Samuel Ajayi Crowther: Former Slave who Became Anglican Bishop and First Translated Bible to Yoruba

Samuel Ajayi Crowther: Former Slave who Became Anglican Bishop and First Translated Bible to Yoruba

That the Bible can be read in one of the three major languages in Nigeria - Yoruba - is all thanks to one man's unquantifiable efforts. His name is Samuel Ajayi Crowther.

The Sierra Leonean-Nigerian's story is one of a kidnapped boy who was sold into slavery but eventually made his mark on the African continent before his demise.

Remembering Samuel Ajayi Crowther: Man who first translated Bible to Yoruba
His journey into slave trade began at the age of 12 Photo Credit: Historical Pictures Archive, Black History Month
Source: Getty Images

Samuel as a slave

A Britannica encyclopaedia report indicates that Ajayi was kidnapped at the age of 12. It is said that he was kidnapped along with his family and entire village by Fulani slave raiders in March 1821 and sold to Portuguese slave traders.

His father, Ayemi, is reported to have been killed during the raid that transpired in his village in Akinwumi-Osogun community of Oyo state.

PAY ATTENTION: Join Telegram channel! Never miss important updates!

Read also

Tragedy as bandits kill ECWA pastor after collecting ransom, abduct eight in Kaduna

Fortunately for him, their slave ship was boarded by a crew from a British Royal Navy ship under the command of Captain Henry Leeke who ensured the freedom of all the captives.

Ajayi and his family were then moved to Freetown, Sierra Leone where they picked up what's left of their early life and started again.

In Sierra Leone, he was cared for by the Anglican church missionaries who were also responsible for teaching him the English language.

Ajayi eventually converted to Christianity on December 11, 1825, and was baptized by John Raban.

He got his name from Samuel Crowther who was the vicar of Christ Church, Newgate, London and one of the pioneers of the Church Mission Society (C.M.S).

His marital life

Ajayi was said to have tied the knot with a schoolmistress named Asano who was also rescued from the same Portuguese slave traders who were going to sell him.

Read also

What caused Kolade Johnson's death? Get detailed information on this

Black History Month reports that Asano was formerly a Muslim and changed her name to Susan after her conversion to Christianity and baptism. It is reported that their marriage happened between 1828 and 1841.

Like Ajayi, his wife was also brought up and cared for by the church mission in Sierra Leone.

Their union produced offspring who also contributed their parts in shaping Africa's history.

One of their recorded children, Dandeson Coates Crowther went on to become the archdeacon of the Niger Delta. Herbert Macaulay, his grandson, is one of Nigeria's first nationalists.

Some of his achievements

Apart from being credited to being the first to translate Bible to the Yoruba language, Ajayi was the first African Bishop of the Anglican church and was consecrated on St Peters day 1864 by Charles Longley, the archbishop of Canterbury at Canterbury cathedral, Black History Month reports.

Between June and December of 1864, he was given a Doctorate of Divinity by the University of Oxford.

Read also

Top facts from Dagrin biography you probably don't know

It is noteworthy that Ajayi also published the Anglican book of Common Prayer as well as a primer for the Igbo language in 1857 and a full vocabulary language book of Nupe in 1864.

Ajayi died of a stroke in Lagos on December 31, 1891, at age 82 and was buried at Ajele Cemetery in Lagos.

Merits of Herbert Macaulay

Meanwhile, previously reported about the merits of nationalist Herbert Macaulay.

Olayinka Herbert Samuel Heelas Badmus Macaulay is the full name of the well known Herbert Macaulay. He was born on the 16th of November, 1864, in Lagos that was divided politically in the 19th century into different territories.

Herbert Macaulay was not from an ordinary family. He was a grandson of Ajayi Crowther, the first African bishop. He was a pupil at the mission school of Lagos. Later, in 1881, he became a clerk at the Public Works Department in Lagos.

Read also

Herbert Macaulay's birthday today

He was acknowledged to be a promising young civil servant and in 1890 was awarded a scholarship by the government.

With the scholarship, he also got an opportunity to go study engineering in England for three years, and when he returned to Lagos, he was appointed surveyor of crown lands for the colony of Lagos.


Online view pixel