St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church

The oldest Christian church built in Nigeria is still standing to this day, even though it has been set on fire and attacked multiple times.

The St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in Northern Nigeria has important historical significance to the people of Nigeria. The church was originally built in 1929 by the Church Missionary Society, also known as Anglicans. This church is important to the region because it is the longest standing church, and it was the first church built in Northern Nigeria.
The church has been attacked by Islamic extremists during the Northern Nigerian riots of 1987, even being set on fire during those times. With Nigeria’s population slightly being more Muslim than Christian tensions existed heavily “…Christians interviewed this week said that all of the city’s 75 or so churches had been burned.” The riots caused a ton of destruction throughout the city. The St. Bartholomew’s church being built with mud was able to make it through the fires, potentially even making the mud stronger. The people of Wusasa were determined to keep their faith and preserve their church. The church was built with local building materials and in the traditional Hausa architecture. It was built with mud, cow dung and grass. One interesting feature of the church is that when it is hot outside the outside of the church will be cool and when it is cold outside, the inside of the church will be warm. The way that the church was specifically built was intended to correspond to the environment in which the people were living in. The architects that built and designed the church were very smart individuals who had a plan on how to make a church survive so long in their environment.
It is said that Christianity was erected first in the Northern Nigeria region of Wusasa. This led to the building of a hospital and a school in the region, ultimately leading to the first Northern Nigerian to qualify as a medical doctor. The first Nigerian pharmacist and pediatrician were also born and educated in Wusasa. The region has produced many influential Nigerians who have not stopped attending and contributing to the church’s development. This is a main reason why the church today, is still standing strong. Former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon attended the church as a child and lived very close to it as well. Growing up, his father was a catechist of the church. This church has a very important meaning to not only Gowon, but many others that have family ties to this city. The historical significance that exits is with the roots of Christianity in Northern Nigeria. These people were some of the first Christians to be practicing religion in a church in the country. On the surroundings of the church you can see tombs of important missionaries, making the church more significant and sentimental to the people of the region. This makes the church an important development of the region.
Unlike many churches today, the St. Bartholomew’s Anglican church has not been heavily renovated and modernized. Some people speculate that it is because it has an important historical significance to the people living in the region. The church has many unique architectural features which could be another reason why the church has not been modernized. It could be a way to inform the younger generations how traditional architecture looked. The only modern touch to the church has been the iron roofing. The original roof was not altered, but rather worked around. The new iron roofing sits on top of the original mud roofing. The seats have coverings over them today as an effort to preserve the church, not modernize it.
An important event that existed within the church was the inauguration of the church as a diocese. Stated by the bishop “it is a landmark that the first church in Northern Nigeria has been given a diocese of its own with a bishop.” This gave the church much relevance within the region. The building has attracted tourists from all over the world. The most notable tourist to visit the church was Prince Charles of Wales in 2006. It is very important to preserve this church. This could be an important historical site that people from all over the world would love to come to. The bishop of the church stated, “I think the federal government has to take tourism seriously, preserve our monuments, our museums because a nation without history is no nation.” The Nigerian government needs to make sure to preserve it, in order to preserve the nations heritage.