Ibiam, Francis Akanu

Ibiam, Francis Akanu
( 190 6-1955 )
   Nigerian medical missionary and ecumenical leader
   In 1927, Francis Akanu Ibiam became the first African to attend the medical school at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Following graduation, he returned to Nigeria, and in 1936 founded Abiriba hospital, where he served as director for many years. In 1957, he added duties as a physician at the Church of Scotland's mission hospital at Itu.
   Ibiam established the Student Christian Movement in Nigeria in 1937, served a term as president of the Nigerian Council of Churches (1955-58), and became a member of the standing committee of the International Missionary Council (1957-58). He chaired the provisional committee that established the All Africa Conference of Churches. By the time he addressed the World Council of Churches (WCC) assembly in New Delhi in 1961, he had earned a reputation as a critic of Western missions. Most missionaries, he said, were "guardians of white supremacy." He was elected one of the presidents of the WCC that year.
   In the 1960s, the British appointed him governor of Eastern Nigeria, and he was knighted for his accomplishments. When the Biafrian War broke out, he sided with the rebels and was forced into exile in Geneva, though he was later invited back to participate in the reconstruction and reconciliation process. In protest against the British taking sides against the Biafrans, he renounced his knighthood.
   See also Africa, sub-Saharan.
   Further reading:
   ■ D. C. Nwafo, Born to Serve: The Biography of Dr. Akanu Ibiam (Lagos, Nigeria: Macmillan, 1988)
   ■ Donald K. Smith, "Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam," in A. Scott Moreau, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 2000).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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