FIRST BISHOP OF BENIN DIOCESE
Sam U. Erivwo, Ph.D.
Reproduced in URHOBO WAADO by kind permission of Professor Sam U. Erivwo
As already indicated, after his ordination as
deacon in 1938, Agori Iwe served his curacy in
The Enugu District in his time covered a large area. A document he prepared regarding the Organisation of Women’s work n his District gave and idea of the extent of that District. According to that document, the Wormen’s work which comprised Women’s guild and the mothers’
Enugu District, under Agori Iwe, in 1950, was a very large area. Just as he toured the large area of the Urhobo District from 1940-49, on a push bicycle, and in canoe, when visiting the riveraine area of the District, so he did the Enugu District under him.
This is why, his friend, Archdeacon Burne offered
to sell his own car to Agori at a cheap rate of £250. Agori wrote to
his friend Rev. J. Townsend, in
“I wrote you a letter sometime ago about my work and the difficulty of moving quickly
and regularly from one station church to another due to transport difficulty in this part"”
(Agori Iwe to J. Townsend, 26 Sept. 1950).
In the course of time it devolved on
Agori Iwe, as Manager of schools in his District, to constitute that type
of Committee for the C.M.S. schools in
For the period Agori was in charge of the Enugu District, as Superintendent, he carried out his duties with meticulous attention and unalloyed dedication to his Master. Agori Iwe, as Catechist, had translated the Gospel of John, and had it published by 1935. Later, he also ensured that the whole of the New Testament was also translated into Urhobo and published.
From the records, it is clear that Agori
Iwe either forewarded the manuscripts of the Urhobo New Testament (ovho Okpokpo), to the British and Foreign Bible Society in
“you will be interested to know that I have just returned
from my furlough which I spent in
I am wring to tell you that some of your manuscripts are still with me. Do you need these documents for reference?
called at the British and Foreign Bible Society and I am sorry that I was
not aware of these queries at the time. Of course I would not have known the
answers, but I know now that most of the copy manuscripts are here in
I hope that you have settled down to your parochial duties after your exciting travels.” (Roberts to Agori, at Enugu, 12 Dec. 1949)
On 28th December Mr. Roberts forewarded the manuscripts of the Urhobo New Testament, that he found in his possession at PortHarcourt, on his return from furlough to Agori Iwe in Enugu and on the following day, 29th December, he forewarded a copy of a letter of Miss Ashford on the same subject, to Agori.
In the said letter dated First Sept., 1949, and headed “Urhobo New Testament”, Miss Ashford wrote:
“We have just been looking over your MSS, of the New Testament before passing them on to the printer, and we find that, while two or three of the books have had accents marked in ink, the majority have none. Does this mean that the accents are not really necessary and can be ignored throughout? Or will you like to have the manuscript back again in order to insert these? It will be much easier to set up the manuscript without the accented letters.
Then again I notice that some of have ‘e’ and ‘o’ and some ‘e’ and ‘o’. But I have looked at the printed John and I find that only the ‘e’ and ‘o’ have been employed.
I am very sorry indeed
that we did not notice these discrepancies before you left
Earlier on, the translations Secretary of the
British and Foreign Bible Society in a letter dated
Thus, even while Agori was working in
We do not know how much of the Igbo language,
he was able to learn while he worked in
While Agori was in the east he was still very
concerned about the growth of the church in Urhoboland, and the church workers
in Urhoboland, looked up to him for advice and help in times of difficulties.
One of the church workers at the time who had
difficulties with his immediate boss and looked up to Agori Iwe for advice
and help, even while Agori was still in
In a moving letter to Agori in Sept. 1950, Arawore
intimated the former with his plight. The letter marked Confidential,
was actually addressed to Archdeacon Burne and copied to Agori Iwe at
“Thank you for keeping
me informed of what your pastor and the Archdeacon are trying to do
against your progress. I am writing to the Archdeacon, but I should not mention anything about
your letter. I will put your case to him in a different way…While I was with him during our
week of Evangelism, we only touched faintly the subject of our men for training; and there was
no time to have strong, and heart to heart talk about it.
When I read your
letter, I wept. Your letter has just reached me this morning, and the whole
has been sad for me. And I tried to comfort myself with the word of God.
came to me. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
I believe strongly that church work is God’s work. It is Christ’s Special Department in the World.
He is above all, over-ruling the evils of men in it; and making all things turn to good for them that
put their faith in Him” (Agori Iwe, at C.M.S. Office Enugu, to E. Arawore, 25 Sept. 1950).
Agori went further to encourage Arawore to take comfort in God’s words, already quoted, while promising that he would do the little he could to right the wrong. Agori commended Arawore highly in the manner he wrote to the Archdeacon.
“Your letter to the Archdeacon is very very good. I commend your wisdom
in it, I believe that
the Holy Spirit has guided you. Please preserve a copy for history, which shall be written for
Urhobo church” (Agori to Arawore, 25 Sept. 1950).
The plight of Arawore about which he wrote, while he was at St. Barnabas’ Church Arhavbarie, had to do with the manner, his immediate boss disrecommended him to the Archdeacon, over a matter which the boss had claimed to have forgiven Arawore. The issue was not actually to do with Arawore directly, but with his wife who sold certain articles in the school premises, after the pastor had said that articles were not to be sold in the school premises. Arawore and his wife apologised and were said to have been forgiven. Yet when the time to select Catechists for training came, the pastor disrecommended him on that score to the Archdeacon, who believed everything the pastor said hook, line, and sinker.
Agori laboured faithfully in