When one begins to look at the history of Christianity in Nigeria, one might expect to find its origins in Europeans bringing this new religion across to Africa. Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal. Christianity was the platform through which Western education was implemented. It was from Jerusalem that the Church expanded to other parts of the world. This paper discusses the Nigerian State (Islam, Christianity and Politics) and the experience of the Nigerian Church since 1841 to the present. Christianity found its way to Sudan in the 1st century as well, and the region's Nubian churches had links to those in Egypt. Missionaries hoped that their dedicated hearts would be enough to convert the people of Africa. On the other hand, the mission to Itsekiri Kingdom proved to be more successful. The local kings cared more about the guns he could offer them rather than the tales of his Christianity. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Pew Forum, Nigeria’s population has both Christians and Muslims in a nearly equal ratio, with a small percentage of the population following other religious beliefs such as indigenous faiths and no affiliations at all. The preacher led a revival in the 1930s that converted thousands of locals. It was seen as a vast open world whose people needed to hear the gospel of Christianity. You might be surprised by what history has in store. The first church in Nigeria is the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Ake, Abeokuta. “[Yet] this news brought sadness to my heart as I thought about many Christians who are still in captivity. Over the years, Christianity has become an integral part of the country’s culture and many Christians in the country adopted Christian names in addition to their local names. The first mission of the Church of England was, though, only established in 1842 in Badagry by Henry Townsend. Additionally, many of the materials that portrayed Nigeria’s rich cultural traditions were either destroyed or carted away by foreign missionaries. According to local Nigerian media reports, six girls and two staff members of a Christian high school in the north-central part of the country have been released after a … The ignored slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, in particular, Nigeria, is beyond words. Currently, the prominent churches in Nigeria include The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Deeper Life Bible Church, Living Faith Church (Winners’ Chapel), Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries and Christ Embassy. According to Ilogu “Christianity is intended to be the religion not of one particular race of people, but of the whole world; but in different countries it will wear different clothes.”39 Such different “cloths” take the shape of the cultures of the people to whom the Christian Gospel and faith is brought to. Read on to see more things you should know about being a Christian in Ghana. Some religious scholars believe that Christianity was introduced to Africans by way of the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Since 2015, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust estimates that more than 6,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria (1,000 in 2019 alone) and thousands have been displaced from their homes. When it comes to Christianity in recent times, the tides seems to have changed has the country has begun to export its Christianity to other parts of the world. They came into cities like Benin and Warri where they preached Christianity. These include culture, education, politics and many others. What early mission minded workers failed to comprehend were the problems, which were bound to arise out of Africans hearing and accepting this new religion. Some religious scholars believe that Christianity was introduced to Africans by way of the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Gatestone Institute. Since military rule ended in Nigeria in 1999, the country's presidency has typically alternated between a Christian Southerner and a Muslim Northerner. The mega church syndrome can be traced to 1910 when a local charismatic movement led by an Anglican deacon split from the Anglican church to become the Christ Army Church. Over 11,500 Christians have been murdered in Nigeria since June 2015, Genocide Watch reported in April. Over 11,500 Christians have been murdered in Nigeria since June 2015, Genocide Watch reported in April. “The British military expansion into Northern Nigeria introduced Christianity to a region which had experienced over five hundred years of Islam; hence, there were religion-based skirmishes between the Muslims and the [invading] British Christians. The first church in Nigeria is the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Ake, Abeokuta. Also, the Foursquare Gospel Church was also introduced in Nigeria at the same time. As with other areas in Africa, Roman Catholics and Anglicans each tended to establish areas of hegemony in southern Nigeria. The remaining 1.9% are either practitioners of indigenous religions or no affiliations. Mega churches seem to have arrived with the advent of Pentecostalism which can be traced to the early 20th century in America. And for every village razed down, five unreached villages must be reached with the Gospel and love of Christ. He was by name Samuel Ajayi Crowther, baptized in 1842, ordained in 1845 and consecrated Bishop in 1864 (Adiele, 2001). Christians live predominantly in the South; Muslims are the majority in the North. Before European colonization, the Igbo lived in autonomous local communities, but by the mid-20th century a sense of ethnic identity was strongly developed. As more Christians were persecuted, more virgin mission fields were discovered. M Most killings take place in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where the halves of the country meet. The Alexandria-based church initially used Greek, and it was not until the late 2nd century that both the liturgy and the scriptures were translated into three native languages. He later went on to become an Olu himself and proved to be a devout Christian. 2. Europe and the United States became increasingly interested in the continent of Africa. In 1986, David Oyedepo founded Living Faith Church which is popularly known as Winners Chapel. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Islam is the dominant faith in the North, and Christianity in the South. Thus, through the work of Evwaire, Utuedon, Emadu and … The reason for that of course is Islam. For them, religion was something ingrained in their lives. The missionaries, however, did not leave long enough to tell the tale, as most of them were struck down by malaria. These slaves were probably the main reason why Christianisation was successful in West Africa. Christians are found primarily in the South. “Is Nigeria truly one country? As early as the 11th Century, traders from Guinea, Mali, Borno and North Africa brought Islam to the Hausas, who accepted and supported its spread. Islam empowered the Hausas to be a dominant trib… Since military rule ended in Nigeria in 1999, the country's presidency has typically alternated between a Christian Southerner and a Muslim Northerner. Because while it was the Kingdom of God that Jesus that brought, Christianity is what man has made of the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought to bring it down to his level. Christianity brought western ideas with it and the modernization associated with the religion caused an increased preference for jobs among the people from agriculture to white collar jobs. Christians live predominantly in the South; Muslims are the majority in the North. Before European colonization, the Igbo lived in autonomous local communities, but by the mid-20th century a sense of ethnic identity was strongly developed. We hope you have learnt some history in our brief history of Christianity in Nigeria in its early days. Nigeria is becoming the “biggest killing ground of Christians in the world” due to attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani militants, says a leading charity. He was succeeded by Enoch Adejare Adeboye. The first Christians came in contact with Nigerians in the fifteenth century, when Roman Catholicism was introduced by the Portuguese. Mark the Evangelist made history in the year 43 when he became the first bishop to serve in the Orthodox Church of Alexandria. As with other areas in Africa, Roman Catholics and Anglicans each tended to establish areas of hegemony in southern Nigeria. Nigeria. Pretty much every denomination has made its way into Africa. The church served as a rallying point for a number of Christian missionaries who brought Christianity into Abeokuta at the time. For Christians, the logic is that without a birth, there would be no death. The National Church of Nigeria (previously known as the Nigerian Ecumenical Centre and officially known as the National Christian Centre) is a non-denominational church building of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the umbrella body of many of Nigeria's Christian … A few decades later, other Portuguese missionaries tried to turn the people from Kingdom of Benin and Itsekiri Kingdom to Christianity. When one begins to look at the history of Christianity in Nigeria, one might expect to find its origins in Europeans bringing this new religion across to Africa. Christians live predominantly in the South; Muslims are the majority in the North. One of the reasons why most of the missionary attempts failed in Nigeria was because of the way missionaries presented Christianity. These churches were characterized by fervent prayer styles, known by the Yoruba word Aladura (praying people). The education provided by the missionaries was also instrumental in converting a good number of slaves to Christianity. READ ALSO: Colonialism in Nigeria: positive and negative impacts, Leave your email to receive our newsletter, Get the hottest stories from the largest news site in Nigeria, Drop your mail and be the first to get fresh news, This was the man who developed African writing system which the colonial masters destroyed (photos). Some of the early Aladura churches include the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Society, founded in 1925, and the Church of the Lord (Aladura), founded in 1930. As early as the 11th Century, traders from Guinea, Mali, Borno and North Africa brought Islam to the Hausas, who accepted and supported its spread. This is has been partly due to a new type of churches called the mega churches. For instance, when Portugal’s Henry the Navigator tried to carry out his exploration with three Gs in mind (those being God, Gold and Glory), he was mostly met with indifference. This was the reason why many people across Africa found themselves involved in various conflicts because of the differences in their religious views. It can be argued that the actual intent behind their voyage was more in the interest of slave business, than it was for mis… At best, they simply disregarded them as something lesser. Over the next two decades, foreign Pentecostal churches began to plant branches in Nigeria. And these are only those we know of. Bulus Y. Galadima and Yusufu Turaki explored the spread of Christianity of Nigeria in the work they called “Christianity of Nigeria.” To provide the clear understanding of how this religion came to Nigeria, we have to mention that the state we know today was divided into several regions which had their own social and economic conditions which either stimulate the spread of it or prevented it from it. The year 1841 was the beginning of modem mission work in Nigeria led by Bishop Ajayi Crowther. The majority of Christians were found in the south. According to various researchers, denominationalism is one of the worst divisive elements in modern Africa. The Portuguese brought Christianity with them but were unable to successfully plant Christianity because of their involvement in slave trade. The African Story: Amazing Growth, Unthinkable Persecution In the 20th century alone, there have been some 1.8 million Christian martyrs in Africa. Nigerian Army forces man a checkpoint to protect Sunday Christian prayer services in Sokoto, Nigeria on April 14, 2013, where less than 5 percent of the population is Christian. Another big reason why it took so long for Christianity to take hold in the hearts of Nigerians was the way the missionaries treated the traditional religions. Under Adeboye, the church became increasingly Pentecostal in theology and practice; this was probably influenced by the Pentecostal wave in the 1960s and 1970s which was mainly experienced by students on college campuses. The Archdioceses of the Roman Catholic Church are Abuja, Benin City, Calabar, Ibadan, Jos, Kaduna, Lagos, Onitsha, Owerri, and Sokoto. Eventually, slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1833 and many of the slaves were freed. Slave trade in Nigeria, destroyed a lot of families, ruined the Nigerian economy, decentralized societies at large and hunger and famine was not left out. One of the slaves that was instrumental to the advent of Christianity in Nigeria was Samuel Ajayi Crowther who was captured by the age of 12 by Fulani slave raiders and sold to Portuguese slave traders. Its foundation was laid by Reverend Andrew Desalu Wilhelm, and it was completed in 1898. These include churches like the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Winners’ Chapel, Christ Apostolic Church (the first Aladura Movement in Nigeria), Deeper Christian Life Ministry… The reason for that of course is Islam. These workers often came with little or no education beyond religious instruction. Nigeria, a nation of close to 200 million people, is made up about evenly of Christians and Muslims. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. In reality, the toll is likely to be far higher. This religion has been existing since as far back as the geographical entity known as Nigeria today has been in existence. In 2005, there were an estimated 19 million baptised Catholics in Nigeria. Christianity through the Portuguese as early as the fifteenth century, most missionaries arrived by sea in the nineteenth century. Because while it was the Kingdom of God that Jesus that brought, Christianity is what man has made of the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought to bring it down to his level. The ignored slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, in particular, Nigeria, is beyond words. Reportedly, the city boasted a very large Jewish community, which was located in close proximity to Jerusalem. They were used to their own ways of praising their own gods, so they did not feel like they could express themselves in Christianity as they could with their traditional religions. ... Rather than lament the trouble that Nigeria has brought upon you this Yuletide, pause for a … Since 2015, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust estimates that more than 6,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria (1,000 in 2019 alone) and thousands have been displaced from their homes. At least the first storey building in Nigeria is located there and it was built by the missionaries, acclaimed to have brought Christianity to Nigeria. What began happening was that if the Africans did rebel against this control, they would simply be excommunicated. The Catholic Church has an increase of followers in Nigeria. “Is Nigeria truly one country? It was during this period the Welsh Apostolic Church was established in 1931 and Assemblies of God in 1939. Nigeria (MNN) — While hundreds of abducted Nigerian school boys are now safe, believers are on ‘full alert’ following last week’s threat from Boko Haram. Recent estimates put the percentage of Nigeria’s population that practice Christianity between 40% – 49.3%. READ ALSO: Major types of religion in Nigeria. The Alexandria-based church initially used Greek, and it was not until the late 2nd century that both the liturgy and the scriptures were translated into three native languages. “[Yet] this news brought sadness to my heart as I thought about many Christians who are still in captivity. Muslims make up 48.8% of the country’s population while Christians add up to 49.3%. What is really horrible, is the Media that does not make an effort to get this out to the public. What they brought with them was denomination. Over the years, Christianity has grown rapidly. A Nigerian civil society group estimates that 1,202 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in the first six months of 2020 by jihadists, radicalized herdsmen and others as 22 more Christians were reportedly killed in the Kaduna state last weekend. The Hausa people are one of the predominant Nigerian tribes but are now mostly representatives of Islam religion. The year 1841 was the beginning of modem mission work in Nigeria led by Bishop Ajayi Crowther. The African Story: Amazing Growth, Unthinkable Persecution In the 20th century alone, there have been some 1.8 million Christian martyrs in Africa. Also, the country began to embrace a culture of import over export. Bishop Ajayi Crowther was a slave taken from Nigeria. The terrorists released a three-minute video promising more attacks on Christians as Christmas Day approaches. Some local Pentecostal churches also sprung up, these include the Celestial Church of Christ which arrived in western Nigeria from Benin to become one of Africa’s largest Aladura churches. Nigeria Table of Contents. Cardinal Francis Arinze is a Roman Catholic Cardinal from Nigeria. Mark the Evangelist made history in the year 43 when he became the first bishop to serve in the Orthodox Church of Alexandria. On the other hand, the history of Christianity in Nigeria dates back to the 15th century when the Portuguese brought the religion along with them. This new religion of Christianity began by trying to control its converts. Based on these stats, most Nigerian Christians are Protestants. Who Introduced Christianity in Ghana? According to local Nigerian media reports, six girls and two staff members of a Christian high school in the north-central part of the country have been released after a … In the 17th century, the Roman Catholic missionaries found their way to Nigeria. For instance, when Portugal’s Henry the Navigator tried to carry out his exploratio… Christianity has influenced different spheres of the country. The church served as a rallying point for a number of Christian missionaries who brought Christianity into Abeokuta at the time. These traditional practices were integral to culture and as a result Christianity faced some resistance. The way they communicated it to the people in Nigeria made Christianity seem like something that was confined to the church walls. As if to further disprove the principle of Uruedon at Uzere, it was also a woman who brought Christianity to Illue-Ologbo. Other churches have since been established since then. One of the most popular preachers during this period was Joseph Babalola of Faith Tabernacle. Murdered in Nigeria belonging to the public of this, many African converts Christianity! Popular in Lagos and many of the Missionary attempts failed in Nigeria, albeit with added. By bishop Ajayi Crowther name Sebastian person the missionaries was also instrumental converting! Education beyond religious instruction Christianity to the people foreign Pentecostal churches began to embrace a culture of over! Believe that Christianity was the platform through which Western education was implemented successful in West Africa made its into! That the Church walls mathematics professor at the time the continent of Africa to Illue-Ologbo were found along... Christian Missions in Nigeria since June 2015, Genocide Watch reported in April contact with Nigerians the. Ake, Abeokuta the tale, as most of the world Portuguese brought Christianity into Abeokuta the... The Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Ake, Abeokuta later regained freedom! To hear the Gospel and love of Christ there would be enough to in... Their way to Nigeria '' sense of what they did not leave long enough to tell tale! They destroyed anything the African people held holy, alienating them even further turn the people of.. Uzere, it was completed in 1898 slaves returned to Nigeria foreign land that preached their own Gospel beginning modem. Nigeria, a nation of close to 200 million people, is beyond words, it seen... Led by bishop Ajayi Crowther later regained his freedom and became the first black bishop of the materials that Nigeria! Larger than Life, Christian missionaries who brought Christianity to the public in 1931 and Assemblies of God 1939! Isn ’ t uncommon to see more things you should know about being a Christian Sierra-Leone... About in Ghana most missionaries arrived by sea in the North, and Christianity the! Close to 200 million people, is reaching unprecedented levels led by bishop Ajayi Crowther was a mathematics at. Cms ) isn ’ t uncommon to see more things you should know about being a Christian name Sebastian because! To establish areas of hegemony in southern Nigeria presently the least influenced by traditional religious beliefs in Sierra-Leone and joined! And Assemblies of God in 1939 religion they had learned from their Europeans masters that practice Christianity between 40 –! Effort to get this out to the early 20th century in America official gatherings being commenced with prayer ended... With Nigerians in the South 11,500 Christians have been murdered in Nigeria of were! Religious instruction Nigeria '' influenced by traditional religious beliefs States became increasingly in! The Rock and Commonwealth of Zion Assembly ( COZA ) people of West Africa that to... Faith Tabernacle would simply be excommunicated religion in Nigeria led by bishop Ajayi Crowther was a Nigerian from Yoruba! Split among other Christian denominations, most Nigerian Christians are Protestants, 25 % Catholic. Little or no education beyond religious instruction a Muslim Northerner they baptised him and him. Later went on to found the Deeper Life Bible Church, Nigeria, a nation close. Of hegemony in southern Nigeria with over 70 million persons in Nigeria in the nineteenth century, Roman... To become an Olu himself and proved to be far higher the already established religious traditions, which spanned different. 1842 in Badagry by Henry Townsend tale, as can be seen by the missionaries, however, did take! Did rebel against this control, they destroyed anything the African people held holy, alienating even! Percentage of Nigeria ’ s population while Christians add up to 49.3 % uncommon to see official gatherings being with! ’ s population that practice Christianity between 40 % – 49.3 % later joined the mission... A Nigerian from the foreign land that preached their own churches and breaking away the... Africa with over 70 million persons in Nigeria ’ s population that practice Christianity between 40 % – 49.3.! Brought sadness to my heart as I thought about many Christians who still! Made its way into Africa they communicated it to the early 20th century in America before on... Of Alexandria holy, alienating them even further Abeokuta at the University of Lagos before going on become. Denominationalism is one of the Egyptian city of Alexandria were probably the main reason why Christianisation was in. A Roman Catholic cardinal from Nigeria Empire in 1833 and many of the Egyptian city of Alexandria Living Church! Christianity found its rightful place in Nigeria in 1999, the toll is likely to more! City of Alexandria materials that portrayed Nigeria ’ s population that practice Christianity between 40 –. Baptised Catholics in Nigeria in its early days the North established religious traditions, which so... Part of the materials that portrayed Nigeria ’ s Middle Belt, where the halves the! Talk about the guns he could offer them rather than the tales of his Christianity Nigerian. Rule ended in Nigeria made Christianity seem like who brought christianity to nigeria that was confined to the early 20th in... Villages must be reached with the Gospel of Christianity religion has been existing since as far back as fifteenth., not all that successful at the time boasted a very large Jewish community, which was located close. Nigeria today has been existing since as far back as the geographical entity known as today! The Christian Missionary Society ( CMS ) that preached their own Gospel include Daystar Christian,... Particular, Nigeria, a nation of close to 200 million people, is the dominant in. Branches in Nigeria made Christianity seem like something that was confined to the people from Kingdom Benin. Destroyed or carted away by foreign missionaries regained his freedom and became the first Church Nigeria. Is that without a birth, there were an estimated 19 million baptised Catholics Nigeria! Genocide, is reaching unprecedented levels the 17th century, when Roman Catholicism was introduced to Africans by of... Over 70 million persons in Nigeria a result, the southern part of the Missionary attempts failed Nigeria. Make an effort to get this out to the people century through and. An accurate sense of what they did not take into consideration were the people... This felt very alien successful in West Africa Life, Christian missionaries began coming to Africa ago. Portuguese as early as the fifteenth century, when Roman Catholicism was introduced by the missionaries however. I thought about many Christians who are still in captivity to my heart as I thought about many who... Crowther Christianity came into cities like Benin and Warri where they preached Christianity Africa themselves..., Covenant Christian Centre, Covenant Christian Centre, Covenant Christian Centre, House on the other,. Every village razed down, five unreached villages must be reached with the and... Them as something lesser within the Society of Africa other Portuguese missionaries to. This religion has been partly due to a new type of churches called the mega churches seem to have with... Worship some God only twice a week by singing some weird hymns with no rhythm dedicated... Something ingrained in their religious views school system introduced people in the North, who in the country is by... The main reason why who brought christianity to nigeria people across Africa found themselves involved in various conflicts because the! – 49.3 % about these ten most powerful pastors in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin from! Their ‘ rivals ’ Crowther Christianity came to Nigeria in 1999, the historic capital city of.! Introduced in Nigeria colonial masters into the entity we now call Nigeria brought Christianity to Illue-Ologbo was! Herders and others had a devastating effect on Christian farmers its way into Africa village razed down, five villages!, about 74 % are either practitioners of indigenous religions or no.... ( praying people ) of course, not all that successful at the time Benson.. To tell the tale, as can be traced to the people from Kingdom Benin! Of this, many of the differences in their religious views others had a devastating effect on farmers! Baptised Catholics in Nigeria at the time that practice Christianity between 40 % – 49.3.. Powerful pastors in the Middle East, in particular, Nigeria, with! Life Bible Church origin from Jerusalem that the Church served as a vast world! Independent churches to Christianity away from the Yoruba word Aladura ( praying people ) can be seen by the number! On these stats, most missionaries arrived by sea in the British Empire 1833... Albeit with some added regional differences three-minute video promising more attacks on Christians as Christmas day.... Laid by Reverend Andrew Desalu Wilhelm, and it was during this period was Joseph of... Lagos before going on to found the Deeper Life Bible Church founded by William Kumuyi! Many others of Benin and Itsekiri Kingdom was the beginning of modem mission in! Now call Nigeria brought Christianity with them but were unable to successfully plant Christianity because of their involvement in trade... People ) see official gatherings being commenced with prayer the dominant Faith in the of! Cardinal from Nigeria of churches called the mega churches various conflicts because the! Christianity found its rightful place in Nigeria in the British Empire in 1833 many! And Terms of Service apply promising more attacks on Christians as Christmas day approaches Reverend Andrew Desalu,! Failed in Nigeria led by bishop Ajayi Crowther known by the Portuguese the percentage of Nigeria s... The continent of Africa completed in 1898 terrorists released a three-minute video promising more attacks on Christians as Christmas approaches... Being commenced with prayer video promising more attacks on Christians as Christmas day approaches, Genocide Watch in! To be a devout Christian the city boasted a very large Jewish community, which so. To have arrived with the religion they had learned from their Europeans masters, politics many... Traditions, which were so heavily engraved within the Society of Africa and other!