The Araya Bible Site


The intriguing story of the Araya Bible Site is that before 1911, there were no reports of any Christian activity in any of the Isoko towns. It was Reverend J.D. Atkins and his counterpart, Reverend H. Proctor, who took the first known gospel of Christ to Oleh, the headquarters of Isoko land and thereafter to other parts of the land.

It was at such period in 1914 when Mrs. Esievo and other women were hurrying up to ferry their yield when suddenly the woman discovered a large Bible and a supposedly letter on the tubers of yams spread on the sandy beach. The yams and everything else were soaked and dripping with water but the open Bible and the accompanying letter were dry. Wonders? The illiterate women, who were pagans, shouted and hollered just in case anybody had forgotten the book in a rainy forest and, when nobody showed up, they decided to protect the mysterious find as best as they could and carried it home along with their yams. Back home, Mrs. Esievo, still dripping wet, hurriedly, in fear, perhaps, took the Bible to the only known Christian convert in the community, Ewhoboh, to find out if he was the owner of the Bible; but no.

The mystery continued and unfortunately at the time, Aitken, a friend of Ewhoboh and the only man perceived to be in the position to unravel the mystery of a ‘Fallen Bible’ was on vacation in Europe. That left the bewildered community with no choice, after a protracted debate over what to do, than to take the mysterious Holy Bible to Patani where Rev. Henry Proctor was in charge. They therefore dispatched a delegation made up of Ewhoboh, Mr. Esievo whose wife found the Bible, one of his cousins, Mr. Emeriovo, and two other new converts, Messrs Akanabia and Ekriama, to visit Patani with the strange find.


On getting to Patani, only Ewhoboh was allowed to climb up to see Proctor while the rest of the delegation waited downstairs. When Ewhoboh eventually returned, told the other members of the delegation that the white man asked the team to return in another forthnight for a solution to the nagging question. Not satisfied, the others asked Ewhoboh to go back to the white man to get the Bible, arguing that if he wanted them to return in two weeks, they must go back with the Bible and come with it on their second voyage.

Valid argument! But the Oyibo will not have any of that effrontery and ordered the locals to get out of his home or be shown the way out; so they returned dejected. The delegation returned two weeks later to Patani only to be told that Proctor had proceeded on his own vacation to Britain. It was later learnt that the reverend could not make it to Britain as he reportedly died during the voyage. Efforts by the locals, especially, Ewhoboh, to get Aitken to intervene proved abortive because Proctor was superior to Aitken and therefore had no moral authority to question what his boss had done in his absence.

The site now attracts thousands of Christian pilgrims yearly, especially during the Easter period. The Araya Bible Site is in Isoko South LGA, and can be accessed from Warri through Ughelli and Oleh, and also from Asaba through Kwale and then Oleh.