I. training in Langtang, Rindap returned home to Lyangjit. His father made him learn shoemaking to keep him busy. Rindap took time to go out preaching in the villages in the company of other local converts.
In 1934 Rindap was admitted into the newly opened mission teacher training school called Evangelists’ Training Institute in Gindiri (another S.U.M. station about one hundred kilometers northwest of Langtang). He finished the teachers’ training in 1943, spending most of that six year period as a trainee teacher in the Langtang primary school. After his training, he returned to Langtang where he continued working as a teacher.
Rindap also loved to preach. One area he attacked in his preaching was Tarok traditional worship, characterized by the appearance of masked dancers which were particularly dreaded by women. At one time, the masked dancers, fed up with Rindap’s constant attacks, kidnapped him and took him to their sacred groves. He would have been murdered without the quick intervention of a missionary named Captain J. Wilkie.
Rindap never forgot this incident. Later, he battled the traditionalists for constituting themselves into a public nuisance by seizing their sacred drum until they promised him they would no longer trespass on church premises.
Before Rindap went away to be trained as a pastor, he was posted to Garkawa as a head teacher in the mission primary school there.
Rindap married Fakat Damaris Kyembai in March 1938 in the Langtang church. The marriage was blessed with ten children. Out of these children eight have survived. With his new marital status, Rindap began to prepare himself for baptism. In those days, one could not be baptized single. He was baptized in 1938.
In 1945, Rindap entered Pastors’ Training School in Gindiri for one year. At the end of the training, in 1946, Rindap was licensed as a pastor and ordained in 1948. He was one of the three ordained pastors of the S.U.M. (British Branch) that year. Thus Rindap became the second Tarok to be ordained after Bali Macit. Bali Macit had been the first Tarok convert.
Rindap’s potential as a pastor was noticed early, while he was still in Pastors’ Training School, when he was asked to preach at the conference of the S.U.M. churches in Ancho in December 1945.
After his ordination, Rindap was posted to Mban where he was a pastor of the local church there for seven years. Rindap also doubled as supervisor of mission schools (C.R.I.) at Garkawa, Kbwai and Mban. While still in Mban, he was elected treasurer of the Langtang church in 1947. He proved so trustworthy that he was appointed acting superintendent of the mission in Langtang for a few months between the time Captain and Mrs J. Wilkie retired and left for home and the arrival of their successors, Rev. and Mrs H. E. Jump.
Rindap also became a part-time chairman of the Langtang District Church Council in 1948. In this capacity, his pastoral duties were not limited to Mban but extended throughout the Langtang district. He toured the district churches to dedicate children, solemnize weddings, give Holy Communion and offer counseling. While acting as chairman of the Langtang district, Rindap Bawado was elected chairman (later the name of the position was changed to “president”) of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in 1951. This meant he supervised the four COCIN districts of Langtang, Kabwir, Panyam and Foron.
In January 1954, Rindap was transferred to Langtang and became the first Nigerian to assume full leadership of the Langtang district headquarters church. Thus he become the full leader of the Langtang district church of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in addition to his responsibility as chairman of all of COCIN. In addition to these responsibilities, Rindap Bawado was elected chairman of the Association of the Churches of Christ in Nigeria (better known in its Hausa rendering as Tarayyar Ekklisioyoyin Kristi A Nijeriya or TEKAN) in 1962. As a result, from this time until he was relieved of the TEKAN chairmanship in 1970, Rindap was the busiest church leader in northern Nigeria, wearing three leadership hats. But he focused his attention mostly on his responsibilities as pastor of the Langtang church and leader of the Langtang district, later transformed into a region.
In 1965, Rev. Rindap Damina Bawado and Rev. Istifanus Deshi visited the United Kingdom to report on the progress of the COCIN and to visit churches and institutions that support S.U.M. missionary work in Nigeria. Indeed, this was a rare opportunity at this time. Rindap had the privilege of speaking to a Christian congregation in Cambridge and prayed for a British couple to have many children. They both visited one of the Keswick conventions.
Rindap Bawado’s contribution to the development of the Langtsng district of COCIN was in raising indigenous leadership, especially pastors, which the church needed desperately. One of the young men he encouraged to go into the ministry is now COCIN president, Rev. Alexander Mamdib Lar.
Rindap Bawado stepped down as president of COCIN in 1981 and was succeeded by Rev. Luther Cishak. He finally retired as minister in the church in 1990 and moved to his village of Lyangjit. Lonely and with nothing much to do, Rindap become mentally deranged just before he died in 1993.
COCIN and TEKAN remember Rev. Rindap Damina Bawado as a leader who worked tirelessly to maintain church unity.
Musa A. B. Gaiya
Elias N. Lamle, The Light Shines in the Hearts: COCIN and the Gospel in Tarokland (Jos: Cross Roads Communications, 2000).
Jordan Samson Rengshwat, “First COCIN President: The Life and Work of Rev. Damina Bawado,” M.Th. degree thesis (Bukuru: TCNN, 2002).
A. C. Kanu, *Biography of Reverend Rindap Damina Bawado *(Calabar: Cross River State Newspaper Corporation, n.d.).
Justin La-Nibetle, Sr. “A Brief Biography of Rindap Damina Bawado,” unpub. ms. (1990).
This article, received in 2003, was researched and written by Dr. Musa A. B. Gaiya, Senior Lecturer in Church History at the University of Jos Department of Religious Studies, Jos, Nigeria, and 2003-2004 Project Luke fellow.