Several religions coexist in Nigeria, helping to accentuate regional and ethnic distinctions (Kane 86). Religion is often times the source of customs, culture, happiness and wars: it influences nearly every facet of our life. In Nigeria, the main religions are Christianity, paganism, and Islam. Christianity began to spread in the 19th century and has continued to spread up through the 21st century. The major spread of the Christian church in Nigeria is clearly credited to the independent churches of the Nigerian people.
Portuguese Catholic priests, who landed on the shore of Nigeria with traders, first introduced Nigerians to Christianity (http://www.nigeriannation.com). Because these priests were only in Africa to serve the Portuguese trading community, the influences of Christianity were literally non-existent by the 1800’s. The true missions of the Christian church began in the late nineteenth century with Britain trying to abolish slave trade (http://www.nigeriannation.com). In 1850, Thomas Bowen of the Baptist convention arrived in Abukuta, Nigeria. Since he could not enter into mainland he mainly focused on his work in Abukuta. Soon more missionaries joined him from the Baptist convention and several bases were opened—the work was slow but steady for the first fifteen years. In 1875, W.J. David, Thomas’ friend and colleague arrived in Abukuta and together they revived the mission. Within five years there were six churches and outstations in the area (Falk 340). Not much later, the new converts decided that they would like to start reaching out to their fellow Nigerians. Several congregations of converts split and made
an independent church and were allowed to enter Nigeria (341). This changed everything; within fifteen years, the membership grew to 2,880 and was still growing.
Around the same time that the Baptists entered Africa, the Methodists and Presbyterians also began their mission. The Methodists u...
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Mazrui, Ali A., eds. General History of Africa. 8th ed. Oxford: Unesco Press, 1993.
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