Our History

Records of the Calabar Mission

Dublin, Ireland, 1822, the 17-year old son of Susan Hope and Alexander Waddell, both members of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, expressed an early interest in joining the ministry; however, he was discouraged in doing so due to a speech impediment. Young Hope Masterton Waddell never gave up on his dream. He was eventually apprenticed with a druggist before leaving to study for the Church. Three years later, he was accepted as a candidate for the mission in 1825 by the Scottish Mission Society, and in 1827 entered the United Secession Hall. Following Waddell's ordainment in 1829, he married Jessie Simpson and together they embark on a mission to Jamaica with the Church of Scotland Mission. Here he worked with the enslaved population of Cornwall until 1831, when the Baptist War slave revolt broke out. Many blame the revolt on the Christian and Baptist missions due to giving the slaves ideas about equality and freedom, and in its aftermath Waddell begins pushing to begin a mission to Old Calabar. The Calabar mission, with its origins in Jamaica was led by Rev. Hope M. Waddell. In 1846 a party landed in Old Calabar, now in Nigeria, and were received by a welcoming party consisting the King of Creek Town who also told the missionaries the reluctance of some of the chiefs to foreign missions on Efik soil. They were given space at a location called Mission Hill overlooking the Calabar River between Henshaw Town and Cobham Town. The mission held Sunday meetings at the compound of King Eyo Honesty II of Creek Town and in also Duke Town at the compound of the king of supportive chiefs. The missionary group was backed by the United Secession Church but the mission was brought under the supervision of the United Presbyterians in 1847. Waddell remained at the mission until 1859. He was joined by William Anderson, who had begun his career in Jamaica in 1839 then moved to Calabar in 1849 where he was to remain a dominant figure until 1891, and by Hugh Goldie who became the mission's leading Efik scholar and translator. Progress was at first slow, the mission concentrated partly on education and partly on preaching by which they hoped to effect both religious and social change. They were particularly concerned to alter such practices as ritual killing, the killing of twins and poison ordeals. In his attempts to stop the practice of infanticide in the area, Rev. Waddell pushed towards the building of a settlement for twins and their mothers so as to isolate them from the rest of the population, and allowing them to live. In addition, he managed to procure various agreements to abolish human sacrifice in the surrounding area. He also worked to limit the spread of what was most likely yellow fever in the villages, through use of calomel. While in Old Calabar he learned Efik and built a relationship with King Eyo Honesty II. Following a leave of absence in 1853, the relationship between Waddell and his colleagues at the mission began to become strained, a possible cause for his eventual retirement from the mission in 1858, although officially due to illness. Church membership remained small, but in the 1880s some growth was evident and the mission began a period of expansion of which the appointment of Mary Slessor to Okoyong was part.

Foot Prints of the White Queen

On April 10, 1846, the first group of Christian missionaries led by the Rev. Hope Waddell arrived Calabar. They were sent by the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland Mission in response to the request of Calabar chiefs. When ill-health forced Hope Waddell to leave the field for good, the most distinguished worker to join the field was Mary Slessor, a Scottish lady who arrived in Calabar on September 11, 1876. Starting as a mill girl in Dundee, she ended up as a magistrate in Calabar. Her work and activities in the Lower Cross River Region arguably opened a significant part of the Lower Cross River Region to Europeans. When Southern Nigeria became a British Protectorate on January 1, 1900, Mary was the first female magistrate in the British Empire and a tactful diplomatic emissary. Also acting in the capacity of Vice-Consul for Calabar Rivers, Mary Slessor’s activities were responsible for the extension of trade in the region as she was also saddled with the responsibility of working out customs arrangements as well as the establishment of postal and treasury departments in the area under her jurisdiction. Although she was of the Church of Scotland Mission, she enjoyed a degree of celebrity status that extended beyond the Church of Scotland. Geographically, Mary operated around three contiguous regions and peoples - the Ibibio, Efik and Igbo. From Creek Town (in present day Cross River State) through Itu (in present day Akwa Ibom State) to Arochukwu (in present day Abia State), Mary Slessor left the imprint of an industrialist, teacher, missionary and magistrate. Indeed, for every community in the Lower Cross River Region that Mary Slessor passed through or settled, she left a bold imprint of social, economic, religious and humanitarian changes. Her humanitarian showmanship engraves her on the same epitaph of charity as Mother Theresa and Florence Nightingale. Arguably, one of Mary’s most remarkable achievements is in relation to the protection, accommodation, adoption of twins and the subsequent prohibition of their killing. By her colossal and myth-breaking contributions to evangelism, charity work, educational and health services, she registered her foot-prints indelibly in the annals of Nigerian history and also publicized Nigeria in the map of the world. In the field of education, it was her appeal to the United Presbyterian Mission in Scotland that resulted in the establishment of the famous Hope Waddell Training Institution, Calabar, the first post–primary institution in Eastern Nigeria and the first Comprehensive School in Nigeria in 1895. She also facilitated the establishment of several primary schools in places such as: Okoyong, Itu, Ibiono and other parts of the Lower Cross River Region. In all, her services traversed the Executive, Judicial and Legislative arms of government in the Lower Cross River Region. As part of the domestic and international responses to her activities and legacies, her effigy adorns Mary Slessor Road in Calabar and her image adorns the Scottish Ten Pounds. There also exist some domestic and international philanthropic foundations dedicated to her humanitarian role.

The Early Days

The Scottish missionary Mary Mitchell Slessor, who had done much work with the Efik people around Calabar, was a driving force behind the establishment of the Institution. Edinburgh was hesitant about accepting Slessor's demand to establish an industrial training center, but eventually decided to set up an institute on similar lines to its two existing ones in Africa, Lovedale Institute in South Africa and Livingstonia in Nyasaland. Robert Laws, a United Presbyterian minister who had been involved with both of these institutions for a long time, was sent to make a feasibility study. Laws expressed complete confidence that the success of the other two schools could be replicated in Calabar. In his book, Hope Waddell Training Institution - Life & Work (1894 - 1978), the Late E. U. Aye, a former Principal of the school, notes: "In February 1895, Sir Claude Macdonald was in England to submit his report on the Institution to the British Parliament at Westminster. He made the following comments: A most important and useful departure has been made by the Presbyterian Missionary Society in starting industrial schools in Old Calabar. These Schools are assisted by a yearly grant of £200 from the revenue. A valuable piece of foreshore for the erection of saw mills, etc., and an excellent site for schools has also been granted free to the Society by the Government of the Protectorate. "The Board of the Mission in Scotland decided and requested the Synod of the United Presbyterian Church to commemorate the work of the Reverend Hope Masterton Waddell in Calabar by naming the Institution - Hope Waddell Training Institution. Reverend Waddell himself, a grand old pensioner aged ninety-one years, was living at home in Dublin. Unfortunately, he never heard of the proposal nor lived to see the monument in his name. He died on 18th of April, 1895, two days after the request was made. And no more deserving epitaph on him than what the Record bore on his behalf: 'No worthier wreath could the Synod lay upon his honoured grave than it has done by associating his name with what we trust will be for many years to come a fountain of ever growing blessing to Western Africa'." The first school building was a prefabricated classroom block of corrugated iron sheets and Scandinavian pitch pine, built by a Glasgow firm and shipped to Calabar where it was assembled in 1894. By March 1895 teaching had commenced. The school provided practical training, primarily tailored towards male students, in carpentry, masonry, blacksmithing, coopering, naval engineering, brickmaking, bricklaying, and other crafts. The school maintained a vessel on the Calabar River, "The Diamond" for use by students studying maritime subjects. The region of Calabar called Diamond Hill takes its name from the vessel. In 1898 the school began teaching tailoring and bakery, with the products sold in the city markets. Agricultural students who worked on maintaining the botanical gardens and public parks in Calabar were given free board, clothing and tuition and some pocket money. They showed that new plants to the region including mango, banana, coffee and especially lemon and orange could flourish, although local farmers resisted these innovations. In 1902, Rev. James Luke introduced soccer into the timetable despite opposition by parents, who thought it was a waste of time. Luke defended the sport as being healthy and teaching children cooperation and self-discipline. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, many Hope Waddell graduates moved to Lagos, from 1906 the capital of the new Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, to take white-collar jobs with the government. They brought with them their love of soccer, fostering the growth of teams in the city. Luke, who had picked up the game during seven years as a missionary in Jamaica, could thus perhaps be credited with introducing soccer to Nigeria.

A Rich Heritage

Like sharpened colored pencils, a growing number of neighborhoods and communities contain a complex mix of races, cultures, languages, and religious affiliations. At the same time, the widening gap between the rich and the poor is creating greater social class diversity. For these reasons, Hope Waddell Training Institution (HWTI) has for 124 years consistently provided a conducive academic environment where all types of people, students and teachers alike, can share a balance of diversity amidst a rich Christian heritage. With top-rated teaching staff and state-of-the-art facilities, our school offers world-class education that is obtainable anywhere without breaking the bank. Join us as we continue to write history with a firm resolve to change humanity for the greater good.

Our Mission and Vision

An Equal Opportunity Provider

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Rock Solid Foundation

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