FIRST BISHOP OF BENIN DIOCESE
Sam U. Erivwo, Ph.D.
Reproduced in URHOBO WAADO by kind permission of Professor Sam U. Erivwo
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OF LATE RT. REV. AGORI IWE"
1. COURAGE: The late Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe was a very courageous
man. His courage is seen in every sphere of his work and life. It should be
noted here that when he was made a Bishop of Benin Diocese,
These are records of series of attempts made on his life, but prominent among others was when a group of assassins came at mid night. He shot in defense and killed one of them. His courage made him to effect discipline on those who erred both Clergy and Laity alike. He did not mind whose ass is gored. He stood on justice.
2. DISCIPLINARIAN: It was proverbial that the late Bishop was a disciplinarian. On matters of discipline his children were not left out. He made sure that they did what was right and inculated high discipline on the children. It must also be noted that the Church under his episcopacy was very disciplined. The tenets of the Church were well adhered to, Mission Teachers were well handled and they were encourage to keep the Christian faith in the school and the church. The teachers in their stations were Teachers and Catechists.
3. PRAYER: The late Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe was a man of prayer and had strong faith. As his Chaplain, I remember an occasion when I was sick, he was told of my sickness, he quickly came, prayed for men and I moved out of the fire side and went about my duties. His faith could not be overemphasized, it was not diluted, the statement of Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, I will serve the Lord”, was always in his lips. Though he came from a pagan background, he never in anyway reflected on what he had forsaken for the sake of Christ.
4. GENEROSITY: The Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe was know for generosity. Even while he was an Archdeacon in Ughelli, his door was opened to everybody. He treated his sisters’ and brothers’ children as his own. There was no discrimination. Among the early people that were educated in his place, they owed their education to him. He made sure that the only sister’s children were all educated and every one was staying with him.
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“AGORI IWE AS I KNEW HIM”
Agori Iwe as I knew him, was an elegant handsome man of fair complexion,
love inspiring personality and friendly disposition. He hailed from Okuama
town in Eghwa (Ewu) clan, in the riverain area of the Urhobo-land in
the Delta state of
He was an impressive broad minded religious leader of his time, with a sense of bearing and devotion to duty. He dedicated himself and life to the service of God from his youthful age and did not deviate from it. He was a symbol of peace, humility and love in winning the lost souls back to Christ.
He was a product of St. Andrew’s College,
Oye-a renowned Anglican Institute for the training of teachers, catechists
and clergymen. Agori Iwe made optimum use of the training and facilities
this great institute offered him. He acquired technical know how in typing
and bookkeeping and put them into practice when occasion demanded them
in his office. He also acquired technique in translation. He was a translator
of a rare calibre. He translated and compiled the first portable Urhobo
prayer Book from English to Urhobo Language. He also translated
He was the first Urhobo trained catechist and priest and his area of work spanned across the length and breadth of the Urhoboland. He had to reach some of his flocks by trekking, cycling or padding, beaming with smiles and cheerfulness.
He was the manager of the Anglican (C.M.S.) Schools in his domain. He was a good administrator and upheld the policies and tenets of the Anglican communion in his territory.
In appreciation of his good services,
the Anglican church Authority sent him to
Agori Iwe worked in many other places
outside the Urhobo tribe. He worked in the Ibo-Land when he returned
Agori Iwe had no inordinate desire for wealth. He did not enrich himself with the income of the Church. He kept the true accounts of the Church money wherever he worked. He rendered his services without asking for rewards. He was satisfied with his wages.
He had no inordinate ambition for promotion. He was a faithful steward with a clear vision of his calling and sense of bearing. God blessed him and rewarded him with constant meritorious promotions in all the cadres or ranks and files he attained in the church. He was a teacher, a Catechist, Archdeacon and Bishop. He was the first Bishop of the Benin Diocese.
He was a man of great foresight. All Saints’ Pro-Cathedral Ughelli was a child of his brain work. He was an apostle of peace, contentment, good influence and wise counsel. He served God and humanity in faith and truth. We remember him fondly for his sincerity and beaming smiles.
Chief Daniel Ojije Ohwovoriole
RT. REV. AGORI IWE
I knew Agori Iwe in 1928 at
Otovwodo Ughelli when I was living with my aunt Late Mrs. Atarhe Omosiyevwe.
I attended the
Agori Iwe loved his pupils and had great concern for them. In the evenings, he went round the homes of his pupils in Otovwodo. Our mother Atarhe would always tell us to read our A B C D the Queen Premier in the evenings as Agori Iwe would be going round. Whenever he visited he saw us holding or reading our A B C D. the four of us were Ezekiel Omosiyevwe Kakitie Okorigba, Omokoro Duvwioma and myself.
Agori Iwe was a great disciplinarian. Any pupil who misbehaved at School, and any who was reported by the parents of bad behaviour at home was severely punished at School. The sight of his can was a terror in the School.
In 1933 he was posted to
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Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe As A Manager of Schools
When he was made the Bishop of Benin
Diocese, he became the Proprietor of all the Anglican Primary and
RT. REV. AGORI IWE’S CONCERN FOR THE CHURCH
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few”. About seven years after the consecration of Rt. Rev. Agori Iwe, the need to have more Priests arose. The Bishop prayed, selected and ordained many non stipendiary Priest all over the Benin Diocese. At a stage too, the Bishop appealed to Archdeaconries to sponsor the training of priests to the theological Colleges as the Diocese had no funds to do so then. Such an appeal was made to the then Urhobo Archdeaconry. Ughelli District took the challenge, and they made an appeal to one of their illustrious sons Chief Michael Ibru who sponsored the training of Rev. Canon A.O. Kaku.
MY MAN, BISHOP AGORI-IWE
When however more and more damaging stories about me continued to make the rounds, I decided to brave it and go to see the Bishop to explain myself. Yes, I should brave it, but I had to go with my wife, for a good measure. We did not see him, and I was not unhappy about it. I finally decided to write. And I did. Then (mirabile dictu:) a letter came from the Bishop within a week! This letter completely overwhelmed me for its simplicity, frankness, christian charitableness and humility. Here was the Bishop writing to his “Dear Paul; acknowledging his letter of explanation, deprecating the discipline and ignoble transfer as “a very unfortunate incident for which we are all sorry”; asking poor Paul to “forget all the past and settle down to work”. Perhaps as an earnest of his good will, the Bishop went further to pray that “God may help your work, so that the school may grow to the glory of God and to the blessing of the children.” He did not stop there. He pleaded, “please forget and forgive, these are temptations of the devil.” Finally, he threw in into the bargain a Pauline blessing as a parting gift. “God be with you”.
This letter changed my whole attitude towards the man, a man I had been fearing and avoiding. So, he was not, for all his size, a tyrant? He had a heart, a Christlike hear, of penitence? Who was I a young employee, a classroom teacher, to be treated with such civility; tenderness, understanding and dignity? Who with such civility; tenderness, understanding and dignity? Who would have thought that man, a Bishop, could apologies to his employee?
I will continue to remember
the memory of this great man of God, whose prayers and blessings for
my future seemed to have been answered, for did the subject of this piece
not later excel? as principal in a private proprietory
school; did he not proceed to excel in the civil service as Secretary
of the Bendel State Board of education, Director of the Headmasters Institute
(HIB) retiring at the apex of his public service as Chief Inspector of
education? was he not sought after and hired
as the first Education Manager of the Delta Steel Company Ltd (DSC) Ovwian/Aladja,
who established its educational system and that unmatched
May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
The Rev. Canon Paul Eviano Ozako
Bishop’s court, Ughelli
*Mirabile dictu (Latin)
= Wonderful to relate, most unexpectedly.
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THE BISHOP AGORI IWE C.F.R., M.B.E., J.P.
A BISHOP OF DISTINCTION
Trained in St. Andrew’s College Oyo as a catechist and after his divinity courses in Awka College and ordination as a priest, and having ministered as such for many years, he was consecrated as the first Bishop of Benin Diocese on St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th 1961) in St. Andrew’s Church Warri. The name St. Andrew rings in his ministry and he distinguished himself like Andrew who first found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1 v 41 & 42). He found and brought many souls to the saving grace of Jesus.
He distinguished himself
as first in many ways: the first Urhobo Priest, the first Urhobo Bishop
and the first Bishop of the Benin Diocese. At his consecration, Archdeacon
W.D. Burne had this to say of Agori Iwe; that he is a Bishop whose initials
are A.I., and in all respect he is A.I. in distinction. He foresaw that
the new Bishop Agori Iwe would distinguish himself as AI in many ways.
He was a man of great stature. Like Saul the first kind of
As an Administrator
The newly created Benin
Diocese was an amalgamation on two halves; one from the Ondo Benin Diocese
and the other from the Diocese on the
Primary schools and
secondary schools were opened. Both old and new ones all over the Diocese
were very well equipped, staffed and managed. The church accepted the
responsibility for the welfare and running of the educational institutions.
The academic standard was high, the discipline
in schools was good. The moral behaviour of pupils, students and staff
was rooted on Christian ideals. The government of the
As a Disciplinarian
In matters of church
discipline he is also par excellence. There was order, which is the bedrock
of discipline, in all the churches. He guided the flock aright to the
green pastures and led them with the Word of God. Any strayed sheep he
brought back to the fold. He did not hesitate to discipline the laity
and the clergy who erred in matters of doctrine and practices. He saw
to it that he exterminated erroneous doctrine and teaching of the christian faith wherever and whenever it reared its
ugly head which is masqueraded with Christian robes. Drastic steps were
taken against any acts of rebellion from any quarters. As the chief shepherd
and ruler in the church in the Diocese of Benin, he guarded the faith as
the chief minister of the Word and Sacraments in his Diocese. He presided
over the church in Benin Diocese and kept the congregations under control
with complete respect from all the sundry. He
enjoyed a favourable reputation from the government circle and other
established traditional churches in the
It is to his credit that the church under his care at his time did not experience any wide spread acts of rebellion and indiscipline.
As touching Hospitality
In this regard he is
also AI. A very hospitable bishop. He extended
hospitality to anyone who visited the Bishopscourt from parts of the diocese.
He once humorously remarked that his stipend was more than that of any
permanent Secretary of the Government because what he received from the
church members was really much. This much again, he expended on lavished
hospitality. Mrs. Agori Iwe takes all the credit in this respect. She and
her team of maid servants were always preparing the refreshment and meals
for the strangers and visitors. The fire never went out from the kitchen.
This is most amazing. The Bible says, let brotherly love continue. Do
not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained
angels unaware. (Heb. 12:1 & 2)/ this rings true in the heart of many
strangers and visitors to the Bishopscourt in
They were soul-winners
who caught sinners to bring them to the Saviour. They so lived that people
were attracted to the Lord. He had a clear understanding of what his
basic gift is and went through is ministry for the lord achieving maximum
effectiveness with minimum weariness. By his management Agori blended
the people and their activities together in a way that successfully contributed
to the growth and development of the Benin Diocese. The first Diocesan
bishop of Benin Diocese, was AI.
Rev. Canon F.M. E. Vese (MON)