Isaac Oluwole

Isaac Oluwole 1893 photo
Elliot & Fry, c.1893 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Isaac Oluwole, Bishop of the Anglican Church, was born June 5, 1852 in Abeokuta to Ijesha parents.With the nomination of J.B. Wood, Bishop Oluwole was among the first batch of three students who took a Bachelor’s degree at Fourah Bay College in 1879. In same year, he became the second Principal of CMS Grammar School after the first Principal, Babington Macaulay, died in 1878. He was ordained a deacon in 1881, as a school principal. Oluwole took the least popular stance when church nationalists such as James Johnson led the clamor for an African bishop, following the death of Ajayi Crowther in 1891.

On June 29, 1893, in St. Paul’s Cathedral London, Oluwole was consecrated Assistant Bishop of Western Equatorial Africa, a position derided by James Johnson as “Half Bishop” even though Oluwole was in direct charge of the Ijebu area. Oluwole retired in that year from the headship of Nigeria’s first secondary school. He was a highly cultivated man and his wit is easily reflected in his concise correspondences. On July 22 1932, four months after writing a letter of voluntary retirement to Bishop Melville Jones in consequence of failing health as a result of old age, Bishop Isaac Oluwole died. His son, Ladipo, who studied Medicine at Glasgow, is considered the father of public Health in Nigerian medical history.

Isaac Oluwole in his latter years
Oluwole in his latter years. Source: National Archives, U.I., Ibadan
Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer