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130 Years After, Researchers Declare Bishop Ajayi Crowther A National Hero
NIGERIA’S foremost clergyman, the first African Anglican Bishop, Samuel Ajayi Crowther, deserves to be sung as a national hero, some researchers say.
Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther was a multi-linguist who translated the Holy Bible into the Yoruba language.
He was born at Osogun in present-day Ibarapa East Local Government Area of Oyo State around 1807 and died in Lagos on December 31, 1891.
His death predated Nigeria as a country.
Slave traders captured him alongside members of his family when he was 12 years old.
He was later returned to Sierra Leone.
Mr Pelumi Awofeso is one of the researchers who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday about Crowther.
He said it was imperative to look into the life and times of the cleric 130 years after his departure.
“I started the research about Bishop Crowther after I stumbled on a tweet that talked about his death.
“Looking at the date at which he died, I realised that it is a milestone to celebrate him and dig out more researches about him and his activities as a priest, educator, linguist, nationalist and a peacemaker.
“I thought it wise that something should be done in terms of having a documentary about him.
“I do not know the plans of the Anglican Communion, a church where he served as a bishop,” he said.
Awofeso said, however, that what Bishop Crowther stood for had not been fully appreciated adding that his life transcended the Bible translation to his nationalistic movement.
He said, “Bishop Crowther did not translate the entire Bible in one fell swoop when he was in Badagry, as he moved from place to place on other assignments.
“It took him about 40 years to complete the translation.
“All what he did would be exposed in the documentary and how he created national consciousness among the people he met and his impact as an evangelist,” he said.
“The team of researchers has been able to unravel more about Bishop Crowther after visiting 12 states.
“The team found that there are more than a thousand things he did which are not in the peoples’ consciousness.
“Bishop Crowther could be described as a man of passion who translated the Bible when there was no formal alphabetical order, no electricity, technology or other luxury that we enjoy these days.
“The man was able to keep his sanity in spite of the harsh condition around him; he was also a linguist of repute who could be regarded as a Professor Emeritus of languages in our time.”
Awofeso called for support for the project from Nigerians, noting that the documentary was a self-funded adventure running into millions of naira.
A co-researcher, Sesede Simeon also told NAN that Bishop Crowther was well-grounded educationally and had his education at the highest levels during his time.
“We need to attach the requisite honour to this man because he was a hero by all standards,” she said.