Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

8 articles on this Page

Advertising

Congo Institute, Colwyn Bay.

News
Cite
Share

Congo Institute, Colwyn Bay. The following intensely interesting letter has just come to hand from the Rev J. E. Ricketts, a coloured missionary, who went out under the aus- pices of the Congo Institute, last October, with his wife and Dr Agbebi, to labour in Yorubaland, West Africa. It will be discovered from it, that the fields in Africa, "are white already to har- vest," and we are sure that the readers will be delighted with the original and graphic account given Lagos, West Africa, January 1st, 1896. Rev W. Hughes, F.R G.S. Dear Sir,—We beg to wish you and yours a Happy New Year. I am just from the interior of Yorubaland to-day. I am glad to inform you that Mrs Ricketts gave birth to a son on the 15th December. His name is Caleb Samuel Ricketts. Both mother and baby and myself are quite well. On our arrival here, we found our way very difficult. We arrived on Satur- day afernoon, the 8th of November last, and went with Dr Agbebi to his house, with the intention of remaining there until we found a house to hire. But on arrival he discovered that there was no accommo- dation there for us, and so went to the native minister of the American Mission here, asking him to allow us to lodge in the Mission School until we found a house. To this the good minister very kindly consented, and we went to the Mission House from Dr Agbebi's house the same afternoon. This good minister, the Rev Mr Stone, with his wife and children, rendered us much help, I being sick with dysentery at the time. But as sopn as the chief: missionary (European) who was residing in the interior, was informed of it, he wrote to Mr Stone, ordering him to see to it that we leave the Mission premises at once, and of course Mr Stone:had to carry out his orders. However, he felt sorry for us, and tried his best to help us to find a house, but all the houses in the civilised part of Lagos were at this time occupied. The only shelter we could get, and this we had through the help of the Rev Mr Stone, was a part of a thatched hut, in the most uncivilised and dark part of Lagos. This we hired at 13s 6d per month, the other part of it being occupied by the heathens, who came in at our invita- tion to our morning and evening prayer-meetings. After we had been two weeks in the hut, our baby was born. Joining hard to our hut, was another made of bamboo and thatch, and occupied by heath- ens, who beat their drums continually in worship to their fetich gods. When our child was only four days old, at midnight, the said bamboo hut caught fire, but the fire was put out before the flames were kindled enough to become impassable, else I do not know what we would have done that night, for there would have been no saving of the hut we occupied. The alarm woke us out of our sleep. We are told, and we saw several ruins, that fire burning is a constant thing in that part of Ligos, either from carelessness or spite. When anyone has a quarrel against an- other, he may put fire to his house or hut during the night. Discovering the danger we were in, I had to make efforts the next day to remove from the place. Just here, I must introduce to you the name, and inform you of His Royal Highness Prince Ademuyiwa Hastrope, of Ijebu Remo, in Yorubaland. This Royal gentleman resides in the colony of Lagos, and is one of the greatest of the native gentlemen here. And he is not only a Prince and a gentleman, but is also a Christian of the right kind, and has done and is doing much in the strength of the Lord Jesus, to help to bring his eountrypeople out of darkness into light and from the power of Satan unto God. He has founded two Mission-stations in the interior among his own people, and supports native Agents for both, to teach and preach the Gospel at those stations and the work has been (and is being) successful in the con- version of many precious souls. After the work has been developed, he has of late handed over those mis- sions to the care of one of the Missionary Societies in England, and they are now being worked by both European and native missionaries, and I think he is still supporting some of the native Agents. He is himself a preacher of the Gospel, and is doing much in that way. About a week after our arrival here, Prince Ademuyiwa Hastrope came very kindly to visit us at the Mission-Room where we were lodging, and I informed him of our Mission and of its scheme. The Prince at once became greatly interested in our Mission, but informed me of the difficulty I would have in securing land in the interior for our Mission Station, owing to the suspicions, in the minds of the people and their chiefs, against foreigners, but that he would give me a letter of recommendation to the Chief of where I intended to begin work, in the Ijebu country, as soon as I should be ready to go. As cir- cumstances did not invite our delay in Lagos, I made up my mind to visit Ijebu at once, to find a field of labour, and informed Dr Agbehi of my intention, ex- pecting him to go with me, according to promise. The Ijebu country is the nearest interior to Lagos, and is the best for agriculture and farming, the land being new and mostly forests. I then made re tdy for my journey to Ijebu, but Dr Agbebi did not see his way clear to go with me just then. I then communi- cated with the Prince, asking him kindly to get me a man to go with me to Ijebu the next day, as I had made ready to go on that day, and could not go with- out an interpreter. The Prince in reply said that the notice was to short for him to get me a man by the next day, but that, if I could put off the journey for a few days later, he would be able to get me one. To this I consented. By this time, we had to remove from the Mission-Room and took up our abode in the hut at Okepopo, but when the Prince knew that I was to leave Mrs Ricketts alone at Okepopo, to go to the interior, he failed to see how that could be done, for Okepopo, said he, is not the place for you to leave Mrs Ricketts alone, and he at once thought of pre- paring a room or two on his own premises for Mrs Ricketts, so as to have her removed from Okepopo. He also informed me at the same time that, if I would wait fora week or so, until all is made right and safe for Mrs Ricketts. he would go himself with me to Ijebu. I could hardly believe it, but he told me that he could not deceive me, and that his presence with me in Ijebu Remu, where I intended to go, would remove the difficulties that would otherwise be in my way, he being a Prince of that Kingdom. This at once re- moved a great anxiety from off my mind, and I then contented myself to wait for the Prince, and pursue the study of the language. Being in danger at Okepopo, we were compelled to remove, when our baby was only six days old, from that place to the rooms the Prince had provided at his own expense, and gave to us free of charge. This having been done, the Prince informed me, on the 23rd of Decem- ber, that he would be ready to go with me to Ijebu at noon on the 26th (D.V.), and we accordingly started on that date for the interior. The Prince having pro- vided everything necessary for the journey, at his own expense, we sailed, in a large-sized canoe, from here to Ikorodu, the wind being in our favour. We arrived there at about eight o'clock of the same day. Ikorodu is the nearest point to the interior, that can be reached by water from Lagos, and it is one of the Dukedoms of the Kingdom of Ijebu Remo but was recently annexed to the Colony of Lagos. There I saw the Wesleyan and C. M. S Missions at work, the Wesleyan Mission-station there being one of those that the Prince himself had founded. We spent one day there, seeing the place and people; then started in the evening of the next day. Saturday, on foot for Einurin, which is half-a-day's journey from Ikorodu, —a messenger being sent the same day before us, from Ikorodu to Emurin, to announce the coming of the Prince. We arrived there in the afternoon, and found the Chief and people prepared to welcome His Royal Highness. After a little while, the whole town, being summoned by the Chief, came together, and the Prince informed them of the object of our visit. They then met in Council to consider the matter, and in the night the Chief informed the Prince that the Council had decided to give land near the town for a Mission-station also, that they would show us the place and give it to us in the morning (Sunday), which they did accordingly. When this was done, the Prince informed them that he wished to preach the Gospel to them before leaving. At this the Chief again summoned the whole town, and the people came together about nine o'clock a.m. The Prince preached to them, taking for his text Exodus xx. 12, from which he preached Christ. Emurin is'a little more than half-a-day's journey inland from the lagoon which forms the water-way from Lagos, in the direction of the interior. This being the case, I did not think it wise to begin the Mission work there, but thought it a good out-station-if within easy reach of my principal station. The portion of land given there for the Mission, is a splenid site, and the place appears to be very healthy. We left Emurin about 10.30 a.m. the same day, for Agboa, having been informed that Agboa was the nearest town to the lagoon in that direction. After walking about three hours, we arrived at another town called Mota, which is much larger than Emurin, but the town was almost empty when we arrived there,—the people being away at their farms. The Prince was, how- ever, after a little while, heartily welcomed by the Chief and a few of his principal men. He then in- formed them of the object of our visit to Emurin, and they at once expressed a desire to have the Mission in their town; also, that they could not do anything without the consent of the townpeople, and that, if we could remain there that night, the people would assemble in the evening, so that the Prince would have the opportunity of putting the matter before them. To this we consented. and spent a part of the afternoon in walking around the town. About 7.30 in the evening, a large congregation came together in the middle of the town, and the Prince again informed the people, repeating what he had said to the Chief and the principal men. When this was done, the town met in Council, and decided to give land in the town for a Mission-station, and told the Prince that they would show us the place, and give it to us in the morning (Monday), at 8 o'clock. The Prince again preached the Gospel to these people that evening, taking for his text Acts xvi. 31.that being the first time for them to hear the joyful message of salvation. At this town, the people gave two plots of land for the Mission,—one in the centre of the town, for the school and chapel buildings and the other, near the town, for the missionary to live and have his farm. These are both good sites. About 9.0 o'clock a.m. the same day, we started for Agboa, where we arrived after about two hours' walking. At Agboa the Prince was heartily and very joyfully welcomed by the Chief and people. Agboa is larger than the two other towns mentioned, and is situated on elevated ground, with a stream of clear and fresh water passing by near the town. The town itself is about 2 miles from the lagoon. The situa- tion is very beautiful, and appears to be healthy, and the soil is good for farming. After walking around the town of Agboa, I decided to have my principal station there, and the Prince informed the Chief of the object of our coming,andlwas asked to wait until the next morning, when the townspeople would assemble, and the matter be put before them. The whole town then having been summoned by the Chief the same evening, the people came together at about nine o'clock the next morning (Tuesday), and, the Prince having reported the object of our coming to them, they met in Council, and decided to accept the Mis- sion to their town, and to give land for the same, which they did. The Prince also preached the Gos- pel to them, taking for his text John xiv. 6., from which he preached Christ the Only Way to God, and Eternal Life. That was the first time also for the people there, to hear the Word of Life. At Agboa, the people gave two plots of land for the Mission, as at Mota,—one, in the centre of the town, for School and Chapel buildings and the other, near the town, for the missionaries to live, and for farming. We left Agboa about five o'clock in the evening of the same day (yesterday), and, sailing all night, we arrived here at six o'clock this morning, and found our families quite well. I hope to return to Agboa within a fortnight, to begin work (D.V.) There is one thing which I think is most worthy of note. It is this, that, although this Prince Ademuyiwa Has- trope has much important business in Lagos, which demands every moment of his time, yet he has sacrifi- ced all this, as well as his own personal comforts, for the cause of Christ. Who, knowing this, will not think it worth all the pains and labours to give Africa the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ! When an African is truly converted, that is not all, but he will also deny himself to serve the Lord. We find also in Princess Hastrope, a friendly and kind-hearted Christian lady. The three places mentioned which we have visited and got lands for the Mission, are linked one to the other, and there has been no Mission to those places before. This was the Prince's chief reason for taking me to that part of the country, as he did not wish our Mission to come in collision with any others. I should like if possible to occupy the three places now. This I could do by employing two native Evangelists, for about £2 per month each, and put one at Emurin, and the other at Mota, to preach the Gospel and teach in the Schools, and I myself, while working at Agboa, would be able to superintend the work at Imotla and Emurin if I get the money to employ the Evangelists, and in the future the three stations would be very easily worked, as I am expecting my whole family out to the field. Emurin is a small town of about 500 to 600 inhabitants, situated on a ..mJst lovely elavatel ground, and a healthy place. There is a small bridge to the entrance of the town, after about two or three minutes walking, crossing over a stream called Olnweri." The eastern part of tha stream is used for drinking, but the western part, which is narrower, is considered sacred. No one in the town dare drink or put their foot in it, owing to the superstitions dread that, the day they do it they shall surely die. Strangers are said to be exempt, seeing they do not know. Near this stream there is a fetich grove, called after the stream, Oluweri." This they worship as the spirit of their ancestors and besides this there are other fetich groves round about the town, and the plot given for the Mission is just in front of their fetich groves. Imota is about three hours distance from Emurin, and there is a bridge in the way after about three-quarters of an hour's walking, crossing over a stream called "Beri." The dreadful bridges in those parts, are made of the trunks of one or two small trees, thrown over the water and mud. The Prince had a fall on this bridge, and nearly sprained his left foot, but was all right the next day. Imota is low land and the best fertile soil for agriculture. The inhabitants are about 1,000 or more, and are farmers. There are several fetich groves around the town of Imota, and one of the plots given for the Mission there, is quite near to one of their fetich groves. One grove is included in the plot. Agboa is about two hours distance from Imotla., and the town is also surrounded by fetich groves. The plot given there for the Mission, for residenco and farming, is joining to one of their fetich groves. All these groves we expect the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ to cut down. The inhabitants of Agboa are more than two thousand. The expense of our journey from Lagos to the in- terior and back, for hireage of canoe and inland car- riers, and for presents given to the people at Emurin Imota, and Agboa, amounts to C21 6s 4d. This sum the Prince has paid out of his own expense. If I had not become acquainted with Prince Ade- muyiwa Hastrope, through the recommendation of the Rev T. J. Marshall, and the opportune introduc- tion of the Rev M. L, Stone—native ministers,—it would have been impossible for me to reach thus far in the work. My time in Lagos is being occupied by preaching on Sundays in the Native Churches. I hope you have received the letter I posted to you in November last. Please remember us very kindly to all our kind friends in Colwyn Bay. And with our united Christian regards,—I remain, very truly yours in the Lord's work, J. E. RICKETTS. P.S.-If the Lord's people in England, Scotland Ireland, and Wales, together with some of my own people in Jamaica, would give this Mission the proper support it needs now at the beginning, and continue the same for a few years, there is no doubt that, with the blessing of the Lord, by that time the Mission would be able to support itself, and not only that but also to send out of itself Christian workers to the remaining dark parts of the country.—J. E. R."

Colwyn Bay and Colwyn Urban…

Advertising

The Urban District Council…

Flowers of Wild Wales.

Advertising

Colwyn Bay and Colwyn Urban…