HISTORY OF THE DIOCESE OF KUTIGI

The church Mission society (CMS) began work in and around Kutigi towards the end of 1903. Mr. Macfarlane, a West Indian sent to work in Nupe land was stationed at Kutigi. Due to initial poor response and un-encouraging result, he was transferred to Kuta in Gwari land and was replaced by Mr. P. Gordon who brought new energy into the work and within a short time won the acceptance of the people.
People were coming from Sakpe, Dabban, Dasun, Gbaci, Sopa, Nakupa, and other villages to attend literacy class at Kutigi. However, in 1904 the CMS took the decision to build a worship centre where they converts can both attend service and receive literacy education. The missionaries were given a new location which is now the present day Cathedral church compound in Kutigi. In that same year, the first Christian worship centre was built. A well was dug; this earth well is still in existence in the Cathedral church mission compound.
In December 1906, Rev. J. D. Aitkens joined the team and was stationed at Mokwa. After some years of less rewarding labour there, and due to unhealthy relationship between him and the government officials and other Europeans in Mokwa neighbourhood, Aitkens had to leave. Mokwa station was left for a while to Jonathan Panakie a native Evangelist. By the end of 1910, it was handed over to Rev. A. W. Banfield of the Menonite Brethren in Christ Mission at Jebba present day Kwara state. Jebba was considered nearer to Mokwa than Bida for better and more efficient superintendence. Thus in 1910, the Mokwa – Kutigi district (as the area was then called) shrunk back to Kutigi. Meanwhile, at Kutigi between 1906 and 1907, Mr. P. Gordon had started the Kutigi Training class, a night school of four town boys and few houseboys. By 1909, through commitment and hard work, the training class not only grew 15 boys and 2 other boarders, but it was rated higher than the Watney Training School at Kpata in present day Kogi state. The Kutigi School provided training for selected boys up to pupil teacher standard for work in schools later on; and it provided save place for missionary boys while their masters were away on leave of absence. So successful was Gordon’s effort than in 1908 and early 1909 two persons: Komi and Audu Uku left Kutigi for Mokwa as pupil Teachers respectively. During this period, Sunday services were held in the Kutigi Village head court (Ezonuwon’s court). The services were fairly well attended predominantly by Muslims of the town, as they were less willing or free to meet in the village head’s house or court – the paramount ruler of Kutigi. Mr. Gordon also visited the surrounding villages with the objective of getting to know the people.
Few years after teaching, the CMS missionaries came up with the decision of introducing Western education to compliment the Nupe language that was used earlier to educate or instruct the native. Part of the decision of CMS missionaries was to extend learning to children. The children were to receive their education in Bida. It was during this period that one Alhaji Ndagi was sent to Bida to learn between 1908 and 1910.
Sadly Mr. Gordon, a most valued worker of affectionate disposition and deep spirituality that won a real place in the affection of native and had special gifts with boys took ill and died on 8th May, 1909 at the hospital in Baro.
Mr. Franklin a West Indian agent replaced Mr. Gordon, though highly recommended from England; he turned out to be morally bankrupt and had to be sent out of the country. Mr. D. Cole, a Serra leone school master from Lokoja took over the training class. But by December 1909, it became necessary to call the whole school and staff to Bida. The school master and senior pupil teachers were found and confessed being guilty of misbehaviors (immorality). The school master was allowed to resign, but he pupil teacher was dismissed, as they were bad examples to boys and dishonor to God. Such was the discipline of the church.
In the face of all these, God was faithful and persevere the mission from the evil conduct of these unhappy workers. As a testimony, the Ezonuwon – paramount ruler of Kutigi sent message to Bida requesting that the station be reopened; assuring that these men were not teachers such as they had learned Christian missionaries were and that they did not regard them as representing the message. In 1910, Mr. J. O. Baikie with his family was transferred to Kutigi. He returned with all boys to reopen the work that was temporarily suspended. Consequently, a friendlier attitude and greater readiness to listen to gospel resumed in the apparent barren heart breaking Islamic stronghold of Kutigi.
By 1912, Rev. J. J. Williams headed the work of Kutigi with Abraham Akon, a Bassa Nge convert from Kpata as school teacher. Proceeding on the rebuilt confidence, they gained much influence among the boys whose enrolment rose to 29 with 15 in regular attendance. Other encouraging signs were also available in attendance of Sunday morning services, which attracted about 88 people. However, 8 members were enrolled and baptized in 1916.
During these years, several visits were paid to over 60 villages, Christ was preached and the people were taught how to read, learn portions of the scriptures and pray at Kutigi. The Christian workers treated and helped the sick, holding regular Morning Prayer for them in recognition of the progress made, between 1918 and 1919; the superintendent remarked that the reports of the agents at Kutigi and Fazhi were full of encouraging news.
It was between 1917 and 1918 that a Kutigi native James Legbo Kutigi who was from Kukpafu became first missionary Evangelist. However, by 1920 and 1921 the fortune changed. The superintendent, Rev. Norman C. Orr, painted a grim picture of the situation in Kutigi saying: “There has been falling off of interest and comparatively few have attended school and Sunday services. In the district around Kutigi we have not found the welcome we had few years ago. There is no doubt that at Kutigi more perhaps than in other villages of the Nupe country, everything depends on the acceptability of the Evangelist with the people”.
Orr pointed out that they needed the very best and keenest of agents 9 which were not true of the agent then there to dispel apathy and indifference and lead to a ready response in Kutigi and opportunities of reaching the people on every side.
Accordingly, in the years after 1921, Rev. C. H. and Mrs. Wiliams resumed work at Kutigi. Mr. Solomon Abu, a native teacher from Kataergi was also station here. Mr. Solomon Abu popularly refered to as teacher Abu was the first Nupe man to work as a missionary teacher in Kutigi. During the time of teacher Abu the first church was built in 1920. It was from that year that services were no longer conducted in hut but in a better rectangular building which was ascribed the status of a church.
The foundation of the first church was laid by Ezonuwon Gana Gbandi the paramount ruler of Kutigi in 1920. God favoured the labourers in Kutigi field. Therefore, by the end of the decade (1920 and 1931) Mr. Solomn Abu proceeded to Awka Training College for one year training. Rev. T. E. Alvares joyfully reported thus: “the break has come after many years of patient seed sowing. At testament with which worshippers studied lessons and looked up chosen text. There were availing 5 out stations where learners were availing themselves eagerly of opportunities the visit of agents gave of the ……”
It is important to note that in early part of the history of Kutigi church the Christian workers were often referred to as teachers because they were mostly providing literacy education and preaching of the gospel as well before some of them were ordained as priest.
In January 1932, Mr. John Angulu who was popularly referred to as Baba Doko returned from his one year training at Awka, training college to resume duty at Kutigi so as to continue with the work in the church includes other teachers who later served subsequently.
The first church built in 1920 at Kutigi was demolished for a better structure in 1956 during the tenure of Rev. Daniel T. Jiya. This later structure in the Kutigi mission compound was there until in May 2013 when it was demolished to give space for a new Cathedral church building. Rev. Daniel T. Jiya contributed immensely to the development of the converts. Because of his outstanding qualities he served in the decision making council of the Etsu Nupe and Ezonuwon’s meeting. Rev. Daniel T. Jiya urged the native of Kutigi to send their children to school so as to acquire western education because he left to Kano afterwards.
During the tenure of rev. Canon Samuel Audu Latiko in Kutigi, the church could not contain the members for services. Therefore, decision was taken to build a cement block church and the foundation was laid on 27th February, 1982. Over the years when Christianity was being resisted in Kutigi, in some surrounding pagan villages the gospel was well received and the growing church congregations there have been consolidation to Christian work in Kutigi area. These village churches include those found in Fazhi, Katamba – Bologi, Emindayisa, Gbangbagi, Lanle, Egbanti, Manyisa, Gogata / Kukpa, Afuagi, Mokwa, and recently Enagi. All these churches are within the jurisdiction of the present Kutigi Diocese. In addition believers were also gotten in the following villages: Kolowoni, Mawogi, Chibo, and Duma. Bur unfortunately these villages are shadows of their former self as Christian believers are non existence.
God has been so faithful thus far as the effort of these faithful labourers has not been in vain. To God be all the Glory.

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