Bishop Ajayi Crowther and the Iron of Liberty
By Taiwo Abiodun
Taiwo Abiodun visited Lokoja , the confluence town and toured many memorable places among them is the Iron of Liberty in Holy Trinity Church , Lokoja
We need not to be reminded of how the Portuguese took our forefathers into slavery and shipped them like sardine to the Western World where they worked in their plantations. Yes, we should not flash back to history again and remind ourselves how the powerful callous and illiterate monarchs exchanged and sold our parents [ the weaker ones] for bottles of whisky , glass mirrors, shoes and gun powder. Oh , no!, we need not to talk about how the slave raiders dehumanised and humiliated our forefathers . Many were pursued and captured like wild animals .Their mouths were padlocked, shackles were put round their necks while their legs and hands were chained .
For weeks they might not be given food or water and sadly enough dangerous animals devoured many on their way to the port s or while making attempts to escape . While in the ship , the sick , the dead ones and the stubborn slaves were thrown overboard, into the sea where they become food for the shark . Any slave that attempted to escape would be shot .No mercy: Parents were forcefully separated from their children. Toddlers were snatched away from the back of their mothers while nursing mothers were captured and chained leaving their babies to cry and starve to death!. In the bush , human skeletons filled everywhere. It was more than horror. Whenever the whites had sexual urge they forcefully picked any of the Black women and covered their faces and had sex them without their consent and irrespective of the environment: some in the bush while whoever refused to cooperate would be shot to death .It was horrible! .It was the period when Satan reigned and ruled African continent and Nigeria had a larger share!.
Many books have been written about Slavery and one could remember Frederick Douglass an American slave who later became a powerful writer. Yes, the Rastafarians like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh reminded us in their songs in Catch A Fire, Slave Driver ,and Stop That Train , 400 Years,
Another Reggae musician , Burning Spear sang on how they put chains round our necks in his track Slavery Days
In 1976 when the book Roots written by Alex Haley was published, in which it told the story of Kunta Kinte who was taken away from Gambia in Africa to face the most terrible life torture of A a slave .The Book, Roots was published in 37 languages .A film was produced from it and the Blacks in America went mad and protested seeing how cruel slavery was!.
. The late M.K.O. Abiola started his Reparation campaign ,demanding Compensation from the Western world to compensate Africa for , but he could not go far for he was later killed by the military for demanding for his stolen mandate .
Today, Lokoja which served as the real port of Slavery centre has been forgotten , the place that could have been turned into a museum on its own is unkempt .Yes, the place that served as Freedom square is neglected .If not for history no one would have remembered Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther a Yoruba man who was once a slave and freed , he later became a Bishop ,and he translated English Bible to Yoruba Bible.
In the 19th century, Lokoja was the most lucrative town for European merchants and missionaries , and when the British started waging war against slave trade the place became a hot zone and the town became a collection for slaves seized from slaves merchants to be consequently set free.
Any slave that ran there and touched the iron pole is definitely set free and MUST NOT be captured again !.The spot where such slaves were freed is marked with a piece of iron pole now referred to IRON OF LIBERTY, the spot is also where Crowther is buried .
Bishop Crowther was buried in Lagos but his bones were exhumed and taken to Lokoja where he was eventually interred.
This marble is presented to Holy Trinity Church , Lokoja by Jakura Marble Industry Limited.
Our children should visit these places, and our history should not be forgotten .And the question is ‘’Are we not still in slavery? And when are we going to free ourselves ?’’