Exactly 136 years ago, 20 November 1885, the Holy Ghost Fathers missionaries arrived Southern Nigeria. Their first port of arrival was Akassa (Bayelsa state).
They were 4 missionaries in all: Fr Joseph Lutz (32 years old), Fr John Horne (27), Br. Hermas Huck (20) and Jean-Gotto (28). They were all French. Their original destinstion was Lokoja (Kogi State) from where they intended evangelize the neigbouring areas. At Akassa port, they were “refused entry into the Niger by the officials of the English company.” (The company in question was the National African Company formed in 1879 through the amalgamation of three British companies trading in the Lower Niger).
The fact was that the officials, who were English, refused them passage because doubted their mission. That the missionaries were French made matters worse. The missionaries made their way to the next port, Brass (Bayelsa state). At Brass, they met an English Protestant trader called Townsend who showed them hospitality.
Townsend took them to his house and apologized to them for the incidence at Akassa. He took them on his personal boat to Atani, Onitsha and other areas to see around. The missionaries chose to settle down in Onitsha and consequently dropped entirely the initial plan of establishing their mission in Lokoja.
Angelo Chidi Unegbu (20.11.2021)
*Picture below is Fr Joseph Lutz, the head of the mission.