Where Joseph Merrick was Mentioned … and his Pioneer Missionary Work in Cameroon

Cameroon_flag
Flag of Cameroon

Below are more descriptions of Joseph Merrick, the Jamaican Baptist Minister, and his pioneering missionary work on the coast of Cameroon, by some of his contemporaries, or in the case of Emily Saker, the daughter of his colleague Alfred Saker. Enjoy!

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“In 1844 Merrick found King William more accommodating. The following year, Merrick initiated work along the coast, opening a station among the Isubu of Bimbia and two stations at Aqua Town and Bell Town along the Wouri River estuary. Unaware of difficulties that made the river largely unnavigable, he hoped that the system of creeks might ultimately provide access to the interior. However, Merrick´s first task was to “prepare the way for the preaching of the gospel among the Isubu and the Dualas.” This he did by forming churches and schools and learning the Isubu and Duala [Douala] languages. A gifted linguist, he soon was able to preach in both tongues. He arranged to print some texts and scripture.” Memoir of Joseph Merrick, Missionary to Africa by J. Clarke, London: Benjamin L. Green.
n.d. Journals. BMS Archives A/2. 1850.

Cameroon_Victoria 1889_Thomas Comber book
Bird’s eye view of then Victoria, now Limbe, and Ambas Bay, Cameroon, in 1884

“The Rev. Joseph Merrick was a native of Jamaica, and of African descent. He was educated in the Society’s schools, and as a youth began in 1837 to preach. He was soon after associated with his father in the pastorate of the church at Jericho. He entered on mission work in Africa in 1843, and laboured most diligently among the Isubu tribe on the Bimbia river. He quickly learned to speak their language with great readiness and precision, and translated a portion of the New Testament into the Isubu tongue. It was partially printed by himself, but was completed at press by Mr. Saker. He died on the 22nd October, 1849, on his passage to England.” Alfred Saker, Missionary to Africa: A Biography, by E.B. Underhill, Baptist Missionary Society, UK, 1884 p.52

“Having set” in order the things wanting in the church “at Clarence [Malabo], Mr. Saker paid a brief visit to Bimbia, where he collected the manuscripts and Isubu translations of the lamented Merrick. Leaving directions for their printing with Joseph Fuller,… ” Alfred Saker, Missionary to Africa: A Biography, by E.B. Underhill, Baptist Missionary Society, UK, 1884 p.52

Cameroun_Joseph Merrick_at_Isubu_funeral in 1845
Joseph Merrick at an Isubu funeral in Bimbia (1845)

“On the mainland, north from Fernando Po [Bioko], towered the volcanic mountain of Cameroons [Mount Cameroon]. Its highest peak-then unexplored-lifted itself 13,700 feet into the blue. Its spurs and outlying hills reached to the sea frontage. On one of its headlands Mr. Merrick was even now at work reducing the language of that particular people – the Isubus – to writing.” Alfred Saker Pioneer of the Cameroon by Emily M. Saker, 2nd Edition London: The Carey Press, 1929, p.42

“The time which had been spent in Bimbia had not been wasted. Earnestly had Mr. Saker co-operated with Mr. Merrick in labour for the welfare of the Bimbians. Inland villages had been visited with the glad tidings of great joy ; chiefs had been seen and taught ; the idlers in the market-places, the fishermen by the seashore, … ” Alfred Saker Pioneer of the Cameroon by Emily M. Saker, 2nd Edition London: The Carey Press, 1929, p.44

Cameroon_Limbe_Victoria_1908 painting
1908 painting by R. Hellgrewe of the town of Victoria (now known as Limbe) – Mt Cameroon can be seen in the background

“Mr. Saker was detained in Bimbia for some weeks owing to storms. During his detention he printed at the press some Isubu manuscripts left by the late Mr. Merrick.” Alfred Saker Pioneer of the Cameroon by Emily M. Saker, 2nd Edition London: The Carey Press, 1929, p.119

“On the Friday I made my way to the home of our excellent brother Duckett, about seven miles distant. You will remember him as one of the band who sailed with Mr Clarke in the Chilmark from Jamaica to Africa; he was the most able and devoted of the number. My dear wife knew him well as a faithful co-worker with the sainted Merrick.” The Missionary Herald: Containing Intelligence, at Large, of the Proceedings, The Native Pastors of Jamaica, p. 52 1882

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