Paul Gofo Gunen Gindiri
1935 to 1996
Evangelical Church of West Africa / New Life for All / Gospel Team Nigeria
Paul Gindiri, as he was popularly known in northern Nigeria, was a confrontational preacher from his conversion to his death in 1996. He saw himself as an Apostle Paul to his generation. As such, he hardly used his surname, Gindiri, the name of his hometown, or his native name, Gofo, given to him by a Fulani neighbor.
He was not given to diplomacy in his preaching and attacked both Muslims and bad political leaders in Nigeria, a country he saw as a battleground between Christians and Muslims. When a Muslim governor gave Muslims a space in the public motor park along Bauchi Road in Jos, Paul Gindiri demanded that Christians also be given a piece of land in the same area to build a church. The governor gave a comparable piece of land to the Christians who built a church there. Even though no one worships in the building (2004), Paul Gindiri had made his point: what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Paul Gindiri was one of the greatest Christian revivalists of all times in northern Nigeria. His revivalism came at an auspicious time. The Gindiri spiritual revivals of the 1970s spread like wildfire on the Plateau and throughout central Nigeria. The churches were hungry for the Word and huge crowds gathered at Paul Gindiri's crusades. Many Christians in northern Nigeria owe their spiritual renewal to these crusades.
Paul Gunen Gindiri was born to Gunen Saidu Sedet and Magajiya Naru on March 3, 1935 in Punbush (Kasuwan Ali), a village near Gindiri among the Pyem of Mangu Local Government area of Plateau State in central Nigeria. Magajiya Naru was Sedet's second wife. Paul Gindiri was the second son among fourteen children (seven boys and seven girls). Both parents were traditionalists.
The Pyem (or Fyem) are proud of their history. They consider themselves immigrants from Gobir in Sokoto emirate in the northwest of Nigeria. They emigrated from there and settled in Bauchi but then the jihad spearheaded by Usman dan Fodio in the early nineteenth century pushed them out of Bauchi. They then settled in Pyangiji and dispersed to various other locations. One of their principal settlements is Gindiri where the SUM missionaries began to settle in 1934. In the pre-colonial period, the Pyem were middlemen in the slave trade between their immediate neighbours, especially the Maghavul and the Ron, and the Hausa/ Fulani of the Bauchi emirate. Paul Gindiri's father and his siblings had Maghavul names because their ancestors had moved out of Gindiri and settled among the Maghavul in Kumbun. Later some of Paul Gindiri's clan returned to Gindiri while the others stayed back and were assimilated into the Maghavul ethnic group. Before Paul was born, his father had moved from Gindiri and resettled in Punbush.
Paul Gindiri probably heard the gospel from the first Pyem converts, Akila Wantu Nachunga and Mallam Tagwai. He enrolled in the mission primary school where he studied for only four years because his father refused to continue to pay his school fees, preferring that he stay at home and help him on the farm. After Paul dropped out of school he took an appointment in the mission compound as an apprentice mason. Richard Bruce has shown how the Pyem converted to Islam or Christianity through social contacts in colonial times. We are not certain if Paul Gindiri became a Christian through his apprenticeship in Gindiri but, in any case, permanent spiritual transformation took place later. Not satisfied with his apprenticeship, Paul confided to his mother that he was going to the city to learn driving. He arrived in Jos in 1949.
With no money to pay for driving tutorials, Paul took a mining job in the Amalgamated Tin Mines of Nigeria (ATMN). While working there he enrolled in the driving school and not only learned driving but also automobile mechanics, skills which were invaluable assets to him later on. He...
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