Taiwo, Joseph Adeyemo
Joseph Adeyemo Taiwo was born on February 16, 1891, to the family of the Bale of Ojongbodu, Ojongbodu quarters, in the historic city of Oyo, Oyo State, Western Region of Nigeria. His mother and father died when he was five years old. Consequently, he lived with his grandfather and worked on his farm until the end of 1908.
In 1909, Joseph Adeyemo Taiwo left his grandfather’s farm and traveled to Ogbomoso to seek employment as a house boy, wanting to earn enough money to purchase new clothes and, in particular, a smoking pipe. After arriving in Ogbomoso, he met his uncle Daniel Okanla (a retired pastor of Imini Baptist Church) who was attending Baptist Training School under the leadership of Rev. Samuel George Pinnock. Daniel Okanla, after much discussion with his nephew, presented him to the Rev. and Mrs. Pinnock as one in need of work and schooling.
Taiwo began school with a number of other mission boys already under the care of Rev. Pinnock. Some of these boys later became leaders in their own communities-in particular Rev. James Aloba Lawoyin of Ilora, Rev. David Oguntade Okediji, and John Ayinde Idowu of Okeho. At the primary school in Ogbomoso in 1909 Emmanuel Babalola Barika was Taiwo’s first teacher and Pastor Elkanah Ladipo was headmaster of the school. In early 1911, Rev. Pinnock and his family left Ogbomoso for Abeokuta and Taiwo had to return to his uncle’s house, a move that interrupted his education for some time. There was no school at Ire where his uncle lived and he had to depend upon the irregular coaching of his uncle. This continued until about the middle of April 1913, when Rev. and Mrs. Pinnock sent for Taiwo, their son in Christ, whom they had left behind some four years earlier.
He joined his former mates and colleagues and continued his primary education in Ijaye Baptist Day School, Abeokuta. Soon though, Rev. and Mrs. Pinnock with Mrs. Dumbley, the principal of the Baptist Girl’s School, had to move to the Ibara side of Abeokuta town to have adequate quarters. Taiwo, with the other mission boys, had to switch schools again and go to Ago-Owu Baptist Day School, Abeokuta, where he completed his standard four primary education in 1915. He took and passed the entrance examination to the Baptist Academy and was admitted to the school in Ogbomoso in 1916 under the leadership of Rev. A. Scott Patterson.
At the end of two successful years, he was admitted to Baptist Theological Seminary, Shaki, that soon moved to Ogbomoso. He did well in the two year course and graduated in 1920.
Now, earlier in 1919, while still as a student in the Theological Seminary at Ogbomoso, Taiwo had fallen in love with an Ogbomoso girl named Alice Jolade Ojo. After about two years of courtship, they were married by Rev. Samuel George Pinnock in the Baptist Church, Ijaye, Abeokuta, in March 1921. The marriage was blessed with five children. At the time of writing (2007), one of them, Mrs. Abigail Adenike Akinola, has passed on.
His first station after graduation was the Ago-Owu Baptist Day School, Taiwo’s alma mater. He taught for two years in the school and was transferred to Aiyetoro Egbado to relieve Mr. Adewale but he was recalled and asked to transfer back to Ago-Owu early in 1923. He was given the increased responsibility of becoming headmaster of the school–a position he held for nine years.
By the latter part of 1931, he received a divine call to become a gospel minister. Sponsored by the first Baptist Church, Ishokun, Oyo, he left his family in Abeokuta and returned to the seminary in Ogbomoso for a year refresher course with two of his colleagues, J. A. Lawoyin and E. A. Atilade. When the course finished in 1932 he came out triumphant with his friends and classmates. Taiwo became the pastor of the first Baptist Church in Ishokun, Oyo, on the first day of January 1933.
Taiwo started with a meager congregation of about 120 members, thirty of whom were out of good standing with the church (according to local history).
As an ambitious minister, he desired to build a bigger and more modern church and presented the idea to the few supporting members he had. They decided to support the initiative both morally and financially. The work of building the new church took roughly three years to complete. The dedication of the church and Taiwo’s ordination into full gospel ministry–two important occasions!–were both celebrated on July 10, 1938. Membership in the church now started to increase from year to year.
Outstation churches were opened between 1939 and 1952 and maintained by the First Baptist Church, Ishokun, Oyo. Some of these outstation churches are Aderibigbe Baptist Church, Jagun Baptist Church, Alawusa Baptist Church, Elere Baptist Church, Oluwatedo Baptist Church, Iwo-Ate Baptist Church, Owu-Ile Baptist Church, Ife-Odan Baptist Church, Imeleke Baptist Church, Iware town Baptist Church, Alagbon Pinnock Memorial Baptist Church, and Igboro Baptist Church. The foundation stone of the Agboye Baptist Church, Oyo, was laid by Taiwo on March 3, 1947.
All the churches founded through Taiwo were organized and connected through the Oyo Baptist Association, which later developed into the Oyo South and North Baptist Associations.
The first deacons were ordained on February 4, 1951. The second group of deacons was ordained on October 11, 1953. The church deacons were: Stephen Oye Ige, Timothy B. Falodun, Joseph Oyawole, J. B. P. Lafinhan, T. A. Okanla, and deaconess Alice J. Taiwo, the wife of Joseph Taiwo.
In recognition of his selfless and meritorious services, Taiwo was honored with a coronation medal in 1953 by Her Majesty, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II. He was also locally honored with the chieftaincy title of the Otun Balogun of Oyo on July 23, 1957, by His Highness, the Alaafin of Oyo, C. M. G. Ladigbolu II.
Taiwo was an energetic and conscientious preacher, and a truth speaker. He was tolerant and patient, simple and easily accessible, cooperative and sympathetic.  He was an experienced old man with judicious and spiritual abilities to control and impress congregations.
Taiwo retired from ministry on December 31, 1963, after thirty-one years of meritorious service. He died on September 21, 1965, after a brief illness at the age of seventy-two and was buried on September 23, 1965.
P. A. Ojebode
- According to Owoade.
A. A. Owoade in “Farewell Service in Honor of Rev. J. A. Taiwo, Retirement from the Pastorate of the Church between 1st January 1933 and 31st December 1963,” pp. 14 - 17.
F. A. A. Taiwo, Taiwo’s eldest son, civil engineer, about 75 years old, interviewed at Oyo, December 2006.
T. O. Ogundare, a deacon at First Baptist Church, Oyo, and retired principal, interviewed on December 20, 2006 at Oyo.
T. O. Ogundare (ed.), A History of the First Baptist Church, Isokun, Oyo. 1858 - 1992 (Ibadan: Vantage Publishers, 1993), pp. 36 - 41.
This article, received in 2007, was researched and written by P. A. Ojebode, at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Deji Ayegboyin, DACB liaison coordinator.