This is story back in time. It is a story of a man who lived like an emperor, who lived as if the world would never end but about whom very little is known. This piece attempts to amalgamate the most reliable information found on him.
He proclaimed himself as Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour and the Lord. While some viewed him as raving mad, his ‘madness’ attracted hordes of devoted worshippers to his territory. Soon, news spread all over and beyond Eastern Nigeria, of a strange man named Edidem Bassey, revered by his followers and branded the Jesus of Ikot-Ekpene.
Today, the city of Ikot-Ekpene is located in Akwa Ibom State, a state that has the densest concentration of churches on earth. Ikot-Ekpene is regarded as the cultural and political centre of the Annangs and Ibibios and it is represented in the Nigerian Senate by a former governor of the state, Godswill Obot Akpabio Now, let’s roll back in time.
When the Christian missionaries arrived Nigeria, Ikot-Ekpene was one of the first destinations. And they arrived with fire and brimstone, their goal was to convert everyone from what they regarded as African paganism to Christianity.
The influence of Christianity is still very strong and visible in Ikot-Ekpene till date. However, since the native people already had their own set of traditional beliefs, what later emerged over time in some areas of Ikot-Ekpene was a blend of Christianity and African traditional religions, leading to a curious strand of syncretism that produced people like Edidem Bassey.