Role Of Christianity In Shaping The Fortunes Of Nigeria 1500 – 1900 A.D
Just like Islam, Christianity is one of the oldest religion in the whole world. The religion is based on the believe that Jesus is the son of God and that Joseph and Mary are the biological parents of Jesus Christ. To some scholers, they see Christianity as a perfection of Judaism. However, it is a book religion and it’s laws and teachings are found in the holy Bible.
As a religion, it’s greatly influenced by the Greek and Roman culture and also influence by one of the North African country called Egypt and Ethiopia. Christianity teaches about community way of life which is “love your neighbor as thyself’ ‘Do unto others as you expected to do unto you’.
How Christianity Spread in Nigerian Societies
Christianity was imported into Africa by the European. Benin kingdom and some other states in the Niger Delta was one of the earliest people that received the Portuguese explorers. These Portuguese explorers came in company with some catholic priest and they were the one preaching the gospel and spreading it to tell parts they entered.
Factors Responsible For The Spread Of Christianity In Nigeria
1. There was the need to check the spread of Islam in Africa.
2. There was the need to win souls for Christ.
3. The need to have more trade relations or trade opportunity with African states.
However, in 1515 A.D the missionaries succeeded in building school in palaces. The short comings of this was that the school was attended by the princes and people for the royal family before it became open to everyone.
Between 1500 and 1800 A.D, Christianity as a religion has gained more ground in the Niger Delta region like Wari, Okilika, Opobo, Bonny. By the 19th century, a lot of Christian societies and evangelical groups began to pour in into Nigeria. They are:
1. Baptist Missionary Society in 1792 headed by William Cary.
2. London Missionary Society in 1794.
3. Glasgow Missionary Society in 1796.
4. British and Foreign Bible Societies in 1804.
5. General Missionary Societies of the Methodist in 1818.
Moreover, it is important to note that missionary activities were restricted in the coastal region alone. This is because of mosquito bite which causes maleria and killed many of them. It was in 1850 that the quinine to treat maleria was invented so they were afraid to die of malaria. The interland rulers were very stubborn and rebellious against the new religion.
Reforms Undertaken by the Missionaries in order to win more souls
1. In order to win more souls for Christ, the killing of twins were abolished.
2. The use of human being for sacrifice was preached against/abolished.
3. They tried to stop the practice of polygamy.
4. They also tried to stop tattoos.
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