Today Anglican Church marks 164th of CMS Anniversary in Igbo land

 

Anglicans celebrates their CMS Missionary Anniversary in every 27th July. So toady 27th of July 3020, Anglican fellows are celebrating their CMS Niger Missionary Anniversary the cerebration is to commemorate the Advent of Christianity in Igbo land.

Anglicans used this period to measure their past, present and forecast how the Christianity fate would be in the future.

 

In 15th century, the first missionary incursion into the coast of west African were pioneered by the Portuguese. The second endeavoured, since the first did not record much success was initiated in the 19th century which showed more success and led to the planting of Christianity in many countries of West Africa. The CMS and the missionary work in this part of the world centers around Bishop Samuel Ajayi  Crowther.

 

In 1857, Rev S. A. Crowther led the CMS team for the Niger expedition. With him were Rev. J.C Taylor, Catechist Simon Jonas, and Augustus Armadillo. All of them are Igbo ex- slaves resided in Sierra Leone. The team landed in Onitsha on 26/27th July 1857 and were welcomed by then Obi Akazua of Onitsha. The Niger mission was then founded

 

They requested for land to establish their mission and were gladly given the area of land around the former ABS( now shoprite) down to the River Niger,( around Oseokwuordu). This is the root of our celebration of CMS Niger missionary Anniversary every 27th July.

 

The first achievement of the CMS missionaries was the coining of the Igbo alphabet. They tried to formulate it alongside the English alphabet but some Igbo accent could not be found in the English alphabet. This led to having such compound letters in Igbo alphabet.From this foundation the CMS started to build the Igbo grammar by merging each consonant with each of the 6 vowels. After that, they went further to three-letter words.

 

From this stage again they went on to short stories and full page stories. This eventually gave birth to the first ever printed book in IGBOLAND known as "Azu Ndu." It was so called in the belief that the seed of the gospel (the Word of God) has been planted in IGBOLAND and, like every plant with green leaves, it has germinated and will continue to grow, hence the name: "AZU NDU," meaning A Book with "Green Back Cover." It is not "Azu Ndu" as in "Fresh Fish" as many have grossly and ignorantly misinterpreted it to mean.

 

After successfully printing the "Azu Ndu" the missionaries and the early "graduates" such as George Nicholas Anyaegbunam, the 1st Igbo clergyman, and many others, went ahead to work on translating the Bible into Igbo language which has now been rooted in the land. Their efforts gave birth to a complete Igbo version of the Bible in 1913. Archdeacon Dennis of the famous DMGS played a very distinguished role in the translation work and its printing. There were many other people who rendered help one way or the other in this noble task to bring the Word of God in our native language to our door steps, and lay the foundation of education in this part of the country.

 

In their bid to stop slavery and cannibalism in IGBOLAND the missionaries travelled to different parts of the world in search of food items suitable for the West African climate, which will equally be good for African trade. The search yielded positive results in that, almost all the staple food items we enjoy today were brought into the country by the CMS. The following are some of the food items and the country from where they came.

 

Yam: West Indies

Tomato: West Indies, USA, South America

Maize: USA, West Indies, India, and China

Cassava: Brazil, South America, and the Amazons

Plantain/Bananas: India, Cameroon, Germany

Pepper and Pineapple: India

Coconut: Honolulu

Guava: Cameroon, thru' the Germans

Sheep and Goat: Australia, Tasmania, Argentine, and New Zealand

Fowl: Rhode Island, and Asia Minor

Rice: America, Japan, China, and Ceylon

Cocoa, Avocado, Cocoyam: India and Ceylon

Beans: Egypt, Sudan, and Americas. Etc.

With the above startling revelation one wonders what our ancestors had for food. No wonder they killed their fellow human beings for food. We cannot really thank the missionaries of the CMS enough for the sacrifice they made to give us the light of the Gospel we enjoy today.

 

Hail the Anniversary day!

May God in all things be glorified!

Happy Anniversary celebration, everyone.