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Origin Of Christian Religion In Ondo Kingdom

The history of Ondo witnessed a significant turn during the second half of the 19th century because the events that took place had a far- fetching effect on the conversion process. The prolonged Yoruba civil war of the 19th century had serious impact on Ondo and her people. There was an internal crisis in Ondo, which led to a total breakdown of law and order.

 

This crisis gave Ile-Ife warlords the opportunity to join hands with the town’s dissenting forces to bring an end to Ondo’s autonomy. The people fled to different places until 1872 when the British government sent captain Goldsworth to put an end to the civil strife, restored peace and also restored Oba Jimekun to the throne and encouraged the people to return home.

 

The British did all these with the intent of creating trade route by sea and by land through Ondo to the other Yoruba hinterlands, thereby avoiding the danger precipitated by the escalating Yoruba civil war. Ondo was, as far as the Christian religion was concerned, a terrain cognita and hence Goldsworth conceived the idea of having a Christian mission in Ondo. So, on March 29, 1875, David Hinderer, Hunsi Wright and William Dada opened a Christian mission post. Rev. Phillip was the missionary in charge of Ondo, preaching in any available open space including the Oba’s palace and Chief’s compounds.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that conversion was sailing smoothly in Ondo. No, it did meet some resistance especially after the people realized that the Church was having a negative impact on their traditional beliefs and practices. They refused to give land for Church buildings. However, owing to Philip’s display of diplomacy, he was able to overcome the obstacle. The first Church was dedicated on 3rd May 1881.

 

Thus Ondo became a relatively strong mission center with schools built to educate the children and converts. No wonder then, Ondo people are highly educated. Today, there is hardly any street in Ondo where one will not find a professor. Ondo people viewed the coming of Christianity as an important turning point in their lives. The forced exile for 30 years had a devastating effect on their morale. With the advent of Christianity, there was social restoration and lasting peace. It is no wonder then that Ondo people have their own ethical canticle that expresses the unique experiences, in Ondo history.

 

While the tribal canticle of other Yoruba subgroups are grounded on folk beliefs and traditional experience, Ondo’s canticle is based on the conversion experience; an experience defined as a new life under the banners of Christianity:

 

Bi ola, bi ola oo  – Luxuriant, colourful and majestic
Adodo fusi s’eti omi   – Like the flower blooming by the river bank
Jesu ma fusi s’ Ondo  – So did Jesus (Christianity) flourish on Ondo soil.
Ola ma ti b’okan w’aiye oo ee – Greatness is not the preserve of one source
Bi ola, bi ola oo – Luxuriant, colourful and majestic
Adodo fusi s’eti omi  – As a flower blossoms by the river bank
Jesu ma fusi s’Ondo  – So Jesus has become a pride of Ondo town
Ola ma ti t’oke waiye o ee  – Our prosperity has come from above
Aiye wa sese wa gun oo ee  – Now our lives are organized.

 

Source From: Ondo Development Committee Achieve.

 

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