Mama Alma Rohm of Iwo

1925-2016

Lived 66 of her 91 years on earth in Iwo.

Born in Waco Texas.
At the age of 9 she went through an experience in which according to her, the Holy Spirit said she would be a single woman all her life long and will be a missionary in Africa.
She graduated in Education, English and Biology from Baylor University in 1947. She immediately proceeded to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to study the Bible.

She graduated in 1949 and in July 1950, at the age of 25, set sail for Nigeria on missionary posting.
She briefly taught at Yaba Baptist School, Lagos, then sent to Ìré (in today’s Osun state) for 3 months to give company to a missionary nurse who was serving there alone and to learn Yoruba. In 1951 she was transferred to Baptist Teacher Training College Iwo now Bowen University.
At the Baptist College, Rohm taught English literature, education and organ classes, served as school librarian, played piano for the chapel and led the choir. She directed Shakespearean plays and organised an annual nationwide Baptist music workshop.
The college choir she trained and led became very famous at the time. When Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960, her choir was asked to Lagos to sing the new Nigerian anthem as its flag was raised over the capital for the first time.
Much later in her life, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The Baptist Seminary in Ogbomosho to honour her music work in Baptist churches all over the country.
In 1982 she was given the traditional title 'Iya N’isin Ilu’. Apparently the original title was to have been Iya N’isin, a reference to her religious service. But the Moslem community objected, saying they would like to be involved and that the latter title was more inclusive.
Alma Rohm Baptist Primary and Secondary School, Iwo and Alma Rohm Baptist Church are named in her honour. In 1992, the school erected a statue of the diminutive missionary in front of its library.
In 2009, she was honored by the Baylor Alumni Association as a Distinguished Alumna of the University. That same time, the Baylor Uni Libraries honored five other ex graduates, who served as international missionaries with a special exhibit tagged “So Great a Cloud of Witnesses.”
She wrote a book, “306 Hymn-Writers,” which was published in 2001.
She had to leave for the U.S. in late 2002 as a result of sickness. But she was later certified fit medically and returned to Iwo with a counsel to spend two and a half months only to put her things in proper order and say bye to her ‘local family’ and return to the US.
She came back, finalised her retirement, and left, but could not bear to turn her back on a place she had come to know as home for the past 54 years. She returned to Iwo within a year, to fulfill her vow to return to her creator in the town where she had lived since August 1951.
At her thanksgiving for the chieftaincy title, Rohm remarked, “here I am, more than a thousand people call me 'Mama.' At least 28 I can name call me 'Grandma.' Ten call me 'Great Grandma.' And now you have given me the land...How blessed I have been! How undeserving I am!"
She came as a humble missionary but ended as a naturalized Nigerian and will be remembered for her lifetime of service in the development of education and enrichment of learning in the Iwo area, in particular, and Yorubaland in general.
She breathed her last at the age of 91 at her home in Iwo in the year 2016, surrounded by those she had come to adopt as her children. She is buried there, on the grounds of the church named after her.

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