Dec 31 – Samuel Ajayi Crowther

Samuel Crowther

Samuel Ajayi Crowther
Bishop of the Niger Territories
31 December 1891

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From the Satucket Lectionary

Samuel CrowtherBishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (c. 1809 – 31 December 1891) was a linguist and the first African Anglican bishop in Nigeria. He was born in Osogun, Yorubaland (in today’s Oyo State, Nigeria).

Ajayi was in his 12th year when he was captured, along with his entire village, by Muslim Fulani slave raiders in 1821 and sold to Portuguese slave traders. Before leaving port, his ship was boarded by a Royal Navy ship under the command of Captain Henry Leeke, and Crowther was taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone and released. While there, Crowther was cared for by the Anglican Church Missionary Society, who taught him English. He converted to Christianity, was baptized by Rev. John Raban, and took the name Samuel Crowther in 1825.

In 1841 Crowther was selected to accompany the missionary James Frederick Schön on an expedition along the Niger River. The goal of the expedition was to spread commerce, teach agricultural techniques, spread Christianity, and help end the slave trade. Following the expedition, Crowther was recalled to England, where he was trained as a minister and ordained by the bishop of London. He returned to Africa in 1843 and with Henry Townsend, opened a mission in Abeokuta, in today’s Ogun State, Nigeria.

Rev. Dr. Crowther began translating the Bible into the Yoruba language and compiling a Yoruba dictionary. AYoruba version of the Book of Common Prayer followed later.

In 1864, Crowther was ordained as the first African bishop of the Anglican Church. That same year he also received a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford University.

Bishop Dr. Crowther’s attention was directed more and more to languages other than Yoruba, but he continued to supervise the translation of the Yoruba Bible, which was completed in the mid-1880s, a few years before his death. In 1891, Crowther suffered a stroke and died on the last day of that year.

more from Wikipedia

A biography written just after his death is online, thanks to Project Canterbury.



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