Filed in General by on August 7, 2010

…My life as Bishop Samuel Adjai Crowther’s great great granddaughter, Herbert Macaulay’s niece
Saturday, August 07, 2010

• Mrs. Orewande Januario

The story of Bishop Samuel Adjai Crowther is one that fascinates many. Born in Abeokuta and taken away abroad, as a slave, he returned to Nigeria, his root, as a trained priest, where he became one of the greatest missionaries. He translated the Bible into Yoruba, which is still being read today.

Saturday Sun recently discovered a great great granddaughter of Bishop Crowther, Mrs. Orewande Januario, who is 83. The grand old woman was a journalist and trained nurse. At her age, she is strong and agile and speaks impeachable English. Her sense of recollection is amazing, as she remembers all events precisely, with dates.

Mrs. Januario is time-conscious and keeps appointment on time, a virtue she learnt from her uncle, the late Herbert Macaulay.
In this interview, she talked about Adjai Crowther, Herbert Macaulay, her family, life in the 1920s and the secret of her longevity.

Could you tell us about yourself and family?
My name is Orewande Januario, nee Tom Jones. I was born on February 13, 1927, to Akinwande Jones and Oreoluwa Macaulay. My grandfather, Tom Jones, called the Merchant of Venice, built Tom Jones Hall in Lagos. He set up a board of trustees to manage it for the use of Nigerians. My mother was the daughter of the last child of Rev. T. B. Macaulay, who founded the CMS Grammar School. If he were not lettered, they would not have asked him to do it. He schooled in Sierra Leone up to university level. Rev. T. B. Macaulay’s parents were taken as slaves to Sierra Leone. So, when slaves were freed, one old man, his name was Zachary Macaulay, approached the slaves and told them he wanted to convert them to Christianity. They said they would not accept it unless the went to Rev. T. B. Macaulay’s father who was their Baale and an Ifa priest. When they went to him, he handed two of his sons over to Zachary Macaulay, who converted them to Christianity, with new names as Babington Macaulay and Boston Macaulay. Their father’s name was Ojo Oriare from Ogbomosho. That was how we came by that name, Macaulay.

The father of my grand mother, who later became Mrs. Macaulay, was Rev. Aradamola Coker. He was a musician. He studied musicology. Before he became a musician, he was a teacher at an all female school. Later he took to full-time ministry. He was the first organist and choirmaster at Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos. He used to organise ‘Coker Concert’ for children, periodically. My grand mother was the third child. He had three girls and a boy, who grew up to become Rev. Robert Arogbamolu Coker from Abeokuta. He was the founding vicar of Anglican Church, Ijebu Ode. That area, where the church is located, was called Igbe Oro, where the oro people used to gather before setting out to perform.

What is the connection with Bishop Adjai Crowther?
When Rev. T. B. Macaulay wanted to marry the second daughter of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, he was told that unless he changed to the Anglican Communion, the marriage would not hold. So, he changed and became an Anglican priest. But his younger brother remained a Methodist priest. That’s how and why we have both Anglican and Methodist faithful in the Macaulay family.

Could you tell us about Adjai Crowther?
Bishop Samuel Adjai Crowther had six children, three boys and three girls. One of his sons was an Archdeacon. He too, was a priest, like his father. When he was made a bishop, he travelled to Badagry. While he was in Badagry, he translated the English Bible into Yoruba. No other priest or archbishop, up till today, has done another version. The Yoruba translation was good. Those who read or speak Yoruba language will confirm this. If he were not educated, he would not have achieved that feat. He obtained his Doctor of Divinity degree by examination, not honorary or ‘dash.’

During his lifetime, he toured West Africa extensively on evangelism. When he died, he was buried at Ajele cemetery near Igbosere, Lagos, where St. Peter’s Church is located. The site is currently used as satellite campus of the Lagos State Polytechnic. But during the time of Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, as military governor of Lagos, he desired to use that place as secretariat, but the Federal Government refused to allow that. Before then, he had issued notices to those families whose relations were buried there to rebury their dead. I was on the reburial committee that did the exhumation. That was how the late Bishop Adjai Crowther’s remains were exhumed from Ajele Cemetery in 1976.

Could you believe when he was exhumed, his whole carcass, the vertebrae were intact as if it was a skeleton prepared for an anatomy class? On his left finger, he had the bishop’s ring. It was still intact. I have never seen a thing like that all my life. If they were Catholics, they would have canonized him. But being Anglicans, such a thing is not possible. His remains were reburied at CMS Grammar School, at the Cathedral Church of Christ. The cenotaph stands till today, between Kakawa and Marina. The ceremony was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who preached a sermon entitled, A slave boy who became a bishop.

How many years did it take between his burial and reburial?
I can’t remember the time he died, but if you visit the cenotaph, you would get the information. He was exhumed in 1976; that I remember, and he was born in the early 18th Century.

When last did you go to the cenotaph?
That is where I worship; so I see it each time I go to church.

How do you feel, with all these achievements, that Adjai Crowther cannot be canonized?
Well, I feel bad, but this is because only the Catholics do that, not Anglicans. You know that the Anglican Communion broke away from the Catholic Church.

In other places, people would turn the cenotaph into a place of worship, where they pay homage. Does it happen now?
No, it does not happen, except passers-by, who see that he is always there. They wanted him reburied inside the compound of the church but the committee insisted it should be outside, so that public would see and view it.

How do you feel being related to such a man?
I am happy that I have a pedigree. You can have all the riches in this world, but without pedigree, you are nothing. But if you have a pedigree, that is very important. Pedigree means a lot. It is your background. He was a great man, time conscious, honest and kind.

How did such pedigree shape your life?
It shaped my life into being a gentle lady. I am proud. I was born in 1927 and brought up in Lagos on a Sunday morning. I have lived my whole life in Lagos.

Since you have lived your whole life in Lagos, could you compare Lagos of yesteryear and today?
What we have today is rubbish. Everything has gone bad. Those days, there was real discipline. Everything was good. A walk in the streets would reveal this. Today, the young have no respect for the elders. Then if you entered a bus and decided to sit down as an elder, the young ones would get up and surrender his seat for you. Not now. Today, they would say after all I have paid my fare. If you caution children in the street, they would talk back at you. One day, I saw some school children going to school late, by 10 am and I rebuked them. One of them replied that I should keep quiet, that I belonged to the old school. It is that bad. Is that discipline? Pupils do not learn any more. Teachers, too, do not come to school on time. They first go and sell their wares before they come to school to teach.

What don’t you like about Lagos of today?
Everything has gone haywire. The markets too. No road; no pedestrian way. Then, things were cheap to buy. How much was sugar, milk or Pronto? Things have changed. And how much were civil servants or workers’ earning? Then it was enjoyable.

How were schools of old?

Most times we either walked or trekked to school because they were far from homes. The means of transport was limited. I attended Queen’s College, Yaba in 1932. It was then located on Market Street, behind Leventis Stores, almost opposite Tafawa Balewa Square. My parents’ houseboy carried me on his shoulders from Market Street to my school. We were always at school on time. No lateness. In those days, there were European teachers all over. The only non-Europeans staff were Nigerians trained abroad, especially those who taught Yoruba Language. Then the indigenes taught only Yoruba and Religious Knowledge.

Would you say Lagos was better because Europeans were the teachers?
Not necessarily. Yes, Europeans handled the subjects but handed over to trust-worthy Nigerians. However, after independence in 1960, decay crept in when the whites left and we could not manage our inheritance.

What led to that?
Money and greed or something like that.

We learnt that you are related to Herbert Macaulay. Is that so?
He was my great uncle. The late Herbert Macaulay fought for Nigeria’s independence. But he died on May 6, 1946, long before Nigeria got independence. He was a civil engineer and was the one who surveyed the whole of Nigeria. He had not one square metre of land anywhere, except his house on Babina Street, where NITEL had its Lagos office, between Kakawa and Broad Street. That was where he lived and died. Today, politicians own lands everywhere, at home and in Dubai.

Did you ever live with him?
No, I never lived with him. I lived with my parents, but visited his home regularly.

What kind of man was he?
He was a complete gentleman. He had a timetable for meals and stuck to it religiously. He was very disciplined. He was a civil engineer, while my dad was a mechanical engineer. He worked with NITEL. Then the NITEL was using Morse codes to send messages. That was the period of colonialism. When he retired, he was paid his pension for 23 months. Pension is a fraction of your monthly salary. After his death, his pension was transferred to his wife, my grand mother, who also received the pension for 10 years before she died. She never worked with NITEL for a day. But now if you go for your pension, nobody will talk to you. People sit on the ground for days to collect their pension and many die out of frustration. When you want to collect your entitlements, not public fund, or their personal money, you have a big task at hand.

Did you ever go with Herbert Macaulay for campaign?
No. I could not go. I was working, but my mum used to accompany him.

If he were to be president, what kind of leader would he have been?
Nigeria would have fared better, because he was very straightforward. It would have been a better country, but he died before independence. We celebrated 60 years of his death in 2006.

How would you rate politics of those days?
Herbert Macaulay trained Nnamdi Azikiwe. He also formed the NCNC. Cameroon Republic was then part of Nigeria. That was why workers of federal ministries were often transferred to Cameroon from Lagos. Most Nigerian men married Cameroonians as a result of this situation.

How was politics then?
It was not like the ‘thug’ stuff we have now. Then it was done with decency, even when one was attacked, it was with decency, and not the culture we have today. Fighting and killing and rowdy sessions as we experience today were not part of the politics of yesteryear. Now they are all after money, grab and grab as much as you can. Do you know how much they earn per hour today? Herbert Macaulay’s politics was without rancour.

So, how did we come about tribal politics?
Chief Obafemi Awolowo introduced it. That was the beginning of tribal politics. He emphasised Yoruba and ethnic politics too much. NCNC was a good union and party. It evolved from the Democratic Party to a broad based NCNC. It was when Herbert Macaulay was going round the country on a campaign that he took ill and was brought back to Lagos. He died from that ailment. Then it was one Nigeria, one united party for the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa. And people like Azikiwe, Ogusanya, Adegoke Adelabu and others were in NCNC. Awolowo caused everything. NCNC, with Zik, won in Western Region, but Awolowo engineered carpet crossing, which made Action Group to dominate after election.

How do you think we can come back?
God will help us all. See what they are doing now, zoning or no zoning.

You were also a journalist. What was the experience?
It was nice. Those days, stories were paid for per line. The Pilot, Comet and others paid monthly. We did a lot to file good reports. I was the only woman among them and I had a lot of respect. As journalists, we got tickets or pass for free rides in public transport.
I worked for five years at Zik’s press. People would give me their scripts for correction and I would do a good job of it. There was not much encouragement for the women then, so I left. They always wanted me to be on top, to supervise, but they failed to give me the encouragement; so I left and studied nursing.

Tell us your experience as a nurse.
It was very nice. I did general nursing and ‘health visiting,’ that is health nursing. We went round the city to educate mothers on how to care for their babies. What governors’ wives are doing now in the name of pet projects, started from us. We started immunisation and then we were working 24 hours on duty. We did breast milk experiment to show that breast milk is better than bottled milk. We started this novel idea to encourage healthy growth of children. Our boss, then a professor at the University of Ibadan, gave us the assignment and we did it. At the end they paid us pittance as compensation, but we collected it.

Where did you work?
With the local government, then called Town Council, at the health department. It was not in the ministry, as we have today. Public health then was not in the ministry. I majored in public heath nursing. The place was Lagos Town Council, later changed to Lagos City Council, mainland and island.

Can you recall your experience the first day at work?
We were trained and ready for it. I enjoyed the first day because I met some of my classmates there. I was trained here in Nigeria. It was really nice. In those days, people accommodated new entrants. Not now that they look down on you. They would take you round the place and make you feel at home.

Was there any time you felt afraid as a nurse?
No. When I was in the general hospital sometimes they brought corpses late in the night, when the mortuary attendant would have gone. We would just push the dead body to one side and slept beside it till morning. We were not afraid. Early in the morning, the mortuary attendant would come for the corpse.

What is the secret of your youthful appearance?
You don’t stress yourself. Contentment is the most important thing. You are okay if you are content and nothing worries you. You have problem when you want to aim at the skies. Take it easy.

Is there any particular food you like?
Well, I eat nutritional food. I don’t eat any scrap. I mean I eat good food that can give me energy, protein, not just any rubbish. Snacks should be for interlude, not main food. Take your meal, have a cup of tea and be happy.

When last did you go abroad and could you do a comparison?
In 1993. Before then, it was on and off. When you go abroad, you feel relaxed. Nigeria is in ruins right now. No light, no water. In the past, we had ECN, which powered the nation. Then you paid monthly. Anytime they wanted to interrupt power supply to the public, they informed everybody and power was promptly restored as promised. Later, the agency became known as NEPA and things began to change. Today, it is called PHCN, they should change that name to ‘Power Supply Company’ so that Nigerians would enjoy their services.

Can you recall when you got married?
It was a long time now, precisely on February 12, 1952, a day before my birthday. I met my husband at a family function. Those days when you go to party, it was usually a family gathering. It was not for everyone. We courted, before we wedded. We did not rush into marriage, as some people do.

Tell us about your immediate family
I had six children, and lost one. I have 16 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. I spend a lot of time with them when they are around. One of my grandchildren is a polyglot but lives abroad. She speaks Hausa, French, Spanish, Italian and so many other languages, and fortunately her husband works for Reuters.

Do you still read newspapers?
I stopped buying newspapers when the price was increased to N150. When I calculated how much I would spend in five days, I marvel. I listen to the radio review of newspapers and watch television. Besides, there are too many adverts in today’s papers, especially ‘obituary’ ads.

What advice do you have for young people?
Let them be content with what they have; don’t grab; be honest; speak the truth always, because truth will prevail at last.

What would you like to be remembered for?
Honesty, truthfulness and contentment.


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