Missionary Activities in Obolo

In Western Obolo, Christianity started spreading from the two earlier established center of influence: Bonny and Opobo. A
Christian mission was first established at Bonny in 1864. And the first Obolo converts seen to have been traders from Ataba, who
went there to sell palm oil and fish. Although this fish convert were made as early as 1870, their impact on the society seems to
have been small. However, in 1895, a group of traders who hailed from Agwut-Obolo were converted, but suffered persecution as
They were forced to swear various oaths to the effect that Yok-Obolo (The National gods) would kill them if they continue with
Christian worship. Despite the beatings and the forced oaths, however, members of the group sail through. After the punitive
expedition in 1904, many Christians became scared as this almost lead to total failure in establishing Christianity in Western Obolo.
In 1910, Chief John Ikuru invited Rev. J. A Pratt from Anglican mission at Opobo to open the Chapel formally as a branch of his
mission.
Despite John Ikuru’s position as Okan-ama of Ikuru town, many taditional devotees were worried, and their hostility reached the
climax in 1914. Ofiokpo members assaulted Rev. Pratt during one of his visited to the town. John Ikuru then trained his Children,
his relations and other promising youths at school in Ikuru town and Opobo. He sent them out to other Obolo communities as
missionaries and agents.
David Ogboloingbidim also emerged as a key figure in spreading Christianity and floushing of Shrines. During his visit to Bonny, he
met Prophet Garrick Braide, with his aggressive shrine-smashing approach to the traditional cults. Braide came to Agwut-Obolo in
1916. He settled in with Ogboloingbidim, and immediately started Calling on the people to bring out their idols for burning. Again,
the aggressive traditionalists marched on Ogboloingbidim’s house and partially destroyed it, injured its owner and forced Braide to
return to Bonny. Although, Braide’s Christ Army Church became slowly but steadily more influential in the area.
In Eastern Obolo, the problems were the same. Early Christian activities derived inspiration from Opobo, Bonny and Ibeno. The area
was a link between Opobo town and Ibeno at the mouth of Qua Iboe River Which in the days of palm oil trade had featured
prominently in European documentations. The experience of Christianity in Okoroete, Iko and other villages was similar to that in
Agwut-Obolo. The advent of Christianity was therefore seen as a threat to the traditional position and devotees of Yok-Obolo.
Rev. Samuel A. Bill of the Qua Iboe mission had been spreading the Gospel not only among the Ibeno and Ibibio, but also came to
Iko town in Eastern Obolo and establish the first Qua Iboe Church in 1900. The C. M. S mission efforts also resulted in the
establishment of St. Silas Anglican Church in Okoroete in 1916. As part of the evangelistic enterprise of John Ikuru, Ralph Ikuru was
sent to Okoroete, and he eventually attached a school to the Church. In 1900, Rev Ekong got converted and started spreading the
Gospel. By 1938, He started the Lutheran Church in Elile ( this church was popularly known with their vanacular church services).
Among these early Churches was also the Christ Army Church (attractive with his healing sessions) and the Methodist Church of
Nigeria ( known for its contributions to the society), Unity Church, etc.
***By Steven Clifford… A fraction of my current unpublished book titled: Obolo Traditional Religion and Cultural Heritage.
References
Nkporum, C. Ejituwu (1991) A history of Obolo (Andoni) in Niger Delta, Nigeria: Manson Publishing Company.
Steven, Clifford (2015) Obolo History and Religion, University of Uyo, B. A ( Hons ) Unpublished project.
R. N. G Otuene, (1988) Garrick Beside movement in Obolo (Andoni) port Harcourt: University of port Harcourt.
B. A ( Hons ) Thesis.
Epelle, ( 1958 ) The Church in Niger Delta, Port Harcourt.
C. H. Etewo, ( 1966 ) A short History of the Anglican Church in Okoroete.