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Bishop Ajayi Crowther and the Queen's Death Bishop Ajayi Crowther and the Queen's Death
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2022-09-18 08:52:54
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Bishop Ajayi Crowther and the Queen's Death
By Tunde Akande

Ordinarily, Bishop Ajayi Crowther, the Osogun-born first African Anglican bishop should be more known in Nigeria than Elizabeth 11, the Queen of England who passed away recently. But when Queen Elizabeth passed away which without plan coincided almost with the 150th remembrance of the death of our Ajayi Crowther, Queen Elizabeth was more remembered and mourned than our Ajayi Crowther. Elizabeth 11 was more in the heart of Nigerians not for any significant good she did to the nation but for the slavery mentality that colonialism has inflicted on our psyche. The death of the Queen split the nation into two, a part took sides with her, and another part thought she didn't deserve to be mourned. But nobody except Britain which afflicted us with that second fiddle mentality and is still oppressing us even though we claim independence, which is 63 years old now, remembered our dear Bishop Ajayi Crowder when it remembered the 150th year of the death of Ajayi Crowther and also choose the occasion to apologize for the evil she did to him.

I don't know if the Nigerian Anglican Communion had any remembrance for him, I'm not an Anglican and I'm yet to see any news of any remembrance but I saw that the Church of England which is Anglican apologised to this honourable servant of God 150 years after he died. That was my own first contact with any knowledge that Ajayi suffered great racial discrimination in Britain. Despite his brilliance, he attended Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone and Oxford University, and his great zeal and performance in evangelism, he was thought unfit to be ordained as a bishop because "Africans are savages unworthy of any such responsibility and honour." Samuel Ajayi Crowther prevailed and was ordained a bishop in 1864, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Longley, and he was also awarded the Doctor of Divinity of Oxford College.

In spite of his sterling performance, he translated the Bible into Yoruba and worked and organized very hard, his traducers will not give up. It can be safely asked whether the Church of England are actually disciples of Christ due to the fact that racism runs deep among the clergy and the laity. Soon his enemies started to wage war against him by systematically dismantling Bishop Crowther's ministry through financial control by younger white clergymen. They dismissed his African staff and posted some of them to far-flung places. As a result, Ajayi was forced to resign. Resigned? Yes, that's true of the great bishop to whom over 70 million Nigerians today owe their faith. Ajayi became despondent and in that condition suffered a stroke on December 31, 1869.

That is the man hypocritical Britain remembered recently coinciding with the passing of their Queen when the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, literally the pastor of Britain said, "We in the Church of England need to say sorry that someone was properly and rightly consecrated Bishop, then betrayed and let down and undermined. It was wrong.” How deep and true is this penitence? It is doubtful Britain will ever truly repent of its usual way of hypocrisy and racism. Since the death of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and before and after the independence of Nigeria, Britain has done worse evil in the country. The Nigerian Anglican Communion which Bishop Ajayi Crowther founded has partially severed its relationship with the Church of England over its recognition of gay and lesbian marriage and the deceitful way it bulldozed its way through treating African Anglicans as adjuncts in the decision-making process. I told a bishop of the Church in Ibadan that the severance must be total.

While the Church of England was giving a hypocritical apology to Nigeria’s Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Uju Anya, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States of America was venting her anger when during the illness of the Queen, she wished her "excruciating pain.” Uju was born to a Trinidadian mother and a Nigerian father of Igbo extraction. Soon after Uju's father took another wife, Uju's mother fled to America with her children. Uju also had a bitter experience of Nigeria's tragic three-year civil war the effect of which, she said, shaped her life. Uju felt she would not forgive the Queen and Britain for helping Nigeria win that war by supplying ammunition which helped defeat Biafra. After all, Israel will not forgive Germany for the Holocaust. Queen Elizabeth’s death opened the wound inflicted on Nigeria and Uju's comment revealed the deep division that is still in Nigeria and a veritable obstacle to her progress.

Young Nigerian and son of Nasir El Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, Basir El-Rufai replied on his Twitter account that he was grateful to the Queen and Britain for placing the North, which is his own part of the country at the peak of power in Nigeria at independence. Uju's evil is Basir's good. Thereafter massive responses followed each response reflecting either Uju's evil or Basir's good depending on which part of the country the person is from. It shows that though the civil war ended as far back as 1971, it remains alive in the hearts of Nigerians even those that were not born like Basir Rufai during the civil war period. It is unfortunate. Basir Rufai trained abroad because his father happens to be one of the privileged Nigerian political class who has money to train their children abroad. How come the western way of life and education to which Basir was exposed abundantly did not influence and change his worldview? Basir reflected perfectly the views of Ahmadu Bello, the premier of the defunct Northern Region and the political head of the North while Uju's tough response is not different from that of the Biafran warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who must have Biafra at all costs.

Nigerians are still as divided, and some say, even more so today as they were during the war. Britain will never change as it will always be guided by its own enlightened self-interest. If Uju Anya blamed the Queen and Britain, she needs to say something about France because France supported Biafra. If Basir thanked the Queen and Britain for placing the North at the peak of power at independence, he must thank his stars that his father has been privileged to be among the rich class, trained freely from the taxpayers’ money of the north, otherwise he would have been one of the bandits, a neglected tribe of millions of northerners who were abandoned by the political class and elites and left on the streets to beg or in the thick forest to herd cattle. It is obvious that Uju's anger or Basir's appreciation cannot solve our nation's problems. Nobody can drive successfully looking in the rear mirror. Our car, Nigeria is heading to another accident in the hand of the current driver Muhammadu Buhari. Except something drastic happens with Buhari's driving style and, also, Nigerians shun the tendency towards unforgiveness about the past, the country may soon hit the rocks again. The current pack of presidential contenders offer no hope, except perhaps Peter Obi of Labour Party who is yet to say anything about restructuring, without which there will be no peace and progress in the country.

Is it not interesting that the same Britain that Uju took to the cleaners is the same place from which Nnamdi Kanu launched his agitation for Biafran independence? Also, is it not intriguing that it is the same Britain and the United Nations Organization, UNO, firmly in the hands of these colonizers that the Odua nation agitators go to every time asking for support to leave the Nigerian federation? We are myopic because it will never happen, and we don't seem to realize that. It won't happen because these nations or any foreign nation will never support our interests. They mind their own interest. Based on its own interest, Britain supported Gowon in the war because it will provide the opportunity to dominate our oil, the same for France in its support of Biafra because of the same oil. Now the oil has been wasted and we are left with insurgency, banditry, poverty and an economic quagmire. We must reset, forgive and forget the past, hence it is important for us to heal and build a nation anchored on justice, equity, fairness and competence. We must halt all forms of reward for complacency and indolence. There is no part of the nation that is not gifted with brilliant and competent men and women. We must build a nation big enough to contain all of them. Britain is not a match for China today, yet she colonized China.


Tunde Akande is both a journalist and pastor. He earned a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.

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