Daniel Adediran Sangowole was a pioneer Baptist missionary in Iwo land, which was a predominantly Muslim community. He was both commissioned and sent out to start Baptist evangelical work in Iwo by the First Baptist Church in Awe. With thirty-five Baptist churches, the Baptist denomination has the largest congregations in Iwo land today. Although it is in a predominantly Muslim area, Iwo is home to a Baptist college which is the alma mater of many educated people in the southwestern states of Nigeria. Bowen University, of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, is also located in the city. Many indigenous Christians in Iwo today were converted through the ministry of Daniel Sangowole.
Daniel Adediran Sangowole was born in Lakanla compound, Awe, Oyo State. His mother was from Ogbomoso, which is also in Oyo State. It is believed that he attended primary school in Awe and passed the Standard Six Certificate Examination. He was born into a family that worshipped Sango (the Yoruba divinity of thunder), but was converted and baptized at First Baptist Church, Awe.
Sangowole married a woman named Susannah, who was from Fapote compound, Osupa, Ogbomoso, and she was quite supportive of her husband’s ministry. They both left Awe for Iwo on March 4, 1919, having spent one night in the village of Opayele. Upon arriving in Iwo, Sangowole first lived in the house of Prince Oranlola of Oyo, in Olukotun compound. Sangowole and his family had to change residence frequently because of one problem or another, but he was not deterred by these initial problems.
Sangowole started his ministry in Iwo land through street preaching, which he started on March 6, 1919, with his wife and the housemaid, Olubiola. He did this every morning and evening for a long time, usually going to the streets where a little group of women and children could be found, and telling them the story of Jesus and His love. His materials for evangelism were “picture rolls” and cards with Bible pictures, which he gave out to children after praying with them. As he continued his street preaching with picture rolls around the city, Sangowole’s evangelistic efforts yielded fruit: three men, Joseph Abegunde, Lajide, and Akande were converted on October 7, 1919, thus becoming some of the first members of the church. Thereafter, many people in Iwo and the neighboring villages were blessed through his ministry.
On October 19, 1919, Sangowole stumbled on a piece of land at Oosa compound that he thought would be suitable for a church building, so he asked the Oluwo for permission to use the land. Although he was quite happy to let him have it, when the process of securing it was slow, Sangowole reported the matter to Isamotu, son of the Oluwo, who assisted him in securing the land for the use of the church. In 1921, Dr. Maclean and Dr. Lockett, who were American Southern Baptist missionaries, visited Iwo to check on the progress of the Baptist work in the city. They advised Sangowole to build a fence around the plot of land that had been granted for the building, in order to safeguard it from encroachment. He took their advice, which also gave him the opportunity to plant maize on the undeveloped portion of the land. His experiment was so successful that he was nicknamed Tisa Alagbado (teacher and maize grower).
In 1919, as soon as he arrived in Iwo, he started a Bible class that eventually developed into a school. It was held every Friday, and the first pupils in the class were the children of Oranlola and E.G. Sobowale, a native of Abeokuta who was working as a trader for Lagos Stores Limited. In this class, the children learned to read the Bible, which gave them a better understanding of the Bible stories. Through these activities, pupils from other schools (especially pupils from the school founded by the Methodist Mission in Iwo) developed an interest in Sangowole’s school, and some were later enrolled there.
Both Ifa worshippers and Muslims created a lot of trouble for Sangowole because of the growth of Christianity in the town. His life was threatened and he was asked to vacate the land that had been granted to him by the Oluwo. These anti-Christians used diabolical means to attack him, and although two of his children died during that time, he was courageous and God gave him victory.
Sangowole organized the church into a full-fledged Baptist Church in June of 1922, and in 1923, three members of the church were baptized at Awe. The church building was constructed and expanded twice (in 1927 and 1932) during the time of his leadership. On January 19, 1930, as part of his spiritual effort, he started a prayer meeting that met in the mornings.
In 1937, the church purchased an organ and dedicated it for use in hymn singing. In the same year, the Baptist churches at Elemo, Ogburo, Feesu, Agberire, Ikonifin, and Asipa Foritaje were established to accomodate the converts residing in those villages. Church members were committed to God’s work under Sangowole’s leadership. They made this clear through their commitment to prayer and evangelism as well as by their various donations to God’s work: lanterns, lecterns, pews, pulpits, and much more. Sangowole received a preaching license in 1938 at the First Baptist Church in Aipate Iwo.
By 1944, the church had grown to include many organizations and societies, and on March 18-20 of that year, the church celebrated its’ Silver Jubilee. On September 27, in the same year, Daniel Adeniran Sangowole was called to his eternal reward after a two week illness.
Sangowole lived a life that cannot be forgotten in Iwo land. The first “Royal Ambassador” chapter of the church was named after him on June 12, 1983. He lived his life as a man of prayer and fasting, and he was a courageous, non-discriminatory, hardworking, and faithful minister of the gospel.
Victor Akintunde Adeniji
Adeniji, V.A. “A Historical Development of First Baptist Church, Aipate Iwo: 1919-2002” (unpublished M.Div. Project, NBTS Ogbomoso, 2004).
Atanda, J. A. Baptist Churches in Nigeria 1850-1950. Ibadan: University Press Limited, 1988.
70th Anniversary Celebration Program, 1989, First Baptist Church, Aipate Iwo.
Sangowole, D.A. “The History of the Baptist Church, Aipate Iwo. Jubilee Anniversary, March 1919-March 1944,” unpublished.
Sobowale G. Olu “The Beginning of Baptist Work in Iwo Town,” unpublished.
Revd. D. Olu Eyitayo, (Senior Pastor, Aipate Baptist Church, Iwo) interview by author, September, 30 2009.
Mrs. D. Olaitan Ladipo (daughter), interview by author, October 3, 2009, Ibadan.
This article, received in 2010, was written by Victor Akintunde Adeniji, PhD candidate at the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, under the supervision of Dr. Michael Leke Ogunewu, and the rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.
Sangowole, Daniel Adediran, Nigeria, Nigerian Baptist Convention