History of the first church in Nigeria and how it was established by Andrew Desalu Wilhelm the freed slave (photos)
Have you ever thought about how Christianity came into Nigeria? History claims the religion was brought into the country in the sixteenth century by missionaries from Portuguese but it was not really practiced because there were no churches until the first one was establish in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
The first church built in Nigeria, The Cathedral Church of ST. Peter, was established by Andrew Desalu Wilhelm and it was later perfected by a British man, Reverend Henry Townsend.
On arriving in Nigeria, Reverend Townsend had come to Abeokuta through Badagry. It was said that he was received by an Egba warrior named Chief Sodeke. Sodeke who was unable to speak English, had gotten Andrew Desalu who was a freed slave as an interpreter to help him communicate with the British Reverend.
Desalu who was a teacher, catechist and evangelist was educated by the British when he was a slave. He was an Egba man captured with other slaves by colonial masters but he was later freed and he settled in Sierra Leone before moving back to Ogun state.
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After his return to Abeokuta, he started to rally freed slaves and he built a shelter he named Wasinmi (Come and rest) for them. He began to preach the gospel of Christianity.
When Townsend returned to England for church ordination, Desalu stayed back to continue to preach the gospel and he built a shed that became the first foundation of The Cathedral Church of ST. Peter, Ake.
From 1842 to 1846, Desalu preached around Abeokuta rallying freed slaves to give them a place to stay and tell them about Christ. He became a spiritual father to many people but the shed could not be dedicated and members could not be baptised due to the absence of a priest.
Photo source: Pulse.ng/Proudly Yoruba
In 1846, Townsend returned to Abeokuta with a group of missionary pioneers who helped him complete the church on September 6, 1898, 52 years after the foundation was built. The first Mass was celebrated in the church on June 29, 1880.
Although, a bigger auditorium has been built, the original structure is still intact and a statue of Reverend Townsend was also erected as a tourist site.
Photo source: KTravula.com
Andrew Desalu Wilhelm, the freed slave who established the foundation of the first church in Nigeria, was born in 1820 and he died in 1866.
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