Today, we are taking our Nigerian readers down memory lane as we take a look at the man who translated the Bible into Yoruba.
The man is known as Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and aside from translating the Bible into the Yoruba language, he also published a Yoruba dictionary in 1843.
He was born in 1809 and passed away in 1891. He was a Nigerian linguist, clergyman, and West Africa’s first African Anglican bishop.
He and his family were kidnapped by slave raiders when he was about twelve years old in Osogun (in what is now Ado-Awaye, Oyo State, Nigeria).
This occurred during the Yoruba civil wars, specifically the Owu wars (1821-1829), during which his village Oshogun was sacked. Ajayi was later resold to Portuguese slave traders, who loaded him onto a ship bound for the New World via the Atlantic.
Crowther was freed from slavery by the Royal Navy’s West Africa Squadron, which was enforcing the British ban on the Atlantic slave trade at a coastal port.
Liberated peoples were relocated to Sierra Leone. Ajayi took the English name Samuel Crowther and began his education in English in Sierra Leone.
He converted to Christianity and identified with Sierra Leone’s then-dominant Krio ethnic group. In England, he studied languages and was ordained as a minister, and he later earned a doctorate from Oxford University.
He worked on a Yoruba grammar and a Yoruba translation of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, as well as a Yoruba version of the Bible and other language projects