CHRISTIANITY IN TIV LAND: INFLUENCE AND GROWTH
To understand the ‘‘ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY IN TIVLAND’’, one must first know the origin of Christianity itself, in West Africa, Nigeria before talking on Christianity in Tivland.
Christianity is the religion that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beliefs that He is the Son of God. (Oxford Dictionary, 8th Edition, Hornby). In this chapter, we intend to look at the origin of Christianity itself, in West African, Nigeria and the Tivland. (www.Biblical Archaeology).
3.2. ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY BY ROBERT A.G.
Christianity originated from Roman Empire at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, Christianity was all about the Jewish Religion, the long lasting beliefs in the coming Messiah and rigidities that had developed in the Jewish priesthood. Christianity came from a remote province and appealed particularly to the poorer classes.
Christianity originated with Jesus Christ of Nazareth a Prophet and teacher who came as the Son of God and was regard as such by His disciples. Jesus preached in Israel during the time of Augustus the message of purification of the Jewish Religion, the establishment of God’s kingdom on Earth, the final Judgment day at hand, reward of the righteous with sinners condemn to everlasting Hell. He won many followers, mostly the poor. The upper classes and the leaders of the Jewish Religion came against because of the gospel and killed Him by Crucifixion like a common criminal.
30 A.D, Jesus followers proof Him as the Son of God and believed that he resurrected on the third day after His death, this beliefs assisted them in spreading farther message of Christ among Jewish communities in the Middle East, both within the Roman Empire and beyond .Later on, the disciples of Jesus began fan out, particularly round the East Mediterranean to spread the new Christian message. At the beginning, Christian converts were Jewish by birth and followed the basic Jewish laws; however, roused hostility among other Jews when one early Stephen was stoned to death, many disciples left Israel to Western Asia.
Christianity won a growing number of converts over 250years .On 4th Century A.D, about 10percent of the residents of the Roman Empire were Christian in the Middle East Ethiopia Christianity spread with larger themes in Roman History. The Roman Empire soon left the true way of worship and entered their selfish aims where the place of papacy and indulgence became the order of the day, and also persecution of true Christians.
In 35 A.D, Paul was converted; His conversion to Christianity proved vital, He was a Jewish but had been born in a Greek city and was familiar with Greco-Roman culture. He help explained basic Christian-beliefs in term other adherents of his Culture could grasp, and he preached in Greece and Italy as well as the Middle East. Paul essentially created Christian Theology, the Message of Jesus gradually, Christian Theological leaders made further contact with Greco-Roman intellectual life, and they developed the body of Christian writings beyond the Bible Messages written by the disciples of Jesus.
In 4th century A.D. Christian literature became the only special Cultural expressions in the Roman Empire as Theologians sought not only to explain situation in the new religion but also to relate it to Greek Philosophy and Roman Ethics and also to the world at Large.
3.2.1 ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY BY JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
Christianity Originated in Roman occupied Jerusalem, a predominantly but not entirely Jewish Society with traditional Philosophers mentioned in Acts of the Apostle. As Christianity spread throughout the Hellenic World and, with a number of Church leaders having being educated in Greek Philosophy there was a fusion of the two modes of thought. One early Christian writer of the 2nd and 3rdbCentury, Clement of Alexandria, demonstrated the assimilation of Greek thought in writing.
The influence on Christian dogma in late Antiquity, the doctrines of the Christian Church Fathers in the 4th and 5th Century, the Nicene and Caledonian creeds, the question of Trinity and Christology, Roman imperial Cult and Hellenistic Philosophy in forms of Neo-Platonism and Gnosticism, disputes went on to dominate Christian Theology well into the early Middle ages, down to the third council of Constantinople of 680A.D. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) who ultimately systematized Christian Philosophy, wrote in the late 4th and early 5th century,
‘‘But when I read those books of the Platonist, I was taught by them to seek incorporeal truth, so I saw your invisible things, understood by the things that are made’’
Augustine received Christ and became Christian from Manichaeism, a Gnostic influence Religion according to his confessions, after eight or nine years of adhering to the Manichaeism faith, he became a Christian and a potent adversary of Manichaeism.
3.2.2. ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY BY BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY
Christianity started around 40 C.E with the admission into the Church of the family of the Roman Centurion Cornelius in Caesarea (Acts 10) later came the Gentile members of the mixed Jewish Greek Church in Antioch(Acts 11:19-24) Galatians2:11-12 as well as many pagan converts of Paul in Syria, Asia Minor and Greece with them. The Jewish monopoly in the movement came to an end; Jewish and Gentile Christianity was born.
As gentile joined the Jesus movement focus on Jewish law decreased and we started to see the origin of Christianity as a distinct Religion, Jewish Christians in Jerusalem participated in separate Jewish service from the Gentile Christians population and while the two groups agreed on Jesus message and importance.
3.3. CHRISTIANITY IN WEST AFRICA 15TH CENTURY (1450-1750)
In 15th Century the Portuguese Missionaries came to West Africa and were first to introduce Christianity to West Africa under the leadership of Henry the navigator.
The Portuguese had many aims, such as Commerce, Christianity, glory, politics, more colonies but fusses in one which to them was Christianity. The Portuguese economy was depressed because the Muslims Berbers through trans-Saharan trade route controls the trading in West Africa. The Berbers get commodities like silk, pepper, spices, leather, gum, ivory, gold and sold it expensively in Europe, therefore the European had to look for solution and the only way was to take over the business from the Berbers in West Africa and stop the monopoly also stabilize their economy.
Christianity was not Portuguese core aim for their explorations because they allowed commerce took over the place of Evangelism thereby, made Christianity from the agenda. In 1482 in Elmina Gold Coast, the first Church was founded under the leadership of Don Diogo d’ Azambuja under a Mango Tree, later the Church house and castle was built and dedicated to st.George Sao Jorge da Mina, the Portuguese called their settlement centre for trading and defense.
In 1456, the Chief of Gambia was converted to Christianity but this was shorted-lived because of the unrelenting Islamic influence. In 1503, the King of Fetu Gold Coast of Ghana also converted many of his Chiefs and subjects became disciples, the Missions also collapsed. (BENUE STATE PERSPECTIVE 2OO3).
In 1485, the Portuguese Pioneer came to Benin during the leadership of Oba Ozolua both parties created diplomatic ties in trade, so, the Portuguese built their fort at Ughoton but efforts to introduced Christianity faith failed, 1514 Oba Esigie accepted Christianity into Benin and some Chiefs were baptized and Churches built, after his death, the Churches collapsed.
In 1630, French Capuchins arrived Gold Coast to convert the People to Christianity, they were succeeding and Christianity was taking over before the Portuguese forced out Capuchins following disagreement but other European Nationals like Dutch, French, Danes and English, challenged the commercial supremacy of Portugal and established their own forts in Gold coast.
In 16th Century, Christianity was introduced into Warri by Augustinian Monks from Island of Sao Tome, it was the reign of Olu and he was baptized called Sebastine. He assisted in further the work of Evangelism and still the faith did not expand but later the Missionaries converted the King Son Domingos and Don Antonio.
Evangelism in the beginning in West Africa did not stand up to the 19th Century: according to C.P. Groves.
“The Negro Chiefs, it was true that, they were dazzled by the power and magnificence of the Religion favorable in reflected light but the motive of conversion in such cases was unequal to producing in the convert any changes in life”
3.3.1. CHRISTIANITY IN WEST AFRICA 19TH CENTURY
Before 18th Century, Christianity was taken by human ideology, secular philosophy and decline, the belief for God could be known through nature or reasoning and not through Biblical Revelations such as, ‘‘a God who is in active to control his universe, God was no longer by faith but by human reasoning. Clergy were negligent and worldly.
There was a great spiritual revival that broke forth and spread to Great Britain Continental Europe and America that renewed faith in God and commitment in the lives of Christians. The revivalist were; Philip Spencer in Europe 1705, August Francke 1727,England, John Wesley 1703-1791, George Whitefield 1714-1770, John Wesley was a prominent leader of Methodist .The revival launched a new Missionary movement.
In 19th Century, the Baptist Missionary Society 1792, the Church Missionary Society 1799 and Wesley Methodist Missionary Society 1813 by which Christianity spread in West Africa.
The Clampham sect founded the anti-slavery Movement in 1785 with John Venn, Henry Thornton, and James Stephen, Granville sharp, William Wilberforce, their rector was Clampham, their actions led to the abolition of slavery throughout the Great Britain 1833.
‘‘John Wesley said slavery was not just in-human and cruel, is also sin against God and should be stop’’
The colony of sierra-Leone was founded in 1789 by the Evangelical and Humanitarian activists for the freed black poor slaves in Great Britain. The slaves were trained both in Education and Missionary work; this led to the formation of Missionary bodies that brought top West Africa to plant Christianity using Samuel Ajayi Crowther and some of his colleague. (Dauda and Gbule 2000).
3.4. CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA
In 1771-1806 Mungo Park and other discovered the course of the River Niger as vast and populous. In 1841, in togetherness of the Church, State, the Missionary J.F.Schoen from Sierra-Leone, Samuel Ajayi Crowther and many other Christians such as, Thomas King and Simon Jonas who were Nigerians work as interpreters, took Christianity to Engara and were welcome by the Ibo people with less hospitality allowed them to install elements of a model farm among them, they took a long journey during the dry season and the River did not allow the expedition to attain the Nupe People.
Thomas King was made Catechist in Engara by Schoen J.F., when they finally returned for the expedition to Fernando P.O; forty one members of the group had died, so, no further plans to develop Niger region until 1854(Falk 1921:124).
In 1839 and 1842, hundreds of slaves returned to Nigeria from sierra-Leone and felt the need for Christianity, they made their desire known to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and their request was honored.
The Methodist Church sent T.B. Freeman too Badagry and Abeokuta in September 1842,he sent message to the King of his coming to his land and the Shodeke King received him cordially but sent escort with a mount for Freeman. The King was pleased to meet with them, also accepted to stop human sacrifice but he refused slave and asked Townsend to write to the Governor of Sierra-Leone thanking him for his great work and needs Missionaries at this time and legal Merchants.
Townsend went back to Abeokuta in 1844 with Mr. and Mrs. C.A.Gollmer and Samuel Ajayi Crowtherwent to his home town after away for more than Twenty years and his Mother and Sister accepted Christ and were baptized (Falk 1921).
Samuel Ajayi Crowther landed at Badagry with a team of other Missionaries. He first went to Abeokuta and joined a European Missionary Henry Townsend and wife who had set up a school for the CMS at Abeokuta. They teamed up and converted many people to the Christian faith. At Badagry and Abeokuta, they labored for the numerical growth of the Churches.
In 1853, he (Samuel Ajayi Crowther) left Abeokuta for Ibadan on another Missionary work. He worked hard with David Hinderer and co who was sent as European Missionaries. He was very much encouraged to meet this couple and they worked hard to win many converts to Christianity.
Samuel Ajayi Crowther took part in another Niger Expedition in 1857.This Expedition nearly cost his life because their boat had almost drowned but God delivered them through the locals. In spite of this threat, he persevered and carried the gospel to the people of Jebba and met with the EtSU of Bida to convert him to Christianity.
In 1864, he was consecrated the first Bishop and Pioneer Missionary of the Anglican Church in Nigeria. As a Bishop, he took up the responsibility of overseeing the clergy and the Catechists, as well as the growing Churches and the converts, through his missionary activities. The CMS spread further to the South.
In 1857, Church Missionary Society schools like D.M.G.S saint. Augustine’s Grammar school Nkwerre, saint. Marks T.T.C Nise, Awka, and WTC Umuahia to mention a few started through the Missionary.
By 1891,the CSM reached Isikwe-Achi, Oji River-Enugu State from where it spread to neighboring towns like Awlaw, Inyi, Udi, Ngwo, Nsukka, Nike, Agbani, Awkunanaw, Okigwe, Owerri, Mbieri and Calabar and so on.
Bishop Ajayi Crowther spent his time and efforts to translate the whole Bible to Yoruba Language to enable his people understand God’s word. Before his death in Lagos on 31st Dec, 1891, he had left a landmark for his generation in Nigeria and Nation. (Nnaji p.28-29).
3.4. CHRISTIANITY IN TIVLAND
Before we talk of Christianity in Tivland which in 1904 an (SUM) Sudan United Missions party visited Benue ,Plateau to explore the possibilities of working there,more Missionaries in 1905 were recruited for the Wase another Station was founded at Wukari in 1906.In 1911,the SUM baptized the first indigeous convert Istifanus Lar at Wukari, we have to know who the Tiv People really are,Tiv Origin is hidden information that also a mystery that is an ancient past; the origin is not specific, but the Tiv claimed their origin in ‘‘Swen Karagbe’’ their nature or ancient place of origin.
3.4.1 ANCESTRAL ORIGIN OF TIV
The origin of the Tiv in Central Nigeria is said to have originated from the Bantu speaking of what is the present day Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of the evidence that the Tiv came from Bantu is as follows; dance style, physique use, instruments and vocabulary all these are link to the Bantu speaking people of Congo. According to R.C. Abraham’s work title ‘‘The Tiv People’’ in 1933, gave evidence of 67 words list showing similar between Tiv language and the ‘‘Bantu Nyanza’’ in present day Malawi. (Akiga 1933).
3.4.2. ORAL LEGEND ON THE ORIGIN OF TIV
The oral legend on the origin of Tiv people and their allegiance to their God called ‘‘Aondo’’whose brother was ‘‘Takuruku’’. The Tiv travelled through jungle and came across smaller group of people who had occupied the paths on their way to migration to finally settled in the middle belt.Takuruku Anyamazenga was Congo man in the heart of Africa, his wife was ‘‘Aliwe’’ with two Sons Tiv and Uke.
Tradition has it that, Tiv was hard working Sons and also obedient to his Father while Uke was a careless Son.when Takuruku was old and about to die, called Tiv to blessing but instead Uke deceived his Daddy to be Tiv and took the real blessing of Tiv.Tiv later realized Uke was the one that collected the blessings but promised Tiv that, he will prosper in farming and live to feed his charlatan brother, and Takuruku died.
Tiv had three Sons,Gbe,Ipusu,Ichongo respectively and a crippled daughter known as Anadenden,the first Son Gbe left home at tender age, leaving his younger brothers who carried on their Father’s lineage also became patriarch of the Tiv clan.
The migration from the Congo took Tiv and his descendants to different places until eventually, the tribe came to the Benue Valley around 1750 A.D.
Tiv passed from the East descending the Cameroon hills into the area called ‘‘Swen’’ and made settlement in the South-East region of the border between Cameroon and Nigeria in the place called ‘‘Ugbe’’ in Kwande local Government area of Benue State.