Samuel Ajayi Crowther was born in 1809 in the little village of osogun, now in the southwestern state of Oyo in Nigeria. Captured by slave – raiders in 1821, he was freed by British war ships and settled in Freetown. There, he became educated, was baptized, and the first student enrolled at the famous Fourah Bay College. He became a priest of the Anglican Church, was posted to Abeokuta along with others to start the mission there and, having participated in some expeditions up the Niger River, was eventually appointed as the first black Bishop for West Africa.
In this capacity, Crowther opened numerous missions up the Niger and Benue rivers, from Bonny to Lokoja to Kippo Hill, earning the trust and friendship of the local kings; he translated the Bible fully into Yoruba, and partially into Igbo and Igalla. Unfortunately, however, the last two years of his long and eventual life were to be marred by controversy and bitterness. Some priests sent down by the CMS from England on a visitation to the Niger Mission returned very negative and destructive reports. As a result, the Bishop, already over 80 years old, suffered a stroke from which he never really recovered. He died in the closing hours of December 31, 1891. This play is about those last, painful years.
Ajayi Crowther was initially commissioned by The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Nigeria, City of David Parish, and is one of Osifisan’s most recent plays.