|Urhobo Historical Society|
|THE LIFE AND WORK OF AGORI IWE|
FIRST BISHOP OF BENIN DIOCESE
Sam U. Erivwo, Ph.D.
|Originally Published in 1998 |
Reproduced in URHOBO WAADO by kind permission of Professor Sam U. Erivwo
AGORI AS A PHYSICIAN: REMINISCENCE
As a pastor, Agori also featured as a physician. It will be recalled that when Jesus sent out his disciples, they were instructed to go out, preach the good news of the Kingdom, heal the sick, cast out demons; freely they had received, and freely they should give. The final instruction to Peter by the risen Lord was “Feed my lamb; tend my sheep”.
A pastor in the 1940’s in Urhoboland, as in many other parts of the world, when western medicine was at its rudimentary stage, had the multiple responsibility of preaching on Sundays to his congregation, organising Sunday schools, having young ones taught and visiting the sick, the lonely and the bereaved, to comfort and pray for them. Consequently, the parishioners looked up to the pastor as one to provide solutions to the myriads of problems facing the rural community with little or no health care or medical facilities.
As a child, this writer was carried by his parents from their village, Iwhrenene, to Otovwodo to meet the Rev. Agori Iwe. They went in great anxiety, their only son was very sick; his stomach distended; the temperature abnormally high. The child may even have fainted a number of times. Their anxiety could be better imagined than described.
They arrived at Otovwodo, in the parsonage, located then in James Okpanovwe Adda’s compound, to meet their pastor, Agori Iwe. They must have dropped the child at their pastor’s feet, crying “help! help! help! This child is dying again!” Agori must have called his wife, Ruth, to please bring a basin with some water in it quickly. The child was laid across the basin of water, and Agori brought an instrument for enima, a long rubber tube, with one end of it like electric bulb, inserted it into the child’s anus, and compressed the bulb-like end of the tube, and released it, and action he repeated several times. Within a short time the basin was filled with watery substance full of very tiny worms. The child heaved a sigh of relief, and was given back to his mother. He had been dewormed. Agori also gave some tablets to the child’s parents to administer to him on arriving at home.
There is no telling, how many such sick children must have been rushed to Agori as a pastor in the 1940’s; how many parents must have been greatly relieved, parents who would have lost their children but for the health care and medical assistance given by the Pastor, Agori Iwe.
It is perhaps not surprising, and in fact understandable, that Agori Iwe’s surviving first son, Cornelius, should study medicine, and win the hearts of many people by giving them medical care and being sympathetic with them as his father had done to his parishioners.