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THE EVALUATION OF METHODIST MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES IN NKANULAND (1910-2000)

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THE EVALUATION OF METHODIST MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES IN NKANULAND (1910-2000)

 

ABSTRACT

Since 1843, when Methodist church came to Nigeria from England, it has spread to many areas of this country. It has created much influence in many areas and the church has contributed immensely in shaping the history of Nkanuland in a especially way. Understandably it has influenced positively on the lives of people. Nkanuland was formerly replete with evil practices and idolatrous traditions such as
ritual killings, murder, idol worship, killing of twins and molestation of innocent citizens. With the coming of Christianity, a new history has emerged. However, that is not without the tireless efforts of the missionaries who paid great prices to ensure that the dignity of the Nkanu people was restored. Some of them were exposed to some terrible unfavourable climate which was characterized with mosquito bite which resulted in death. In spite of all these, they pressed forward to make an indelible mark in the history of Nkanuland and left lasting legacies as they were instrumental in stopping of killing of twins establishing of schools, hospital and above all the gospel. The data collection for this work was through participatory observations, books, journals and records in many churches.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1. Background to the Study

From creation humanity has been an extension of God’s aims to reach out to the lost generations and to shape up the spiritual, political and economic landscape of any nation. A Nation’s existence can be meaningful only when God is involved purposefully in the affairs and plans, organizations of human life. In spite of the fact that Nkanu is a land endowed with varied and abundant human and natural resources, it still suffers from economic, social and developmental quagmire, imbued with the backward inclinations which have stalled its progress for years.
This has also given rise to undue suffering. Howbeit with the coming of Christianity things began to change through the efforts of the missionaries. It made the people’s existence meaningful and worthwhile. Rev. Brewer, was the first Methodist missionary to arrive Agbani in Nkanu from Nara in the year 1910. He lived between 1916 and 1925. According to Chief Nnamani Nwa- Ugboachi (personal communication 13/6/2010), one of the prominent chiefs who served  s a teacher and interpreter to the white-man, Agbani had three warrant chiefs who were instrumental to the white man’s positive reception. It was however, the warrant chief Nnaji Onakporoko who actually received the missionary first and helped him to establish the first school and church at Akpoeke.
Due to the hospitality of the Agbani people which was made possible by the then warrant chief, the missionaries decided to settle there with their mission of evangelizing the community area and its environs. They first established a Methodist church directly opposite the railway line quite adjacent to the road that presently leads to Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani’s residence from the rail line which was equally used for the purpose of education.

1.1 Statement of the Problem

The values of the Methodist missionary activities in Nkanuland were devoid of corruption, and nepotism. The gospel was preached unadulterated. The missionaries rendered selfless services in the course of discharging their responsibilities. They maintained an unbroken focus as in those days they met from time to time to discus the common goal. But today those values are no longer there; rather egocentrism has taken over. Nkanu Christians now do not want to leave lasting legacies. Rather they are keen on self-ego and personal aggrandizement rather than towing the steps of the missionaries. The researcher wants to unearth the factors that have contributed to this breakdown in the values of Nkanu people and why the standard of Christianity has depreciated and has fallen short of expected standards. He attributed this to modernization, effect of learning Globalization, and take over of school by the government.

1.2 Purpose of the Study

The advent of the missionaries was a watershed in the history of Nkanuland in view of the deplorable circumstances in which the Nkanu people were submerged in. Therefore, this study is aimed at exploring the activities of the missionaries who brought the good news to Nkanuland through the instrumentality of Methodist Church. It also aims at probing into the factors that generated their exploits, their pitfalls and what they encountered as a way of checkmating the current negative trend of materialism that is associated with the propagation of the gospel. This study will, however, not be complete without doing justice to the nature of Nkanuland before the advent of those missionaries. In doing this we resort to picture the customs and practices that characterized their existence before the advent of Christianity. It embraces also the responses of the people toward the missionaries and their good intentions. It is also of great interest to know that alongside with the gospel there were other packages such as building of hospitals and schools and the abolition of evil practices such as killing of twins, albinos etc. Above all, this study also throws a lot of challenges to both the present and future generation not to rest on their oars but to ensure that the legacy left behind by those ardent missionaries are not throw into the dust- bin of history.

1.3 Scope of the Study

The study is the evaluation of Methodist missionary activities with particular reference to Nkanuland in Enugu State. This study will be restricted to Nkanu, however it will bringing highlight the exploits of those missionaries and how it influenced both the people and the communities.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Sadly enough there is a gross negligence of the rightful approach and motive to the spread of the gospel by Christians and ministers in Nkanuland, taking cognizance of the method employed by the Methodist missionaries for the successful adventure of gospel propagation earlier on. This work is therefore an attempt a significance of the study to take a critical look at the extent of the work of the missionaries, their methods and positive impacts in shaping the destiny of Nkanu people as a way of establishing a solid foundation and creating a landmark for the preaching of the gospel for future generation. Furthermore, this study is both a historical research and empirical research. It is to serve as a base for further researches on this subject or related ones to this generation and generations yet unborn both of Nkanu and the country at large.

The significant of this study is that the consciousness of the believers in Nkanuland who have went in their shelves for fear of persecution will be aroused thought the knowledge of the boldness the Methodist missionaries exhibited. However, it will provide materials through which believers will be equipped enough to carry out the propagation of the gospel.

1.5 Methodology

The study embraces the history, cultures and traditions of Nkanu People. Primary sources will be valuable and authentic in the write – up. The methodology, will include oral interviews with some elders and religious officials to get at the crux of the missionary endeavors in the course of assiduous work in mm Nkanuland. The researcher will
also make reference to tools or resource materials from National and State museums, or activities.

1.6 Definition of Terms

Evaluation: Elaborating on the values, bring out the germs in a substance. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary described evaluation as to asses or form an idea of the amount, quality or value of something or somebody. The effect of the significance of something.

Methodists: They are a group of Christians who believed in the teaching of John Wesley. They began their work in Nigeria in 1842. It is that part of world Methodism founded by John Wesley. They began their work in Nigeria in 1842. It is an autonomous church and preaches Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth. It also exercises the Lords priestly and prophetic function.

Missionary: A person who tries to spread knowledge of his belief and of his religious practices especially among people who are ignorance of it. Oxford Advanced learners described is as a person sent to teach the Christian religion to people who are ignorant of it. The sixth edition defined it as a person who is sent to a foreign country to teach people about Christianity.

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